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How to Beat High Blood Pressure

Updated on October 4, 2014
Source: Morguefile
Source: Morguefile

Eating Your Way to a Healthy Blood Pressure

When blood pressure creeps into the 140s, many of us reach for pills because we don't know what else to do. This Hubpage is about other options -- ways to keep blood pressure under control without drugs. In it I recommend books, websites, foods and other resources I've discovered in my own quest for a healthy blood pressure.

We need to be proactive about our health, but don't play doctor. Be sure you talk to your medical doctor about diet and lifestyle changes to help you keep your blood pressure in check. He or she may have some suggestions for you. They certainly should approve any supplements, new exercise program or dietary changes.

If you've battled high blood pressure and won, feel free to contact me and share your strategies!

Oh, by the way, grapefruit is a good food to eat to keep your blood pressure in check, but it doesn't combine well with certain medications. So if you are taking prescription drugs or supplements, you'd better check with you doctor first. You may find it's okay to eat other citrus. I use lemons, oranges, and grapefruit with good results.

What You Can Do to Help Yourself

Often the cause of high blood pressure is unknown. Doctors may not discuss the issue, or may write it off to your lifestyle, your heredity, or stress. But the very best way to cure your high blood pressure is to root out the cause. Your doctor may think he knows the cause. You may think you know the cause. Or neither of you may have a clue. But there is someone who knows the true reason for it: God.

Yeah, God. God knows everything. He knows you better than anyone. If you seek God, if you ask him to tell you why, he might not only answer you, but he might heal you of your high blood pressure! So I've put together four easy steps for you to combat this thing. It starts with God.

* Pray. Get others to pray for you. * Seek God and try to live a life of faith, not fearing tomorrow or tomorrow's troubles. Don't even fear high blood pressure. Jesus is Lord of all. He is Lord of your circumstances. Declare him Lord of your blood pressure And try not to stay angry. Give all your battles/concerns to God. Then try to think of something pleasant... (Be sure to read the section below, "Get to the Root." Pastor Henry Wright's teaching explains the spiritual causes of high blood pressure. " Pastor Henry's teaching is used with permission.)

* Have a heart-to-heart talk with your doctor. Tell him or her you don't want to be on blood pressure medicine. Talk about your lifestyle, your diet, your exercise habits, any other health issues and stresses in your life. Talk about how you deal with stress. Your doctor may find there is an underlying physical cause that can be treated. You also may want to ask him what to do when your pressure is elevated. When should you call him or her? Should you take some vinegar to bring it down? Take a walk? Take a relaxing shower in warm water?

* Monitor your blood pressure at home. Look for trends. Try to avoid weirding out when your blood pressure gets a little higher than normal. Try taking it again in a little awhile. Don't panic; it doesn't help. You'll feel better if you have a doctor you trust, who you can call for advice.

* Be patient, yet persistent. It's quite possible your blood pressure has been rising steadily for awhile. It may not drop back to normal levels all at once. But as you seek God, live the life of faith, cut your stress and make those lifestyle changes your doctor suggested, you may find your blood pressure returns to normal levels -- without medication.

A More Excellent Way, Be in Health: Spiritual Roots of Disease, Pathways to Wholeness (w/DVD)
A More Excellent Way, Be in Health: Spiritual Roots of Disease, Pathways to Wholeness (w/DVD)

This book is an excellent resource for those battling all spiritually rooted disease, including high blood pressure. It is not intended to take the place of medical advice or medicines, but instead helps you seek God for freedom from the spiritual causes of disease. This is an excellent reference book you can use again and again to pray for others and youself.

 

Get to the Root

Get to the root of high blood pressure by cutting stress and battling fear and anger. *

Pastor Henry Wright of Pleasant Valley Church in Thomaston, Georgia, has linked high blood pressure to these spiritual problems. So resist them as you pray and seek God. Maybe you need to replace that stressful job; maybe you need to learn to deal with stress in a healthier way. God knows. He knows what's right for you...

Pastor Henry's blook, A More Excellent Way, will help you root out the causes of high blood pressure and other spiritually rooted diseases. It's not as quick as popping a pill, but it's a great long-term solution. You can buy the book in English or Spanish here.

In the meantime, begin seeking God in prayer and resisting fear and stress. Learn to take work breaks and not let stress build. The prayer of agreement from fellow believers is a power aid.

* Pastor Henry's teaching is used with permission.

Pink grapefruit  (Photo Cheryl Rogers)
Pink grapefruit (Photo Cheryl Rogers)

Change your Diet and Lifestyle

There several foods which may help you keep a handle on your blood pressure: Garlic, apple cider vinegar, and the natural sweetener stevia among them. Make them staples in your diet and you may be able to avoid prescription drugs, at least for awhile.

Dr. Julian Whitaker outlines a wellness diet in his book Reversing Hypertension. This book is a comprehensive guide to changing your diet and lifestyle, incorporating exercise and heart-healthy foods. Also learn more about supplements which may lower your pressure as well as blood pressure medications. See the link below under "Recommended from Amazon.com."

Foods I've found helpful include: Pomegranate juice, fresh beet juice, grapefruit juice, orange juice, lemonade made with stevia, hot cocoa made with stevia, turkey, fish, brown rice, beans, and bananas. Some may find controlling their sugar and carbohydrates helps keep their blood pressure regulated, so in those cases you may want to skip the bananas and/or beet juice. Brown rice syrup is recommended by Dr. Whitaker. It tastes a bit like butterscotch and when eaten in larger quantities can make your eyes bloodshot.

Dr. Whitaker also points out that oils thicken the blood. So omitting or reducing cooking oils and opting for non-fat cheese and yogurt might be a real help. Skip fried foods and other foods with a high fat content as well. While fat is a detriment, boosting your low-fat protein may be a plus. Of course this, too, can be overdone, so be sure to get your doctor's advice.

Some Things to Consider

As you monitor your blood pressure at home, you'll want to see how your blood pressure reacts to your diet. You'll want to see how it responds to increased protein, increased fiber, sugars and fats. Depending on your doctor's advice, you also may want to see how it responds to vinegar, grapefruit, and even Vitamin D.

One of the more dramatic trends I noticed was an improvement of several points for eating seafood. So I began eating seafood daily. Then, it became apparent I could substitute the fish for another lean high quality protein like turkey or chicken breast.

In my effort to stay trim, I actually had cut back on my meats. I would often limit the bulk of my protein to the mid-day or evening meal, having a smaller amount of protein at the other sitting. Was this a bad habit that caught up with me? I wonder. I since have learned a regular serving of meat or fish, or at least rice and beans and preferably meat and rice and beans, helped lower my systolic blood pressure 10-20 points. The maximum results were for doing this regularly. Even doing this for one day showed results.

So, to keep the record straight, that means two servings of a lean meat and/or fish daily, or at least one and beans daily, plus some dairy, eggs or nuts. The meat and fish portions can be the size of your palm. Large portions will likely cause weight gain -- not a good thing. So consult with your doctor about changes to your diet; too much protein may make things worse.

You may find sugars increase your blood pressure, or you may find it causes you to become sleepy. Your blood pressure may decline as well. Watch how your blood pressure reacts to a steak dinner or fried foods, if you like to eat them.Try testing yourself when you are strict about salt consumption and when you are lax.

My regular tests showed good readings after eating brown rice and homemade beans made with garlic and onions, a good protein also high in fiber. You may want to test your blood pressure with an increased fiber diet, one which includes more whole grains such as brown rice.

In my own case, my doctor ordered bloodwork to check on my Vitamin D level and it was low. I believe adding a Vitamin D supplement was helpful to me, although it may not be a factor if you spend enough time outdoors or consume more Vitamin D-enriched foods. Be sure to get your doctor's advice on how much to take; you don't want to cause any cholesterol problems for taking too much.

