High blood pressure is a serious disease , afflicting many of our loved ones or even ourselves. So, taking care of our state to avoid this condition begins with what we eat, what we do and how we face our day to day.
That is, it goes beyond medicines. For this reason, in the following article you will understand how you can modify your life towards a healthier point that allows you to lower your blood pressure levels, in case you suffer from it.
What is high blood pressure?
Blood pressure is a clinical parameter , which reflects the hemodynamic state of the patient (ie, the state of blood flow and of its blood vessels). In this sense, high blood pressure is defined as a systolic blood pressure of 130-139 mmHg and a diastolic blood pressure of 85-59 mmHg , according to the International Hypertension Association . (1)
We should not confuse high blood pressure with hypertension. For the doctor, high blood pressure can be effectively treated with lifestyle modifications (exercise, changes in what we eat, etc.), while hypertension requires antihypertensive medications , in addition to the changes already mentioned.
Important: Do not ignore your health. Arterial hypertension is one of the biggest public health problems there is, since it is the biggest cardiovascular risk factor , especially for diseases such as coronary syndromes, cerebrovascular attacks and heart failure.
How to lower blood pressure naturally?
If you want to know what changes in your lifestyle you can make to lower your blood pressure, together with your doctor’s guidance, we will describe the most common recommendations and what scientific evidence has to say about them:
1. Maintain a healthy diet
Diet modifications are probably one of the greatest benefits for hypertensive patients. Years of research and meta-analysis have made it possible to draw this conclusion.
To highlight: Eating healthy and nutritious food is a very useful treatment, with reductions of up to 12.02 mmHg in systolic blood pressure .
Of course, the impact of the change varies with the type of diet . But in general, a diet that includes more fruits , vegetables and that limits the consumption of sugar , red meat and sugary drinks shows beneficial effects. (two)
2. Avoid being overweight
Being overweight is one of the most important risk factors for hypertension. Eating an excess of calories and foods rich in salt and sugars increases inflammation and damage to blood vessels , due to lipid deposition and oxidation.
In this sense, the risk of other comorbidities such as metabolic syndrome and diabetes is increased , conditions that exacerbate the symptoms of hypertension. (3)
Note: The recommendation is to maintain an adequate weight according to individual characteristics and requirements, for which it is necessary to consult a specialist.
3. Consume foods rich in potassium, magnesium, calcium and polyphenols
Polyphenols are organic compounds with anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and proimmune properties . Among these are flavonoids (such as those found in fruits), which attack free radicals, reducing them and reducing the risk of atherosclerotic plaques.
You should know: Polyphenols decrease inflammation and damage to blood vessels (reducing blood pressure). Some foods rich in these compounds are olive oil and garlic .
For its part, potassium is a mineral with beneficial effects on cardiovascular health. One way in which this may be achieved is by preventing calcification of the vascular walls while maintaining their integrity and laxity, unlike the rigid walls that characterize this disease. (4)
4. Decrease sodium intake
Excess sodium in our lives has a significant impact on blood pressure, as it promotes water retention. In this sense, many cardiologists and professionals recommend reducing the consumption of foods with a high sodium content to reduce the risks to the body.
Notable: In 2013, a meta-analysis was published in the British Medical Journal , evaluating the impact of reduced dietary salt on blood pressure. The results were surprising: systolic blood pressure dropped to 4.8 mmHg and diastolic to 2.06 mmHg . (5)
5. Moderate the consumption of alcohol and coffee
Retrospective studies have determined that alcohol increases blood pressure and has deleterious effects on the body (particularly on the heart and liver). How much does the pressure rise? it depends on the quantity, since having one or two drinks a day does not cause significant increases, but its daily and prolonged abuse is harmful. (6)
Important: Reducing the amount of liquor and replacing it with other drinks , such as water or matcha tea , has impressive benefits. If you consider that you have a problem with your alcohol intake and do not want to have more control over your actions, we recommend consulting a professional for further advice.
On the other hand, restricting the amount of caffeine is a controversial recommendation. Yes, it can increase your blood pressure and heart rate , by stimulating the sympathetic nervous system. This effect seems to be greater in people not accustomed to its use. In those that do, these findings are small or undetectable. (7)
However, despite this, the International Association of Hypertension recommends moderate consumption . From another point of view, caffeine also stimulates thermogenesis and energy burning, so it can also be useful as a supplement.
6. Limit the consumption of sugar and refined carbohydrates
The rise of diets low in fat, but high in carbohydrates and sugars has given rise to a way of life that is more damaging to the body.
You should know: Added sugars are nutritionally empty, increase inflammation of your vessels, cause metabolic disorders and even cognitive effects (such as addiction and loss of sensitivity to dopamine).
On the other hand, there are healthy carbohydrates. We can find them in foods rich in fiber , which limit cell oxidation and inflammation. Likewise, brown rice, quinoa , oats , potatoes, and grains (like lentils) are delicious, natural alternatives. (8)
7. Avoid smoking
Cigarette smoking is another major risk factor for cardiovascular disease , especially high blood pressure and arteriosclerosis.
Important: Tobacco is composed of more than 100 highly volatile substances that disturb cardiovascular and metabolic function, increase the production of free radicals, inflammation, LDL cholesterol levels, decrease defenses and, in general, increase up to 20 times the risk of heart disease . (9)
Therefore, the recommendation will always be to avoid smoking at all costs or failing that, start the process to quit permanently.
8. Perform physical exercise regularly
Anaerobic exercise has wonderful effects, both for the treatment and prevention of this disorder. So moderate-intensity exercise such as walking, jogging , cycling, yoga, or swimming 3 to 5 times per week are the current recommendations.
Note: You can also include high-intensity interval training (known as HIIT ) or even resistance training (weightlifting, for example).
9. Manage stress
Not many people know how to control stress. The pressure of day to day submits them in such a way that it has notable effects from the physical and mental point of view. In fact, chronic stress has been linked to high blood pressure, immune and metabolic disturbances, cognitive decline, and loss of mental acuity.
To highlight: There is no objectively correct way to manage stress. There are different recommendations and training programs , ranging from yoga to breathing techniques and muscle relaxation.
10. Consume natural supplements
Do supplements really help lower blood pressure? Depends. Certain supplements , such as caffeine or others, may help to lose weight, in turn contributing to the fight against health problems , but you must be careful not to select artificial supplements and to be well informed about whether they are beneficial or not .
- High blood pressure is a cardiovascular disease with potentially fatal outcomes, such as myocardial infarction or stroke.
- In addition to antihypertensive medications, there are other, more natural and healthy ways to counteract this condition.
- To lower high blood pressure it is necessary to eat healthier , eliminate harmful habits , drink healthy drinks and move more.
- You can also supplement your diet with nutritional supplements.
- The changes must not only be physical but also mental, which is why anti-stress therapies represent tools to face the day to day and control our emotions .
University Professional in the area of Human Resources, Postgraduate in Occupational Health and Hygiene of the Work Environment, 14 years of experience in the area of health. Interested in topics of Psychology, Occupational Health, and General Medicine.