High blood pressure is often the first symptom to precede potentially fatal health conditions like type 2 diabetes, heart attack, and stroke. Managing blood pressure can therefore be used as a prevention technique. Unfortunately, some 28% of Americans arenât aware that they have hypertension. High blood pressure, however, is a modifiable risk factor for heart disease. If you are pre-hypertensive or have hypertension, there are things you can do at home to naturally manage and lower your blood pressure.
There are two types of blood pressure: primary hypertension and secondary hypertension. Primary hypertension isnât caused by a virus or a bacterial infection, but rather is almost entirely related to lifestyle factors. Conversely, secondary hypertension is often caused by another disease or medications.
High blood pressure is typically the result of either one, or a combination of the following factors:
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Poor diet
- Excess weight
- Lack of knowledge about food
- High stress levels
- Poor sleep patterns
- Alcohol use
At home, there are many steps you can take to reduce or manage high blood pressure. It all starts with making small changes to your lifestyle and implementing a progressive plan to improve and maintain heart health. Here is how to get started.
In This Article:
Managing Your Blood Pressure at Home Naturally
1. Start Moving
A large body of research suggests that regular physical activity can lessen the blood pressure-raising effects of a sedentary lifestyle. For example, a 2013 meta-analysis of 23 studies looked at 1,226 formerly sedentary older adults. Researchers found that aerobic exercise training lowered resting systolic and diastolic blood pressure by 3.9% and 4.5% respectively.
Exercise will naturally strengthen your heart muscle, and allow it to pump with less effort. This decreases the force on your arteries and lowers your blood pressure.
Most doctors recommend 30 to 60 minutes of moderate to high-intensity aerobic exercise three to five times a week for high blood pressure patients. However, low to moderate activity can be just as effective for lowering your blood pressure.
Getting started is key. There is research indicating that getting up every hour or two for five minutes for a little walk can help blood circulate and reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease.
So, if youâre at home or at work and notice youâve been planted for a while, get up and go for a little stroll. An even better option might be to put some sneakers on and get outside for a walk! As you make a concerted effort to put more activity in your day, over time, you can reduce your sedentary periods.
In addition to finding more ways to move, like:
- Getting up every couple of hours (or even every hour)
- Going for walks at home or in the neighborhood
- Walking during lunch breaks
- Walking after dinner
- Parking further from the entrance at work, errands, and other places.
- Starting a garden
- Taking dance classes
- Doing yard work
- Standing to watch TV, work
You can also begin to focus on exercise. The kind of activity listed above is generally classified as Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT), which is all the energy people burn per day that does not include eating, sleeping, or sports-like exercise.
For sedentary individuals, increasing NEAT is essential, but including some dedicated sports-specific exercise time is extremely beneficial to lowering blood pressure. This can include anaerobic activity like strength training and weight lifting, as well as aerobic activity like jogging, swimming, cycling, etc. at a moderate pace.
If you are currently healthy and donât have high blood pressure, you can look into various exercise programs available to you. Choosing a variety of modalities (aerobic and anaerobic) is best, and trying to hit a minimum of 30 minutes per day of this type of exercise is recommended.
If you do have high blood pressure or pre-hypertension, talk to your doctor about starting an exercise program and how to best incorporate it into your lifestyle.
Also read:Â 3 Easy Exercises to Lower Blood Pressure
2. Eat Healthy, Whole Foods
A nutrient-dense diet is another essential component to lowering blood pressure naturally at home. The DASH diet, Mediterranean Diet, Ketogenic diet and Paleo-style diet can all be helpful.
DASH and Mediterranean diets, generally speaking, encourage plenty of leafy greens, colorful vegetables, legumes, fruits, healthy fats, and moderate amounts of lean protein. Whole grains are also a part of these two diets while also being featured in Paleo-style eating, which puts a little more emphasis on protein.
A keto approach focuses more on high intake of healthy fats, moderate protein, leafy greens, and very low carbohydrate intake. The two factors they all share are nutrient-dense foods with useful calories and a lack of processed foods that are common in the Standard American Diet (SAD).
Processed and packaged foods, refined foods, and sugar-laden snacks are a major culprit in heart disease because they lack important nutrients like potassium and magnesium, as well as elements like fiber, that are central to healthy blood pressure and heart function. They are also loaded with sodium, which makes your body retain fluid, leading to a spike in blood pressure.
Potassium is an electrolyte that helps balance sodium levels and eases pressure on your blood vessels. Your potassium to sodium ratio should be about 2:1.
You can boost your potassium levels by eating potassium-rich foods like:
Magnesium is another nutrient that helps regulate blood pressure and allows blood to move more freely. Magnesium-rich foods include:
- Dark chocolate
- Black beans
- Flax seeds
- Whole grains
Pay attention to reducing processed foods and including more fruit, veggies, legumes, nuts, healthy fats and lean proteins and youâll certainly notice improvements in blood pressure.
Also read:Â 20 Tasty Vegetables That Lower Blood Pressure
3. Drink Healthy
What you drink at home or when out and about can also influence blood pressure, and it can have acute or chronic benefits. For example, beet root juice can act as a vasodilator by enhancing production of nitric oxide. This works to relax blood vessels and arteries so that blood moves through more easily.
Similar effects on arteries are noted by drinking red wine, although in that case, it has more to do with its antioxidant profile.
