Understanding High Blood Pressure: Can it be Managed Without Medication?
About one in three U.S. adults has high blood pressure. Surprised? High blood pressure, or hypertension, is often referred to the “silent killer” for good reason. It often has no symptoms, but don't let that fool you. High blood pressure is a major risk for heart disease and stroke and these diseases are among the leading causes of death in the United States. It can often hide behind what feels like stress, anxiety, and lack of sleep.
Your blood pressure depends on how much blood your heart is pumping, and how much resistance there is to blood flow in your arteries. The narrower your arteries, the higher your blood pressure. Do you know your blood pressure? We recommend keeping this number in the back of your head. It's easy to call your doctor and get your latest numbers if you don't know. Places like Walmart and Target often have machines you can use free of charge.
Blood pressure lower than 120/80 mm Hg is considered normal. Blood pressure that’s 130/80 mm Hg or more is considered high. If your numbers are above normal but under 130/80 mm Hg, you fall into the category of elevated blood pressure. This means that you’re at risk for developing high blood pressure and you should definitely start taking preventative measures.
The good news about elevated blood pressure is it is totally changeable. Lifestyle changes can significantly reduce your numbers and lower your risk without medications. All you have to do is start taking action.
Move your body. In a 2013 study, sedentary older adults who participated in exercise lowered their blood pressure by an average of 3.9 percent systolic and 4.5 percent diastolic These results are as good and sometimes better than some blood pressure medications.
As you regularly increase your heart and breathing rates, over time your heart gets stronger and pumps with less effort. This puts less pressure on your arteries and lowers your blood pressure as long as the exercise you're participating in is not adding stress to the body. Be sure to move your body to your capabilities and don't over do it. This can cause inflammation and ultimately lead to higher blood pressure. Start with walking, yoga, pilates, and light strength training.
Cut out sugar. Sugar elevates uric acid, which drives up blood pressure by inhibiting the nitric oxide in the blood vessels. Added sugars also stimulate the production of free fatty acids in the liver. When the body digests these free fatty acids, the resulting compounds can trigger inflammatory processes. Different kinds of sugar may contribute more or less to inflammation. We recommend keeping added sugars under 25g and choosing coconut sugar when looking for ingredients or adding sugar while baking.
Focus on whole foods and protein. Check those food labels, peeps! There is all sorts of inflammation causing junk in our processed foods. One in specific is extra salt. When you eat too much salt, which contains sodium, your body holds extra water to "wash" the salt from your body. In some people, this may cause blood pressure to rise. The added water puts stress on your heart and blood vessels. Popular processed and high-salt items include deli meats, canned soup, pizza, chips, and other processed snacks. Even fruit snacks contain salt. We have one question about that...WHY? Avoid foods labeled “low-fat. They have high amounts of salt and sugar to compensate for the loss of fat. Fat is what gives food taste and makes you feel full. Stop buying off brand foods. They are made with cheap ingredients that cause your body more harm trying to rid causing inflammation. Buy organic when you can to reduce consumption of pesticides that cause stress on the body. Decrease caffeine and alcohol consumption to help balance hormones and stress response.
Find ways to manage stress:
Stress on the body can cause a lot of damage to overall health. Stress looks different for everyone. It can be not liking your job, it can be working out too much when you need to rest, it can be just simply being unhappy. This causes hormones in your body to slow their normal processes and weaken other areas of the body like blood sugar levels, insulin resistance and digestion causing further stress on the body which can raise your blood pressure and narrow your blood vessels.
Go to bed. The body needs a minimum of 8 hours of sleep each night. When your circadian rhythm is all off it causes your metabolism, brain function, stress levels and more to be unbalanced. The less you sleep, the higher your blood pressure may go. If you already have high blood pressure, not sleeping well may make high blood pressure worse. It's thought that sleep helps your body control hormones needed to regulate stress and metabolism. Over time, a lack of sleep could cause swings in hormones, leading to high blood pressure and other risk factors for heart disease. While focusing on dietary changes to lower your blood pressure is essential, you also should focus on your sleep duration and quality to create a positive impact hypertension. Are you seeing how stress, sleep, and blood pressure are all related??
Incorporate herbs and adaptogens. Here are some of our favorite we recommend with scientific evidence supporting their stress-reducing and blood pressure lowering properties. Sprinkle them on everything or make a daily habit of drinking tea. (We promise you wont regret stepping into the tea world.) We have some teas on the shelf that Jamie has already made with some of these ingredients. Otherwise we can create a custom tea or send them with you loose for you to do as you please.
Consider these supplements. These following supplements are great for managing inflammation, supporting heart heat, replenishing the body for better sleep and stress management.
See a chiropractor. This is always one of our first recommendation for our clients. When the spine is in line, the body can function properly and help with energy, immune, stress, inflammation, and staying active - all key components are keeping your blood pressure down.
Find time to be mindful
Take time to really think on all of this. Your health is very important. Pay attention to what you are putting in your body and how you are treating it. Write things down you have trouble with… craving sugar after a long day or being really tired, lack of energy when you wake up (liver and kidney not functioning well) Have cheat meal days, but work a little harder to give your body the things to digest and use the bad things well the next day. Only you can improve so own these changes you need to make, and make the best of them.
Are you wondering if you can do all this? Is this too much? We promise you it's not. All the different compounds in prescription meds don’t touch this (better for your organs as well). Start small and you'll notice the more changes you make, the more you want to stick to them because the better you feel. Routine = Results = Routine. All you need to do is take that first step and we are here to help you do just that. Jamie works one-on-one to help you establish a routine, the right products, supplements, and food choices for you and if you're looking to decrease need for medication or stop all together, with the help of your doctor, she offers support and guidance through that as well because there is an appropriate and proper way to do this.
You can book a one-on-one with Jamie through this link: