Hypertension, very commonly referred to as high blood pressure, is an increasingly prevalent condition today among nearly all communities. As per the World Health Organization, the global prevalence of hypertension was about 20% in females and 24% in males above 18 years of age in the year 2015. Hypertension increases the risk of heart attack and stroke, which necessitates the need for controlling high blood pressure.
Even though simple and effective home remedies to help manage hypertension are available, it causes about 12.8% of the total deaths worldwide, mainly because of the lack of awareness about diet and lifestyle changes that can help in controlling the condition.
Lifestyle changes: Health begins at home
Someone rightly said – we are what we eat. Eating right is a significant step in controlling hypertension. Apart from that, small changes in the daily routine go a long way toward reducing the complications of high blood pressure and keeping the medicine doses to a minimum. Here are some tips that you can begin using today itself:
- Eat a healthy and well-balanced diet with limited salt: The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) are well-known recommendations proven to reduce high blood pressure. The DASH diet recommends the intake of plenty of fresh fruits and raw vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, lean meats, fish, poultry, and low-fat dairy products. These foods can help reduce blood pressure by about 11 mmHg. The DASH diet provides your body with a sufficient amount of vital elements like potassium, calcium, and magnesium, which are all beneficial in lowering blood pressure. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends the following:
- Include fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet and if fresh ones are not available, opt for the frozen ones without additives.
- Always choose grilled, boiled and baked foods. Select a restaurant that uses oils like olive oil and corn oil which are high in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Stay away from deep-fried foods or dishes containing them.
- Choose water over sodas and other artificial sweetener–containing beverages. This can help you avoid unwanted calories.
- Most of the sodium in the diet that you eat may be from packed and processed foods. Cutting out such foods can help you lower the amount of salt intake. The AHA also recommends cutting down your sodium intake to less than 1,500 mg per day if you suffer from hypertension. Even better, consuming 1000 mg per day can produce a more prominent effect.
- Avoid alcohol intake: Although previously it was said that a moderate amount of alcohol could be helpful in treating hypertension, the latest studies suggest that no amount of alcohol intake is useful in improving health. Healthy and a disease free life can be lead by avoiding alcohol completely.
- Quit smoking: A cigarette causes an increase in blood pressure for several minutes after you finish smoking. Quitting can help you bring your blood pressure within the normal range and helps in the prevention of lung and heart diseases.
- Controlling caffeine intake: Although the effect of caffeine on blood pressure is controversial, the following are the commonly observed effects of caffeine.
- Individuals who do not have caffeine on a regular basis may have a significant rise of about 10 mmHg in blood pressure after having caffeine.
- Individuals who drink coffee and other caffeine drinks will not have any changes in the blood pressure.
- Exercise regularly to maintain a healthy body weight: Being overweight is one of the significant risk factors for hypertension. Regular exercise of 40 minutes, three to four times a week is recommended for adults by the AHA. This activity should be of moderate to vigorous intensity. Try reducing weight to bring the body mass index (BMI) in the range of 18.5 to 24.5.
- Manage stress: Stress is a major factor that acts as a bridge connecting you to high blood pressure. The more stressed you are, the higher your chances of having increased blood pressure. Manage stress better using the below‑listed steps:
- Reduce expectations
- Include a time slot for mental relaxation every day in your busy schedule – this can be a hobby, a sport, time with family/friends, etc.
- Practicing Yoga daily will help you reduce and manage stress
- Aim to think about problems for resolution, not simply to overthink
Look after the most expensive possession you have – your health. Small changes can have a significant impact on high blood pressure. Why wait for tomorrow? Begin today!