HOW TO MAINTAIN A HEALTHY BLOOD PRESSURE
Many people often ask as we grow older, how does one maintain a healthy blood pressure? Whenever we go for a medical checkup, one of the basic things being done to us is to check our blood pressure.There may be a lot of possible answers to that, but the most basic answer would be, healthy lifestyle choices. Although there are medications available to help control blood pressure, it can normally be controlled very effectively by making some prudent lifestyle changes.
Here are some healthy lifestyle choices that will help you maintain normal blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure, you may also want to consider these strategies to bring it back under control:
- Take steps to ensure you keep a healthy body weight
Having a high body mass index (BMI) and a high waist girth/line can both significantly increase your blood pressure. If your doctor recommends that you lose weight, there’s a simple rule to follow: move more, eat less and make smarter food choices. Gradually increase your level of physical activity beyond the AHA recommendation of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, lower the number of calories you take in and eat a healthy diet. Once you are at your goal weight, you can then determine which dietary and fitness choices work best for maintaining your weight.
- Keep active
Regular exercise develops the the heart’s efficiency and circulation of the blood which helps to control your blood pressure both at rest and during physical activity. A minimum of 30 minutes of moderate (e.g. walking) to intense (e.g running) activity a day is all it should take but if you are not used to exercise make sure you take things steady until you are more comfortable.
If your blood pressure is consistently over 140/90 then you should check in first with your doctor for further advice.
- If you smoke – STOP
Nicotine, a main component of cigarettes, is a central nervous stimulant which means that it can make your blood pressure levels climb immediately as soon as you take your first puff . The tobacco chemicals in cigarette smoke also damage your artery walls making you more prone to high blood pressure in the future. Smoking is not safe in any amount. Nicotine causes blood vessels to constrict and that raises blood pressure. Quitting will also lower your risk of cancer and heart disease.
- Limit the amount of salt you eat
Sodium (contained in salt) can encourage your blood circulation to retain fluid, which can in turn increase your blood pressure. Salt works on your kidneys to make your body hold on to more water.
This extra stored water raises your blood pressure and puts strain on your kidneys, arteries, heart and brain.
Remember, there is plenty of sodium in much of the food we buy already so resist the temptation to add extra salt at the dinner table. Start checking the labels on the foods that you purchase. Frequently, prepared foods carry a heavy dose of sodium. Decreasing sodium will assist you in maintaining a healthy blood pressure.
- Keep alcohol in check
Excessive drinking can really push your blood pressure up so make sure you stay within healthy limits and avoid binge-drinking. Alcohol raises blood pressure and adds empty calories. A safe amount of alcohol is only one drink a day for women and two for men.
- Positively manage your stresses
Blood pressure can race up when you’re feeling under pressure, so make sure you do what you can to manage your stresses by keeping physically active, enjoying sufficient sleep and relaxation, enjoying supportive relationships and managing your commitments to suit you.
Here are other nutrients that may also help in maintaining a healthy blood pressure.
- Calcium. Populations with low calcium intakes have high rates of high blood pressure. However, it has not been proven that taking calcium tablets will prevent high blood pressure. But it is important to be sure to get at least the recommended amount of calcium — 1,000 milligrams per day for adults 19 to 50 years old and 1,200 mg for those over 50 (pregnant and breastfeeding women also need more) — from the foods you eat. Dairy foods like low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese are good sources of calcium. Low-fat and nonfat dairy products have even more calcium than the high-fat types.
- Magnesium. A diet low in magnesium may make your blood pressure rise. But doctors don’t recommend taking extra magnesium to help prevent high blood pressure — the amount you get in a healthy diet is enough. Magnesium is found in whole grains, green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, and dry peas and beans.
- Fish oils. A type of fat called “omega-3 fatty acids” is found in fatty fish like mackerel and salmon. Large amounts of fish oils may help reduce high blood pressure, but their role in prevention is unclear. Taking fish oil pills is not recommended, because high doses can cause unpleasant side effects. Most fish, if not fried or made with added fat, is low in saturated fat and calories and can be eaten often.
- Garlic. There has been some evidence to suggest garlic’s effect in lowering blood pressure, in addition to improving cholesterol and reducing some cancers. Further research is being conducted to fully assess garlic’s potential health benefits.
It is advisable to talk to your doctor before taking a dietary supplement or alternative herbal treatment. Some may interact with other medications you may be taking or have harmful side effects. So always remember, if you wish to maintain a healthy blood pressure normal, choose to live and stay healthy. The CHOICE is always YOURS to make.