Author: Sherry L. Granader, Nutritionist
Lowering blood pressure is a concern for many people and, for some, often goes unnoticed or unchecked. The blood that circulates throughout the body presses against the walls of the arteries, and this movement is known as blood pressure. The arterial walls can become distorted, thick or narrow if blood pressure is too high, putting strain on the heart muscle. However, exercise, stress and emotions like happiness or anger can also raise blood pressure. If it goes unchecked, it can lead to a stroke, heart disease, kidney damage, diabetes and other health issues.
Unexplained nosebleeds, headaches and dizziness can indicate blood pressure problems, but there may also be no symptoms whatsoever. It can strike at any age; however, eating foods high in sodium, not exercising on a regular basis, smoking and chronic stress are all linked to high blood pressure. Too much caffeine, salt, sugar, bad fats, pregnancy and birth control pills can also cause high blood pressure.
The good news is that there are ways to lower blood pressure naturally without prescription medications. For example, adding a regular yoga practice has been proven to lower blood pressure effectively. Eating more whole foods in their natural state, including lots of leafy greens, vegetables and fruits, is good for the heart and can lower blood pressure naturally. Staying away from highly processed foods that contain trans fats or hydrogenated oils is one of the first steps in preventing high blood pressure, as these foods tend to clog arteries.
One of the best ways to lower blood pressure naturally is through eating fish or taking an Omega 3 essential fatty acid supplement. Both help reduce inflammation throughout the entire body, including the arteries. Other foods to add to your diet include beets soaked in vinegar, fresh brewed hibiscus tea, high fiber foods like ground flaxseeds, oats and whole grains and celery. Foods that are bright red in color like tomatoes and pomegranates are excellent for supporting heart function and lowering blood pressure naturally.
If you have high blood pressure, avoid foods high in salt, and if you must use salt, choose a sea salt. Sea salt is dissolved in the body easier and doesn’t elevate blood pressure like iodized salt can. Of course, alcohol in moderation is important which means no more than two drinks for men and one for women in one day. Avoid foods in the center aisles of the grocery store, as many contain hydrogenated fats and trans fats. These extend the shelf life of the product but they do nothing for your shelf life.
A regular yoga practice has been shown to lower blood pressure naturally while helping to reduce blood sugar levels, something that is a concern for those dealing with diabetes. It can help with weight loss as an added bonus and de-stress the body significantly. The yoga poses allow the muscles to relax, including the heart but they also increase the blood supply to those muscles that cause an increased uptake of glucose so blood sugar levels are reduced in the process. People with diabetes often have high blood pressure as a side effect to the disease, and yoga has been shown to help reduce it naturally.
There are other side effects to high blood pressure, one of which is an increased release of the stress hormone cortisol. Practicing yoga on a regular basis has been shown to improve insulin response by stretching the pancreas and thereby improving its function. Giving the body what it needs to function at optimum levels is one of the best ways to lower blood pressure naturally. A healthy diet of whole foods like fresh fruits and vegetables and good quality protein sources, as well as a regular exercise program that includes yoga are all good strategies for lowering blood pressure. Awareness of the entire body and strategies to improve mind, body and spirit will go a long way in creating harmony in the body. Yoga stimulates the internal organs to function properly allowing the body to operate at optimum levels, hence lowering blood pressure naturally.