You also may notice your blood pressure drops a few points if you are taking apple cider vinegar, drinking grapefruit or pomegranate juice, or eating a banana or apricots.

When you keep track of your blood pressure regularly, you will learn what is most helpful to you. If there are deficiencies causing or contributing to your problem, you may be able to pinpoint and eradicate them with God's and your doctor's help.

Blood Pressure Monitors from Amazon

If your blood pressure is creeping upwards, especially upwards of 140, you may want to begin monitoring your blood pressure. Browse these machines to buy a monitor and keep tabs of your blood pressure at home, where you can learn of any problems early.

Home monitoring gets you used to the idea of having your blood pressure taken, which may lessen your stress at the doctor's office and enable you to get a better score. It also may warn you it's time to cut fat and sugar in your diet, lose weight, exercise or begin more proactive measures to keep your blood pressure in check.

Unless you're a nurse or health care professional, you'll probably want an automatic monitor like these to simplify the process.

Cutting your Stress

There's going to be stress in your life and that stress will likely raise your blood pressure. Hopefully, your blood pressure is controlled enough to take those bumps in the road. But if you are on the high side of normal, or even a little above that, your everyday stress levels could take your blood pressure above the acceptable range.

Why not look for ways to cut stress in your life? Learn to build in breaks, or more breaks, into your routine. There's no escaping the stress of a sick family member or challenging job, but you can learn to adapt to circumstances so your stress is checked. You may want to switch to a less stressful job, pay a caretaker to help with your duties, or even retire ahead of schedule. You'll probably find retirement frees your schedule for activities you really want to do, cuts your overall stress, and reduces your blood pressure naturally.

Exersize (oh that again) is great to cut your stress. Reading is great. Relaxing showers and baths are great. So is music. And hobbies. These will help you reduce stress. Don't be surprised if you get a 15 or 20-point reduction. Wow.

Recommended from Amazon.com

Reversing Hypertension: A Vital New Program to Prevent, Treat, and Reduce High Blood Pressure
Reversing Hypertension: A Vital New Program to Prevent, Treat, and Reduce High Blood Pressure

This comprehensive guide may be all you need to take control of your blood pressure. Dr. Whitaker outlines diet, exercise, and supplement recommendations which may allow you to sidestep prescription drugs. The book also explains side effects of various blood pressure medicines. I credit Dr. Whitaker and this book for helping me to get my blood pressure down in a very challenging and stressful time in my life.

 

Don't Mess Around

High blood pressure shouldn't be ignored, so don't let it get high without seeking professional help. Once it is elevated, if you want to tinker with your diet and lifestyle, do so under a doctor's supervision. Seek out a doctor who is compatible with your preferences, who will allow you to lose some weight, add some grapefruit and pomegranate juice to your diet, or try some supplements he approves for you.

Supplements and herbal remedies can be quite potent, so don't think it's okay to experiment without medical advice. You may find grapefruit is not compatible with your other medicines, or that it enhances their effectiveness. You may find some of these remedies, especially when used in combination, lower your blood pressure too much.

So whatever you do, get the guidance of a trained medical professional and follow it. Monitor your own blood pressure at home to get a feel for trends. This will help you discover what is working, what isn't, and when it's time to get help.

Beans and More Beans

Beans have gotten a somewhat bad rap in some circles because they can give you gas. But the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages. Beans are cheap, tasty and good for you! They are one of my staple foods to keep my blood pressure under better control.

Blood pressure medicine can get pretty expensive. Beans are cheap and there are lots of different kinds. Fix them with garlic, onions, olive oil and herbs like oregano and/or bay leaf. If you are not used to eating beans, ease into them with small servings at first. Later you may want to sit down to a bowl of bean soup or serve it along with your rice.

In the meantime, if you are cooking the beans yourself, there are some tips you should know. There are lots of bean recipes which rely on canned beans. Yep, they're easier and they probably taste real good too. BUT canned beans usually have quite a bit more salt. You should cook your own without salt or, at the very least, read your labels and pick a canned product which has a lower sodium content.

