- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
How to Lower Blood Pressure Without Medication
Why I Care
I typically do not divulge this information to people who do not already know, but I just turned...30. It wasn't nearly as painful as I thought it would be. Heck, I still feel as young as ever and I can keep up with most of the teenagers in my neighborhood. Since I have three small kids I need to make sure I can still sprint to catch one before she runs into the road, to then turn around and dive to catch the softball another one lobbed at her sister's head. Even at my age, I feel great. That is why I was in shock to hear my doctor tell me I need to watch my blood pressure.
My doctor takes my blood pressure at every appointment, as I'm sure is standard procedure with most doctors. Usually doc tells me my blood pressure is fine and I'm doing a great job with it. However, at an appointment a few months ago, she told me to schedule another appointment to have my blood pressure checked again because it was higher than normal. I was in shock and never made it to the next appointment. I did not want to take anymore medication and I was not ready to hear that it was necessary. Instead of the appointment, I went online and searched everywhere for methods to lower blood pressure without medication.
Before you read any further, I need to tell you that if your doctor says you need the medication, take it. Unfortunately, high blood pressure increases your chances for stroke, impaired vision, atherosclerosis (hardened arteries), kidney damage, heart attacks, and congestive heart failure. While you are taking the medication, you can implement a healthy lifestyle to lower your blood pressure and perhaps stop the medication later on. Below are the best lifestyle changes you can take to keep your blood pressure in a healthy range or to lower it back to a healthy range.
The first lifestyle change is to eat healthier. What you eat has a huge impact on your blood pressure. Sodium, cholesterol, fat, red meats, and sweets all have the potential for increasing your blood pressure. Dieticians recommend a diet high in fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, whole grains, fish, poultry, and nuts. Although nuts get a bad rap for being high in fat, they are also an excellent source of protein and most of the fat content is unsaturated, meaning it's actually good for you. Yale - New Haven Hospital published a report stating that nuts are great for healthy skin and hair, for blood pressure control, for immune response, and for blood clotting. Eating healthier does not need to be difficult. Simply change menu items to reflect low-or no-sodium options, choose whole grains and natural foods, and choose lean cuts of fish and poultry. You can also substitute ingredients in recipes to make them healthier. I started using egg whites instead of eggs, light mayo instead of regular, and nonfat yogurt instead of buttermilk or sour cream. I also remove the skin from poultry and replace ground beef with ground chicken or ground turkey.
The second lifestyle change is to maintain your ideal weight. As your weight increases, your blood pressure increases. If you need to lose weight you can set small, healthy goals and reward yourself as you reach each goal. But don't reward yourself with food! If you start eating healthier per step one, weight loss is bound to occur. You can easily get two birds with one stone, as the old saying goes.
The third lifestyle change is to get up and move. You can start out as slow as necessary and work your way up to at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day. And no need to worry, those 30 minutes a day can even be broken up into 3 10-minute workouts a day. Some ideas for squeezing in extra physical activity include taking the stairs at work, parking as far away from buildings as you can to walk more, and working in your yard or garden.
The fourth lifestyle change is to limit alcohol. I know this one may be a little rough for some of us, but alcoholic drinks are loaded with calories that increase your weight. Not as good thing if you are trying to lose weight and eat healthier. If you are going to drink, it is best to do it in moderation. The National Heart Lung and Blood Association recommends no more than one drink a day for women and 2 drinks a day for men.
The fifth lifestyle change is to quit smoking. Smoking speeds up the hardening of the arteries that may be caused by high blood pressure and just compounds the problem. Of course, there are many other reasons to quit smoking including the risk of lung cancer and emphysema.
No matter the method you choose to control your high blood pressure, make sure you speak about it with your doctor. Some methods may work well for one person and not the next. With the risks involved, I would not recommend playing the guessing game.