Hello. This is Heart Health Tuesdays! Today, we’ll talk about natural remedies to treat your high blood pressure. Your blood pressure has probably been creeping up over the years, and you’ve probably been told to limit your salt intake. When you see your doctor about your high blood pressure, they’ll likely prescribe you medications that will help you treat and control your high blood pressure.
But what you may not know is that high blood pressure can often be reined in with the right combination of foods and lifestyle changes.
However, this isn’t the only way to treat high blood pressure. You can also use natural remedies and lifestyle modifications such as changes in your diet, exercise, and stress levels to lower your blood pressure and ease your symptoms.
Typically, these methods can be used in conjunction with any of your prescription medications, but you need to inspect the labels to make sure there aren’t any potentially harmful interactions. When used properly, both medications and lifestyle changes can be quite effective in achieving normal blood pressure.
Natural High Blood Pressure Treatments
Natural high blood pressure treatments can be just as if not more effective than medications. Adjust these lifestyle factors to improve your overall health and target high blood pressure at the source of the problem.
Work Out Regularly
Exercise gets your blood pumping, so it’s no big surprise that it has a positive effect on blood pressure. Aerobic and strength training exercises are most effective, so be sure to mix in some dumbbell workouts alongside something fast-paced like jogging, jumping jacks, or swimming.
You have to be consistent with exercise to really enjoy its effects, but luckily, you don’t need to feel the burn every day. Around 30 minutes of mild exercise each day is enough to support healthy blood pressure.
Improve Your Diet
Cholesterol and saturated fats are two of the biggest dietary contributors to hypertension. Reduce your consumption of pre-packaged junk food, and instead, eat more whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. The DASH diet is a fantastic method to ensure your meals won’t contribute to your hypertension.
One easy way you can improve your nutrition is by opting for more whole foods like fresh produce and lean meats. When eating packaged foods, make sure to always check the labels before buying so you can see how much fat and cholesterol they contain.
Shed Extra Pounds
Obesity is another common contributor to hypertension. Losing just a few extra pounds can have an incredibly positive impact on your blood pressure.
Managing your weight also makes you less likely to develop sleep apnea, which can make high blood pressure worse.
Stop Smoking and Drinking
Excessive drinking can raise your blood pressure, as can any smoking.
Try to cut out cigarettes entirely since this bad habit can also increase your risk of lung cancer and heart disease.
For alcohol, you can still drink in moderation as long as you don’t overindulge. Limit yourself to no more than one or two drinks a day to keep your blood pressure in check.
Many processed and shelf-stable foods contain lots of salt, which can skyrocket your blood pressure. Look for low-sodium alternatives, replace added salt when cooking with other spices like garlic powder and sodium-free substitutes, and always read food labels.
If you have hypertension or are at risk of developing the condition, try to keep your sodium intake under about 1,500 mg a day.
Caffeine can feel like the last bastion between starting your day and going back to bed in the morning, but it’s not a good idea to overindulge, especially if you’re worried about your blood pressure.
Typically, people who drink one or two cups of coffee each day with a few hours in-between don’t have to worry much about caffeine’s effects on their blood pressure. If you’re a frequent caffeine drinker or if your daily caffeine consumption pushes double digits, you must watch out for potential spikes in your blood pressure.
Practice Stress Relief to Reduce High Blood Pressure
Stress is a natural and sometimes unavoidable part of life, but it’s often bad for your health in more ways than one. In addition to putting you in a bad mood and making worry and rumination more frequent, a high-stress lifestyle can greatly increase your risk of worsening your hypertension.
You might not be able to reliably reduce how stressed you are at work or from a hectic home life, but you can take time to take breaks when you need them and spend some time relaxing to relieve your mind of your troubles. A good work-life balance can help you keep your blood pressure in check. You can also use deep breathing exercises and mindful meditation to alleviate tension in everyday stressful situations.
Food For Thought
Although medications are quite effective in treating hypertension if your doctor recommends them, they’re not the only way to manage the condition. They’re often less effective on their own.
Making smart diet, exercise, and other lifestyle choices helps you get your high blood pressure back under control as safely as possible.
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I’m excited to talk about this topic today because not only do I truly believe that you have the power to reverse heart disease and lower high blood pressure to improve your health, but the science also agrees! You can adopt healthy lifestyle practices that improve your health and enrich your life, which can in turn improve the lives of those close to you. You have the power to break the cycle of these chronic diseases so that you can leave a legacy of health to your loved ones.
As you may already know, I use lifestyle medicine as the first line of treatment, before medications, to treat lifestyle-related chronic diseases. Lifestyle-related chronic diseases include diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and some cancers, just to name a few. Lifestyle practices, such as eating a whole-food plant-based diet and regular physical activity, can help you improve blood pressure and reverse heart disease. In certain cases, these approaches may even outperform pharmaceutical therapy. But I always tell my patients that conventional medications may be appropriate at this time to prevent catastrophic illness, but over time, you can work to make the necessary lifestyle changes to possibly reduce and/or eliminate medications. Please remember to always consult your physician for your particular needs and circumstances prior to making any decisions whatsoever.
Tools to Improve Heart Health
Blood Pressure Monitoring
Since weight management is very important in blood pressure control, I recommend that you be mindful of your weight and its fluctuations, and that you monitor your weight AT LEAST on a weekly basis. I recommend a scale that includes a body composition monitor.
Remember, healthy lifestyle behaviors–like eating a whole-foods plant-based diet that is low in sodium, being physically active, and stress management are the best ways to prevent and control high blood pressure. Please talk with your doctor about any complementary health approaches, including supplements, you use.
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PS. I am always asked what tools and resources I recommend to help you reach YOUR health goals. Here is the ever-growing, always updated list for you.
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