I have often been asked what one can do for high blood pressure. But recently, it seems I am getting that question more and more often. Whether it’s linked to stress (and who isn’t stressed), or diet, or even if it’s because of Grandma Lucy and your genes, there are many things that you can do to support your heart!
The American Heart Association now defines high blood pressure as 130/80 mm Hg or higher. However, the OPTIMAL blood pressure is 120 over 80, or lower. (Note: if you tend to have very low blood pressure, it’s good to check it regularly, as numbers that are too low can also be problematic.) Elevated blood pressure poses a major risk for heart attack, stroke and kidney disease. Lifestyle and dietary factors play a significant role in the regulation of blood pressure.
Two numbers are involved when measuring blood pressure. The upper number (systolic reading) measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart contracts. The bottom number (diastolic reading) measures the pressure in your arteries between heartbeats. Both numbers in a blood pressure reading are essential for diagnosing and treating high blood pressure, but doctors primarily focus on the top number (systolic pressure).
Research has found that both numbers are equally important in monitoring heart health. However, most studies show a greater risk of stroke and heart disease related to higher systolic pressures compared with elevated diastolic pressures. That’s especially true in people who are 50 and older, which is why doctors tend to monitor the top number more closely. The reason for the difference in risk may be related to the force put on the arteries when blood rushes out of the heart.
Diet & Lifestyle Risk Factors
Elevated blood pressure can be affected by numerous contributing factors such as:
• Coffee and alcohol consumption
• Lack of exercise (as well as obesity)
• A high sodium-to-potassium ratio
• A diet that is low in fiber, high in sugar, high in saturated fat, and/or low in essential fatty acid intake
• A diet low in calcium, magnesium and/or vitamin C.
Maintaining Healthy Blood Pressure
Fortunately, there are many lifestyle choices that can help with maintaining healthy blood pressure.
• Regular exercise: You don’t need fancy equipment or expensive gym memberships to help with blood pressure. Daily walks can be just as effective as blood pressure medication.
• Relaxation techniques: From yoga to meditation, find something that helps you unwind.
• Improved nutrition: Up your consumption of plant-based foods, such as celery, garlic, onions, broccoli, green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds, plus whole grains and legumes. Eating cold-water fish (salmon and mackerel, etc.) also helps positively affect blood pressure levels.
Supplements for Healthy Blood Pressure
Although lifestyle is one of the most effective ways to support blood pressure, sometimes it may not be enough. Two of my favorite supplements for assisting with this are Pathway Blood Pressure Support and Super Omega-3 fish oil.
Before taking any supplement, consult with your health care practitioner to ensure it is right for you.
Pathway Blood Pressure Support: There are many nutrients that have been found to encourage healthy blood pressure levels. Pathway BLOOD PRESSURE SUPPORT combines many of these important herbs, vitamins, and minerals into one great formula. Herbs such as coleus forskohlii and hawthorn are included in this formula for their ability to support healthy circulation. Magnesium and hops are added to aid in the relaxation of the central nervous system. In addition, taurine supports the central nervous system and is thought to be helpful in dealing with anxiety.
Pathway Super Omega 3: Research shows that eating foods that are rich in omega-3s can help lower blood pressure in those that have hypertension. Flaxseeds and salmon are both good sources of omega-3s. A good quality supplement can also help, especially if your diet is lacking in this essential fatty acid.
If you would like more heart healthy tips, or more information about our supplements, contact us at Village Green Apothecary.
Photo from here, with thanks.