By: Dr. Nicole Sandilands ND
High blood pressure (BP) is something that is all too common in today’s population. Many people are being diagnosed with this condition and are being treated with medications to help lower their BP; however there are many natural ways to help bring this number down. A healthy BP is one that is under 120/80mmHg. High BP usually has little to no symptoms and can be missed if it is not checked regularly so it is important to get this checked at least once a year to ensure it is not creeping up on you. If your BP is elevated or if you are looking to be pro-active about your health to ensure it doesn’t increase, here are some tips you can do to help keep this number is check:
1- Get active: Exercise is probably the single most important thing you can do to lower your BP. Studies have shown that a modest 10% reduction in body weight alone has the ability to significantly lower your BP. Cardiovascular exercise appears to offer the best benefit- Aim for 20 minutes daily.
2- Eat a healthy, balanced diet and limit processed foods: By limiting your processed food intake and consuming plenty of whole foods (fruits, veggies, lean meats, nuts/seeds, and healthy fats), often people will notice a reduction in body weight which can translate to a reduction in BP. Processed foods also tend to be loaded with sodium, which we know raises BP. By avoiding processed foods, we significantly reduce our dietary intake of sodium which can have a very positive influence on our BP.
3- Olive oil (2tbsp): This healthy fat is loaded with monounsaturated fatty acids, the heart healthy omega 3 fats as well as polyphenols, a potent anti-oxidant. These compounds have been found to significantly reduce blood pressure when combined with a healthy diet and exercise. Aim for 2 tbsp daily of raw (non heated) olive oil.
4- CoQ10: This nutrient is naturally produced in the body however it can be depleted by age, certain diseases and some medications. Depending on the individual, supplementation with CoQ10 can be an effective strategy to help decrease BP. Studies have shown that CoQ10 has the ability to decrease BP by anywhere from 7-12 points systolic (top number) and 5-10 points (bottom number) if used appropriately- talk to your ND to see if this supplement is right for you.
5- Magnesium: This mineral is utilized for many different processes in the body. In the cardiovascular system, it acts as a vasodilator (dilates your blood vessels)- which when they are constricted can raise your BP. By adding this vasodilator to your supplement routine, you may notice a reduction to your BP- talk to your ND to see if this option is right for you.
6- Be Smoke-Free: smoking increases your risk of developing high BP as well as many other heart related issues.
7- Stress Management: Having an increased stress load can negatively influence your BP- consider doing some deep breathing, yoga, meditation or any other stress relieving activity to help keep you calm and your BP low.
8- Reduce alcohol and caffeine intake: Both of these agents can have a negative influence on your BP and you should try to keep the consumption of them to a minimum.
Try incorporating some of these tips into your daily routine- for other strategies or to learn more, talk to your ND today!