7 Ways to reduce your high blood pressure – without drugs
As we get older, we naturally begin to notice our health more. What we took for granted in our 20s we begin to notice in our 40’s, and we all ook for ways to deal with it. Most people I know would prefer to not take the drug option of they can avoid it, so it’s always good to know what else you can do to reduce your condition naturally – so many common ailments can be enormously aided by diet and lifestyle changes.
High blood pressure is one of those – making small changes towards a healthier living style can have a big effect on your ability to delay or reduce the need for medication.
1. Exercise. Regularly!
Top of the list has to be getting your body moving – exercise is one of the best things you can do to lower high blood pressure. It strengthens your heart, making it amore effective pump – and that naturally lowers the pressure in your arteries.
And it’s honestly not about hitting the gym for a massive sweat-dripping groaning session; simply walking for just 30 minutes a day helps (and if you can, then just 75 minutes of vigorous exercise such as running, per week will show a big improvement)
2. Take a bath!
In the middle ages, high blood pressure was treated with bloodletting and a ‘full bath’. We’re not so hot on the whole letting blood thing now, but hot baths remain an effective home remedy for high blood pressure. In fact, if you are looking for how to lower blood pressure instantly, take a hot bath.
It feels counterintuitive, but they really do work.
They relax you – physically, which means relaxed muscles that require less blood and therefore less blood pressure. And also mentally – telling your heart and circulatory system to also relax.
Warm baths also cause your blood vessels to dilate, and wider blood vessels means less pressure is needed. And when you’re warm and toasty in a warm bath, your body doesn’t need to work to keep you warm. Effectively you’re giving your heart a night off. Kind of you.
(by the way, if you have an elderly relative who won’t risk the bath clamber any more, encourage them to look at investing in a walk in bath – you shouldn’t have to give up on the beauty of a hot bath just because your body got frail)
3. Chill out.
I think probably the first thing we all think about with high blood pressure is ‘too much stress’. And that holds true – stress means a faster heart and constricted blood vessels. Not good. Plus when you’re stressed you’re far more likely to ignore all the above advice about diet and exercise, and just sit and eat ALL the carbs.
Do what works for you – go for a walk, listen to some music, meditate, watch the sun set, book a massage, take a day off – anything that relaxes you and brings back the happy hormones for a while.
4. Lose weight
No beating about the bush here, and no judgement either. I don’t care WHAT size you are. Just know that if you’re overweight, you’re overweight all the way through – it’s not just a layer of fat under your skin, it’s marbled all the way through you, wrapped around all your organs, and making every single body function that little bit harder.
Just losing 5% of your body mass can significantly lower high blood pressure – and the effect is even greater when weight loss is paired with exercise (see point 1!).
5. Slow down on the wine and gin!
Alcohol raises your blood pressure, and is linked to 16% of high blood pressure cases (report).
A small amount is good for the heart (that’s just one small glass a day, really), but too much and your blood pressure will rocket. So if that’s you emptying the bottle a couple of times a week, you might want to cut back a bit.
6. Lower your salt!
Salt has frequently been linked to high blood pressure and heart events, like stroke in medical studies (here, and here). It’s not a clear cut cause-and-effect thing, but if you already have high blood pressure, it’s probably worth reducing your sodium to see if it helps. Avoid processed foods, use other flavourings to liven up your food, and only buy the low-sodium salt that’s readily available.
7. Go bananas!
Potassium is essential for your body to get rid of sodium and ease pressure on your blood vessel – and most modern diets rich in processed foods have not only increased sodium, but reduced the potassium at the same time!
The fix is the same for sodium intake – take a look at your diet, and reduce your reliance on processed foods. Try and make form scratch where possible, and add some fresh fruit or veg to every meal.
Excellent potassium-rich foods include veg such as leafy greens, tomatoes & potatoes and fruit such as melons, bananas, avocados, oranges and apricots. Dairy, Tuna & salmon and Nuts & seeds are all good additional sources