High blood pressure is often called, 'the silent killer'. And this is why; it shows no symptoms and 'silently' ravages the body, causing damage.
Meaning, you can look perfectly normal on the outside, but be terribly ill within.
Therefore, you might want to keep your blood pressure at a controlled level and prevent it from escalating.
And we've provided simple ways you can do just that.
1. Reducing your salt intake.
Many people eat a lot of salt without even realizing it.
A lot of people consume up to 3,400mg of salt every day, when the recommended intake of salt per day is 2,300mg.
Reduction of salt intake (even in the littlest form) will positively affect your health. And here's why; excess salt in the body causes the retention of water, increasing the total blood volume. And an increase in blood volume will ultimately increase blood pressure.
Thus, reducing your salt intake will go a long way in lowering your blood pressure.
And here are a few ways you can achieve that:
- Read food labels.
This would help you to know the content of the product you want to buy. Be it -snacks, beverages, or foods. Read labels of the products you want to buy and pick items with low salt.
- Cut down on processed foods.
Processed foods contain more salt than you think. And if you want to lower your blood pressure level, you might want to cut down on your intake of processed foods.
- Reduce the amount of salt you add to your food.
You don't need to add a lot of salt to your food. According to National Health Service (NHS), 75% of the salt we eat everyday comes from foods we buy. So, you don't have to put a lot of salt in your meal. You already consume enough as it is.
2. Reducing your caffeine intake.
Caffeine is loved by many. However, your blood pressure might not like it very much.
Research indicates that it may increase blood pressure for a short time after consumption. It was revealed that consumption of 200-300 mg of caffeine caused an increase of 6mm Hg and 8mm Hg in systolic and diastolic blood pressure respectively.
3. Eating a healthy diet.
There's a diet plan called DASH. DASH means Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.
It is a diet plan created to help treat or prevent high blood pressure. And it includes foods rich in potassium, calcium and magnesium. It also limits the intake of sodium, fat and sugar. These are substances known to cause an increase in blood pressure.
This plan has proven to be effective and is often considered valuable in reducing blood pressure.
According to researchers, it lowers blood pressure in as little as two weeks.
The DASH diet suggests getting:
- Grains: 7-8 daily servings
- Vegetables: 4-5 daily servings
- Fruits: 4-5 daily servings
- Low-fat or fat-free dairy products: 2-3 daily servings
- Meat, poultry, and fish: 2 or fewer daily servings
- Nuts, seeds, and dry beans: 4-5 servings per week
- Fats and oils: 2-3 daily servings
- Sweets: try to limit to less than 5 servings per week
4. Controlling your stress levels.
Stress causes the release of hormones in the body. And these hormones cause the heart to beat faster and blood vessels to constrict. These effects increase blood pressure over time.
So, you want to manage your stress levels. It would help you.
Here are some ways to control your stress levels.
- Get enough sleep.
Too little sleep is bad. Good sleep will reduce your stress levels, and blood pressure as well.
- Try out relaxation techniques.
This includes breathing exercises. When in stress, take a minute or two to breathe. It helps to calm the mind.
- Develop stress-relieving habits.
Stress-relieving habits is individualistic. It can be taking a walk for one person and playing games for another. Discover what works for you and stick to it.
- Exercise regularly.
5. Quitting smoking
You already know that smoking is bad for your lungs, but it might surprise you as well to know that smoking is just as bad for your blood pressure.
Cigarettes have a substance called nicotine. And this substance increases the heart rate, narrows the blood vessels and hardens their walls. All of which is bad for your blood pressure.
If you smoke and you're hypertensive, make quitting smoking your goal for the year. It would help you a great deal.
How to stop smoking.
- Pick a date and tell your doctor about it. Make sure it's as soon as possible. Avoid procrastinating.
- Note things that triggers you to smoke and manage them.
- Make a list of things you can do instead of smoking.
- Join a support group that is anti-smoking.
- Ask your doctor for nicotine gum or patches.
- Avoid drinks rich in caffeine. This would trigger you to smoke.
6. Reducing your alcohol intake.
Drinking too much alcohol can alter your blood pressure. And not in a good way.
Alcohol increases the blood levels of the hormone renin, which causes blood vessels to constrict. And a narrowing of blood vessels, as stated earlier, will increase blood pressure.
Keep in mind that alcohol also contains calories and can cause weight gain (yes, weight gain is something you should be worried about. It poses a risk for high blood pressure).
Yup! Exercise again.
Regular exercise makes your heart stronger and helps it to pump blood with less effort.
As a result, the force on the walls of the arteries reduces, and blood pressure reduces in turn.
8. Taking your medications.
This is a point many people fault in. They don't take their medications, and it's really bad.
Cultivate a habit of taking your medications regularly. It's a major way to reduce your blood pressure.
Here are ways to ensure you do:
- Keep a journal or calendar. Every time you take your medication, tick it off on your journal or calendar.
- Set reminders. You can use your phone, or place sticky notes around your home, and/or place of work.
- Have an accountability partner. This can be a family member or friend.
9. Going for regular check-ups.
This point cannot be overemphasized.
Going for regular check-ups will keep your health in good shape. Mostly because there are signs or symptoms you might not take notice of, but your doctor would.
On a final note:
Managing your blood pressure is not as tasking as it seems. With consistency and determination, you can keep your blood pressure within a normal range and live a normal life.
However, if you do not take it seriously, it might cost you your health, and more importantly, your life.