There is evidence showing that regular consumption of coconut water can lead to lower blood pressure in hypertensive individuals, and can therefore be a useful tool in a diet focused on lowering blood pressure.
For natural, long-term protection from high blood pressure, however, focus on drinking more water and less sugary sodas, juices, and sports drinks.
If you drink three cans of soda or glasses of orange juice per day, try adding a few glasses of water. Next, try replacing the sodas, juices, or energy drinks with water.
If you can eventually get to a point where you’ve adequately hydrated from water intake alone and not drinking soda or other sugary beverages, youâll be doing the most for your blood pressure and heart health.
Monitor your caffeine intake to see how it makes you feel. Those who regularly drink heavily can lower their systolic blood pressure by 2 to 4 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) and their diastolic blood pressure by 1 to 2 mm Hg by cutting back to moderate drinking.
Also read:Â 10 Healthy Drinks That Lower Blood Pressure
4. Cut Down on Sodium, Add More Herbs and Spices
Sodium intake is a major contributor to high blood pressure and heart disease because, in high amounts, it constricts blood flow. Sodium alone is not harmfulâits effects on blood pressure are dose-dependent. The American Heart Association recommends a daily intake of no more than 1,500 milligrams (mg).
As weâve noted, the processed and refined foods featured in the SAD are loaded with sodium, even when they donât taste salty. Sweet barbecue sauces, white bread, and muffins, for example, are all laced with sodium that puts the average Americanâs intake well beyond safe and recommended levels. If youâre buying something in a bag or can, you can bet itâs been showered in salt.
A diet thatâs based mainly around whole fruits and vegetables, nuts, healthy fats, legumes, and natural proteins will naturally limit your sodium intake.
Aside from salt and pepper, you can add various other seasonings and herbs to meals. Some with specific benefits for lowering blood pressure naturally may include garlic, turmeric, cinnamon, and basil.
5. Meditate, Reduce Stress
Stress is another major contributor to high blood pressure, and finding ways to reduce it can be beneficialâbut it takes work. The effects of mindfulness, meditation, and deep breathing require the acquisition of a specific skill set that can be implemented both as an acute defense mechanism to periods of stress and for providing long-term benefits by helping you better deal with stress.
A review of 17 studies on the effects of yoga on blood pressure, published in 2013, found that the ancient practice could lower levels by an average of 3.62 to 4.17 milliliters of mercury (mmHg).
If youâre looking for a time-sensitive way to lower blood pressure at home during periods of stress, learning deep breathing and meditative techniques can offer significant benefits.
6. Sleep Well
How you sleep can also play a role in lowering your blood pressure naturally, and forming good sleep habits can help promote a heart-healthy lifestyle. You can ensure a deeper, more restful sleep by:
- Limiting exposure to blue light from screens up to two hours before bed; this includes smartphones, tablets, television, and computer. You can also try wearing blue-blocking glasses or setting devices to ânighttimeâ mode.
- Winding down at the end of the day by avoiding stressful conversations, stimulating activity (other than sex), eating, or spending time in well-lit rooms; start relaxing with a book, magazine, bath, knitting, or another quiet hobby.
- Clearing your room of clutter and screens, creating an optimal environment for relaxation; limit bedroom use to sex and sleep.
- Taking magnesium or melatonin supplements; discuss the benefits of supplements with your doctor first.
- Making sure your bedroom is as dark and quiet as possible; purchase blackout blinds or earplugs as required.
7. Try Homeopathy
Homeopathyâs potential benefits in the battle against hypertension and high blood pressure may lie in the stress and anxiety realm. There are a series of homeopathic medicines, such as Lachesis, Allium sativa, Natrum mur, and glonoine, used to naturally treat a variety of conditions that can lead to emotional stress and anxiety at home.
These are best discussed on an individual basis with a homeopathic doctor.
8. Music Therapy
Music can also play a key role in stress management and providing an acute remedy to periods of high blood pressure. If your heart is racing, take some time to sit down at home and listen to some soothing music that helps you relax.
You can also sit back and listen to songs that make you feel good to ease stress.
9. Check Your Surroundings
Some studies have found that particulate matter in the atmosphere and your proximity to freeways, airports, and noise can all lead to high blood pressure in one way or another.
Although their influence is, for the most part, beyond your control and minimal in comparison to the influence of diet and exercise, you can make an effort to limit time outdoors when pollution levels are particularly high.
10. Other Lifestyle Changes
Lifestyle habits like smoking and drinking can both influence health and blood pressure negatively. Smoking is highly dangerous for your overall health and the risks are well-documented.
Drinking, however, seems to be a little more confusing. In some cases, and in certain populationsâparticularly those 60 and olderâalcohol consumption can actually have positive effects on blood pressure.
The effects are both dose-dependent and based on the type of alcohol consumed, but research seems to indicate that a glass of wine can help naturally relax arteries and encourage blood flow that can lead to lower blood pressure.
Is this an excuse to drink a bottle of wine every night or a reason to start drinking if you donât currently? Nope! Once again, the benefits of wine can be negligible in comparison with those achieved from exercise and better food choices.
You Can Lower Blood Pressure Naturally
Lowering blood pressure naturally is possible; and with some effort, you can see the results for yourself. Whether your goal is to prevent hypertension and lower your risk for cardiovascular disease or find a way to manage blood pressure during stressful situations, at-home remedies are widely available.
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