High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, affects almost half of the adults in the U.S. Hypertension causes blood to apply long-term force to the artery walls, making sufferers more susceptible to heart disease and stroke.
While high blood pressure is concerning, it’s also a manageable condition. Here are several of the most effective ways you can lower your blood pressure without medication.
One of the best ways to reduce your blood pressure in the long term is to stay active.
2. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Overweight patients who lose as little as five to ten pounds can lower their blood pressure, and even light physical activity can have the same effect.
3. Add Healthy Foods to Your Diet
Studies show that adding certain foods to your diet can help lower your blood pressure. These foods include:
Protein-rich lean meats
Magnesium-rich vegetables, legumes, and whole grains
Flavonoid-supplying dark chocolate
Garlic or garlic extract
As you increase your consumption of healthy fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains, you’ll find an added benefit of less appetite for foods that can raise your blood pressure.
4. Reduce Consumption of Hypertension-Supporting Foods and Drinks
Studies show that reducing your consumption of sugar, refined carbohydrates, and prepackaged foods can lower your blood pressure. Additionally, drinks like alcohol and caffeine can raise your blood pressure.
5. Stop Smoking
Healthy blood pressure is another reason to quit smoking. The chemicals in tobacco can damage your blood vessel walls, causing inflammation and increasing the pressure.
6. Lower Your Stress Levels
Higher stress levels equal higher blood pressure, so taking steps to lower stress can benefit your physical health. Activities like yoga help your body and mind. Practicing meditation helps you find calm in any situation, and the simple act of petting an animal can instantly lower your blood pressure.
7. Cook at Home
Cooking at home lets you control the ingredients in your meals, namely sodium. Restaurant meals can have up to six times the amount of sodium as a home-cooked meal. Reduced sodium can result in reduced blood pressure.
8. Improve Your Sleep
A poor night’s sleep can negatively affect your blood pressure. People who sleep six hours a night or less have consistently higher blood pressure.
If you try these methods and find your blood pressure remains consistently high, consult your physician for the next steps, such as medications to control your hypertension.
When it comes to the minerals your body needs to perform well, calcium and potassium tend to get most of the attention. Yet, magnesium, a mineral responsible for more than 300 reactions throughout your body, is a key player in optimal nutrition and overall health. It helps to metabolize food, maintain strong bones, and control inflammation, but its most important job of all is regulating heart rhythm.
Magnesium & Heartbeat
Magnesium contributes to the transportation of electrolytes into a cell. Electrolytes, including potassium and calcium, are critical for the nerve signals and muscle contractions needed to maintain a stable heartbeat. According to the 2012 Framingham Heart Study, low magnesium correlates with atrial fibrillation, a heart malfunction in which the organ’s electrical system creates quivers in the upper chambers, ultimately creating an irregular heartbeat.
While further studies must be completed to determine whether increased magnesium intake can boost heart health, there do appear to be clear benefits of getting enough magnesium. One meta-analysis of more than 20 studies indicate magnesium supplements can lower blood pressure. This could ultimately contribute to improved heart health, since high blood pressure can lead to the thickening of the arteries, increasing the risk for heart attack, stroke, and heart failure. Separately, a link between elevated heart attack risk and low magnesium levels has also been established.
How Much Magnesium Does Your Body Need?
Healthy individuals have roughly 25 grams of magnesium stored in their bodies, which is concentrated mostly in the bones. Less than 1% is found in the blood, which is why diagnosing a magnesium deficiency presents challenges. With that said, certain populations are known to face a greater risk for a deficiency, including people with conditions that deplete the mineral. Individuals with gastrointestinal diseases, type 2 diabetes, and alcoholism may have low magnesium. Additionally, people taking diuretics and proton pump inhibitors share a greater risk for a magnesium deficiency.
Individuals with a diagnosed magnesium deficiency may be recommended for supplements, as increasing intake of the mineral could help avoid serious health issues, including irregular heartbeat, seizures, and muscle spasms. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA), or daily level of intake sufficient for nearly all healthy individuals, is 420 mg for male adults aged 31 and up, and 320 mg for women of the same age. Younger people may need less, while women who are pregnant may need more. Speak to your physician to determine what may be best for you.
Dietary Sources of Magnesium
While some foods, such as cereals, are enriched with added magnesium, there are also many food sources which are naturally high in the mineral. Almonds boast the greatest amount of magnesium, with 80 mg per serving. Spinach, cashews, soymilk, black beans, avocado, potatoes, and yogurt are also good sources of the nutrient.
Of course, if you’re experiencing symptoms such as irregular heartbeat or muscle spasms, it’s important to get to the bottom of it by consulting your physician before beginning any supplement regimen. For the right individuals, the benefits of magnesium can extend beyond heart health, leading to reduced inflammation and insulin resistance as well as improved exercise performance.
Potassium is a mineral which plays many important roles in the
body. It supports both cellular and electrical function, and is one of the
blood minerals called an electrolyte, meaning that it carries a small
electrical charge. The body uses this electricity to manage processes such as
fluid balance, muscle contractions, and nerve signals. Thus, when your body has
too much or too little potassium, it can alter many critical functions.
According to research, a potassium-rich diet can reduce blood pressure
and water retention. It may also prevent stroke, osteoporosis, and
kidney stones. In addition to keeping these conditions at bay, having optimal
potassium levels also supports your overall wellbeing. When potassium levels
dip too low, a condition called hypokalemia
can set in. It’s characterized by muscular cramping or weakness, depression,
insomnia, and cardiovascular complications, including abnormal heart rhythm.
With that said, it’s also possible to get too much potassium, which is why most
medical experts agree that getting the mineral through diet is the safest way
to maintain optimal levels.
Unless you have a known kidney disorder or another condition
which would cause you to limit your potassium consumption, you can aim for up
milligrams per day of the mineral. Below, we’ve compiled a list of
potassium-rich foods to start incorporating into your diet.
7 Foods High in Potassium
Beet Greens: When cooked, a 100-gram serving of beet greens has over 900 mg of potassium! When they’re in season (June through October), try sautéed beets with a little garlic and olive oil.
White Potatoes: Oftentimes, starchy foods like white potatoes get a bad reputation. In reality, white potatoes are high in nutrients, and 3.5 ounces of baked white potatoes contain 544 mg of potassium.
Pinto Beans: Versatile pinto beans can be added to chili, served as a side dish, or incorporated into salads and burritos. And, with nearly 650 mg, they pack a powerful punch of potassium.
Greens: There’s a reason kale is hailed as a superfood. As one of the most nutrient-dense but low-calorie foods on the planet, it is an excellent source of vitamins C and K, antioxidants, and has nearly 450 mg of potassium. Spinach, too, is a strong contender, and a 100-gram serving has 466 mg of the mineral when cooked.
Salmon: Fish like wild salmon and halibut are loaded with potassium, and most will satisfy upwards of 10% of your daily recommended intake. They’re also rich in vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids.
Avocado: Another superfood, avocados are packed with fiber, heart-healthy fatty acids, and potassium. A single serving meets 14% of your daily recommended value for potassium, too.
Bananas: The yellow fruit has rightfully earned its longstanding reputation as a potassium-rich food. Yet, with roughly 350 mg per serving, all of the other foods on this list actually contain more potassium than bananas!
Do you have questions?
We have answers. Speak with a Stemedix Care Coordinator today with no obligation. Give us a call!
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