Blood pressure is a measurement of the pressure in our blood vessels. It is also an indirect measure of our heart function. Uncontrolled high blood pressure over a long period of time can be problematic.
It is expressed in two numbers called systolic and diastolic pressures. Think of them as the pressure when your heart actively pumps the blood (systolic) and the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart rests between beats and is refilling with blood (diastolic).
Target numbers are 120/80 (systolic over diastolic). Hypertension is the diagnosis for high blood pressure signified by measurement above 140/90. If your reading is consistently above this level you may need to pay closer attention in how you manage your blood pressure.
Medical doctors may recommend medication to manage your blood pressure, but there are several lifestyle factors that can help and should be continued even if you choose to take a medication.
Nine Ways to Reduce Blood Pressure Naturally
1) Reduce salt intake – Eating salt increases the levels of sodium in our bloodstream. This taxes our kidneys which strive to restore balance in our blood. Extra fluid due to the upset balance leads to higher blood pressure. Cutting out added salt and processed foods is the most effective way to reduce salt intake.
2) Lose weight – More body fat means more tissue that needs blood pumped to it. According to the American Heart Association a gain of just 5 lbs raises blood pressure. Abdominal fat is most problematic (1). Focusing on healthy long term weight loss is a key strategy in reducing blood pressure.
3) Regular physical training – Exercise is important in maintaining a healthy blood pressure. Training your heart to work more efficiently and the reduced stress that comes with exercise will assist a healthy blood pressure.
4) Deep breathing – Take a regular time out to focus on your breathing. Research has shown that deep breathing exercises can reduce your blood pressure by reducing the activation of your sympathetic nervous system.
5) Prayer/Meditation – Focusing your mind through prayer and meditation has been shown to assist keeping blood pressure in check. Regular practice can slash risk for hypertension by up to 40 percent!
6) Chiropractic adjustments – Reduce over activity of sympathetic nervous system through regular adjustments. Before and after adjustment readings show as much as a ten point drop in blood pressure!
7) Get adequate sleep – Poor quality sleep prevents our bodies from regulating our stress hormones properly. This hormonal imbalance can lead to high blood pressure.
8) Eat proper foods/supplements – Certain supplements and foods can assist healthy blood pressure. There is evidence that fiber rich foods such as psyllium and wheat bran can help. Minerals like magnesium, calcium and
potassium are also helpful. Some foods cause an increase in nitric oxide (which widen blood vessels) – garlic or L-arginine are two examples of this. Omega 3 fats such as fish oil and flaxseed oil can promote healthy blood pressure as well.
9) Get a massage – Certain types of massage (think relaxation or Swedish) have been shown to reduce blood pressure.
As you can see, there are many ways our lifestyle contributes to our blood pressure readings, both good and bad. Consider which aspects of your lifestyle may be out of balance – then target them with a plan. Which might be the biggest factor? Poor sleep? Inadequate exercise? Infrequent adjustments? Start there and slowly your lifestyle will come into balance. Healthy lifestyle choices lead to a healthy life – and you are the one in control of your choices!
1. Salt and Blood Pressure http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/AboutHighBloodPressure/Myths-About-High-Blood-Pressure_UCM_430836_Article.jsp#.WJCHV_krLIU
2) Weight and Blood Pressure http://newsroom.heart.org/news/small-weight-gain-can-raise-blood-pressure-in-healthy-adults
3) Exercise and Blood Pressure http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/09/18/ask-well-the-best-exercise-to-reduce-blood-pressure/?_r=0
4) Breathing and Blood Pressure
5) Prayer and Meditation and Blood Pressure
6) Effects of chiropractic treatment on blood pressure and anxiety: a randomized, controlled trial. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3075649)
Atlas vertebra realignment and achievement of arterial pressure goal in hypertensive patients: a pilot study (http://www.nature.com/jhh/journal/v21/n5/abs/1002133a.html)
7) Sleep and High Blood Pressure
8)Food supplements http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/basics/alternative-medicine/con-20019580
9)Massage and Hypertension https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16494570
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