Ask the Doctors
Dr. Victor Marchione
Chairman of the Doctors Health Press Medical Board
To read more about Dr. Marchione
The past few times I’ve had my blood pressure tested, the nurse told me I was in the “prehypertension” zone. She explained that I was at high risk of having high blood pressure. My doctor suggested that I consider some medication to keep my blood pressure levels safe. I am just wondering, what are some ways I can lower blood pressure myself?
The good news is that high blood pressure is one of those things that people can influence themselves. We can influence them in negative ways (by not exercising, by not paying attention to nutritious foods) and can influence them positively as well. You should work closely with your doctor if you are at risk of heart problems, but there is absolutely no reason why you can’t look into natural methods. Some are absolute musts anyway. Here is a great list of ways you could lower blood pressure and keep hypertension at a distance:
Greatly increase the amount of fruits and vegetables you eat. All heart-friendly diets include whopping amounts of these plant foods, because the natural chemicals in them exert positive effects, including the lowering of blood pressure. Aim for at least seven servings a day.
Consume low-fat dairy products. I have read many studies attesting to this one. Adding yogurt and milk to a low-fat diet could significantly drop blood pressure over the long term.
Eat fiber-rich foods. Fiber is proven to lower blood pressure, so get lots of whole grains each week. Check out food labels and see if they offer a good fiber bang for your buck.
Limit three things in particular. The first is salt—an absolute must. Salt raises blood pressure, so actively reduce your daily intake. Second is alcohol. Drinking even slightly beyond “moderation” can negatively affect your blood pressure level. Third are simple sugars, which are believed to promote hypertension. Limit your intake of sweets.
Researchers have found that taking several walks a day could help control blood pressure. Even a handful of 10-minute walks would be excellent. They have been specifically found to help those with prehypertension.
I believe a breathing device called “RESPeRATE” could be quite effective. It’s small, portable, and helps you pace your breathing—which in turn lowers blood pressure by relaxing muscles around blood vessels. Google “RESPeRATE” and see what you find.
There is a boatload of supplements believed to help control blood pressure. Most notable is potassium, which may be your best nutrient to battle high blood pressure. The list of possibilities includes CoQ10, garlic extract, stevia, fish oil, probiotics, calcium, magnesium, vitamin C, folic acid, hawthorn, and grape seed.
Chinese medicine offers a few choice options. One is tai chi, whose slow, relaxing movements have shown great benefit for high blood pressure. Another is acupuncture, which is well-tested and has a slew of studies saying that it works. Paying a trip to a Chinese practitioner cannot hurt; he or she may also guide you toward a good herbal concoction.
Don’t be afraid to try out alternative therapies. Some of them have excellent results. Relaxation therapies such as focused breathing and meditation are well-proven to improve blood pressure. A technique known as biofeedback, where you learn how to control bodily functions, could bear results you would have never thought imaginable.