To reduce gas, most recipes suggest soaking your beans and discarding the water before cooking. OR cooking them in a pressure cooker and discarding the liquid before seasoning your beans and boiling them some more. I have one wonderful recipe that doesn't recommend discarding the water. Instead, it relies on soaking the black beans with green pepper overnight. Another gas-reducing tip is cooking with garlic.

The extra fiber in the beans is good for you, so if you need extra help dealing with the gas, you may want to try Beano.

Admittedly, cooking beans from scratch requires a bit of dedication, especially when you soak them the night before. I'm not always good at remembering to put the beans to soak before bedtime, so I like to use a pressure cooker. With a pressure cooker, you can put on a batch of beans an hour or two before dinner. You should plan to cook the beans with seasonings, or maybe boil them a little longer, to make sure all the beans are soft.

Pressure Cookers from Amazon

Beans are part of a healthy eating plan, but you may not want to make them yourself without a little help. Pressure cookers make cooking beans a LOT easier. You no longer have to have to remember to put your beans to soak overnight or early in the morning. Soften the beans in less than an hour, then finish on the stove or in your crock pot. Here are some products to choose from:

Crock Pots from Amazon

Crock pots are great to make those soups filled with healthy vegetables and/or beans. Make black beans, red beans any color beans easier with a pressure cooker and crock pot. Soften your beans in less than an hour, transfer to the crock pot along with your garlic, onions, oregano, etc., and do your thing. When you get home the beans are done. Add some brown rice for a complete protein or use a second crock pot. Brown rice is great for blood pressure too.

Beating Heart Disease with Plants - A Presentation by Dr. Esselstyn

Dr. Esselstyn, a Cincinnati doctor, has had great success treating heart patients through plant-based nutrition. Through use of the diet, some patients have even had heart disease reversed. This one is definitely food for thought....

More from Dr. Esselstyn

Cutting the Salt

Eating less salt is commonly recommended for lowering blood pressure. There added salt in our preserved and canned foods, in our teriyaki and soy sauces, in our spaghetti sauces, soup starters, cheeses, frozen foods, and gravy mixes. In short, it's hard NOT to get salt. Really cutting salt takes commitment. It takes label reading. And yeah, don't expect to eat out all the time, at least not without a care about what you order.

But even though salt is frequently considered a villain, at least regarding high blood pressure, our bodies do need salt. So don't view it as the enemy. Just recognize our fast food society has overused it. Many folks don't have an immediate consequence, while you may.

Here are some easy ways to reduce the salt in your diet, without going to extremes:

* Don't add salt to your food at the table. If you are the cook, consider cutting or eliminating salt in your cooking. Some of your other ingredients may already contain salt, like baking soda and butter. Talk to your doctor about replacing it with a light salt, or use herbs, garlic and onions.

* Skip the sauces and gravies, eat them less often, or make them yourself without the salt and fat. Again, if you are the cook, you have some leeway to use the juice of lean meats. You can also skim the fat and use the broth to make a homemade gravy without salt. Look for low-salt tomato sauce or paste, low-salt soy and other similar products for use in your own cooking.

* Avoid MSG, monosodium glutamate.

* Avoid cured meats. Regular barbecue is okay, just not the cured stuff with the added salt used as a preservative. Read your labels and choose reduced salt varieties whenever possible.

* Although saltwater fish are swimming in it, I have not usually found this to be a problem. Of course I am not a doctor, either. So raise the question with your doctor and get his/her advice. Some seafood tastes saltier than others. For example, seafood from the Gulf of Mexico may not taste as salty as seafood from the Atlantic. At different restaurants, I have found crab legs to be perfectly fine or salty to the taste. So let your taste buds help you and take some home if the seafood tastes saltier than normal. You can have some pomegranate juice to help you dump the extra salt you just consumed. And consider working up a good sweat during your next exercise session, if your doctor allows it. That will dump even more salt. Eating seafood may help you get the healthy natural salt your body was made to run on.

