Heart disease used to be considered a “guy thing,” but not anymore. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women.
High blood pressure is one of the most powerful contributing factors to heart disease because it taxes the heart and makes it more difficult for your body to reap the benefits of healthy, oxygenated blood. Also, high blood pressure is the second-highest cause of kidney failure – so regulating your blood helps your heart and your kidneys at the same time.
5 Tips to Lower Your Blood Pressure Without Medications
For many, a diagnosis of high- or higher-normal blood pressure (Click Here to view new blood pressure guidelines) means getting on medication. While medication is necessary for some, most people can avoid taking high blood pressure medicine – or notably lower dosage and frequency – by adhering to these 5 simple tips.
1. Shrink your waist line
Yes, regulating your weight and keeping it within your optimal target range is ideal, but studies show that those with thicker middles are the most likely to have high blood pressure. Since we’ve established carbs (sugars) are the biggest contributors to that “middle weight,” cutting back on sugars and processed foods makes a visible difference.
2. Make time to exercise
Your heart needs a good workout to stay healthy – and that means getting exercise for at least 30-minutes a day. Doing so lowers adult’s blood pressure by about 5 to 8 mm Hg. Designing a daily workout routine is great, but you can also get exercise in by:
- Parking further away in the lot and walking more to/from your car
- Taking the stairs
- Picking up the pace as you walk shop
- Walking or biking to locations that are 3 or less miles from home
- Investing in under-the-desk cycling equipment to burn calories while you work or watch TV
- Walking or jogging around the track (or the neighborhood) while kids are at sports practice
3. Keep a food diary and make modifications
Not-so-healthy foods (and drinks) may be creeping into your diet more often than you’re aware. Keep a food diary and track everything you eat for at least two weeks. Then review it and make adjustments as needed.
In our post, 7 Tips to a Healthier You, we cite orienting your food intake around the premises of an anti-inflammatory diet. According to John’s Hopkins Medicine, those who make the switch to an anti-inflammatory diet, “decrease bad cholesterol, lower blood pressure and reduce high blood sugar, too…”
4. Drink in moderation
There is a direct link between high-blood pressure and those who drink above the “moderate” range. Unfortunately for those of us who love happy hour or a couple glasses of wine before and during dinner – “moderate” means one alcoholic drink per day for women, and two for men. Try to stick to that as much as possible and see if it helps to lower your BP.
5. Lowering caffeine intake could help
Studies vary when it comes to linking high blood pressure with caffeine intake. It turns out it’s a personal thing; some people are more sensitive to caffeine than others (sensitivity can increase with age), and consuming caffeinated beverages can elevate blood pressure for the sensitive folks as much as 5 to 10 mm Hg.
Test yourself by taking your blood pressure (most pharmacies have a BP machine available for free) and then drinking a caffeinated beverage. Test your blood pressure again after 30-minutes to see if it went up. If you learn you’re caffeine-sensitive, order half-caf drinks or switch to decaffeinated coffees or sodas instead.
Bonus Tips: Quit Smoking and Manage Your Stress!
Other factors that elevate blood pressuring include smoking and stress.
You already know the m.o. regarding smoking – quit ASAP. Please talk to your doctor about the best cessation method for you. Stress is a trickier one to avoid. A healthy diet, regular exercise and good sleep facilitate stress management – but we recommend checking out some of the new mindfulness apps available on your phone or gadget. Find one that works for you and start using it. You may be surprised.
And of course, one of the Overlake Team’s favorite piece of advice for lowering blood pressure – laugh often! It’s good for your health.