* Cheese can be pretty high in salt and fat content. So it's a good idea to eliminate the cheese at restaurants and choose lower salt varieties at the grocery. I use a non-fat mozzarella and non-fat cheddar with a lower sodium content.

So like anything else, it is a buyer beware situation. Try to make the best choices most of the time and trust God for the rest.

Cheryl Rogers
Cheryl Rogers

About the Author

Since high blood pressure runs on both sides of my family, I began watching my blood pressure as I approached menopause. Wanting to avoid prescription drugs, I began reading about alternatives and managing my own blood pressure through prayer and diet. After menopause hit, as I was caring for my mom in my own home, I went on prescription medicine.

I was one it for awhile and tried different medications. I kept the dosage lower through the use of supplements. I am now happy to report I am OFF medication and relying on supplements, including apple cider vinegar, olive leaf extract, and COQ10. I remain hopeful that reducing my toxin load may eventually improve my blood pressure still further. I believe God is our best ally no matter what we eat, or what supplements we take.

I would love to hear more about your efforts to control your blood pressure and what has worked and what has not worked. I'm a writer and I like to share what I learn, so I may write a book about it someday.

I currently write health-related articles for Central Florida Health News and Central Florida Doctor magazines. I've also written a number of ebooks including What You Should Know About Self Publishing and Book Marketing Tips for the Reluctant Marketer.

Among my Christian e-titles are Lost in the Woods: A Bible Camp Mystery for preteens and teens, Just Like Jonah Wail Tales storybook collection and Fast Track to Victory, A Christian Guidebook, a 40-lesson devotion book in a nondenominational format.

I publish an online magazine at www.newchristianbooksonlinemagazine.com


Exercise Regularly

Resist that temptation to be a couch potato. Learning to unwind by watching television, reading or surfing the Internet can be counterproductive. Moderation is the key; you want to avoid a sedentary lifestyle.

Take up tennis, gardening or even golf or bowling. It beats too many hours sitting around. If you've got a desk job, you'll need to balance that time with some vigorous, or even not so vigorous, physical activity on your off time.

It may take some extra effort to find an exercise routine that works for you, but it is well worth the effort. Consider visiting the beach and swimming or walking briskly on the shore. Maybe you can enjoy joining a bowling team with your friends, or even riding an exercise bike while surfing the web (I do.) If you like pretty flowers, or fresh homegrown produce, try raising your own. Do the housework yourself instead of hiring outside help. It will keep you moving.

It may take time to develop new habits, but be persistent. Your new routine will help you keep your heart strong, lower your stress and possibly your weight as well.

Keep Your Weight in Check

While eating the right foods are important, so is quantity. Lowering your weight may lower your blood pressure. You may find doctor-approved exercise will help you drop the weight, enabling you to have a health blood pressure.

So, try these foods and fill up on vegetables instead of fatty sweet foods. You may discover and leaner -- and healthier -- you!

Reader's Poll

As a writer I've got lots of ideas brewing for stories, articles and books. It's hard to find time for them all, so I need to be a bit selective and choose the projects which carry wider audience appeal. I'd appreciate your feedback.

Would you be interested in reading a book by me about lowering drug pressure without drugs?

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Leave feedback or make suggestions to help others.

© 2009 Cheryl Rogers

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    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 2 years ago from Oklahoma

      If you have to take the medications, you have to, but it is so much better to regulate your BP through diet.

    • bestbloodpressu profile image

      bestbloodpressu 4 years ago

      Many thanks for such an instructive lens. I really enjoyed reading it and got some helpful hints. I've suffered with Congestive Heart Failure for lots of years and have to observe my high blood pressure frequently. I have quite a few Lenses on hypertension that the other visitors may also find helpful too.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I don't have high blood pressure but it sure is a common health issue today. I like how you say to be both patient and persistent. I love beans and considered them a wonderful comfort food. Well done and so encouraging.