Have you ever considered what your numbers are? Not your weight or your step count. Your blood pressure! Dr Jason Kaplan, Integrative and Preventive Cardiologist, gives you a guide to knowing your blood pressure and how to manage it naturally.
The latest National Heart Foundation guidelines say the target blood pressure reading for an otherwise healthy adult is 120/80 millimetres of mercury (mmHg), with a reading of more than 140/90 mmHg considered too high. If you fall in the high category, your doctor may prescribe you with blood pressure lowering medicine, however there are many natural ways to successfully reduce high blood pressure, which can help you avoid, delay or reduce the need for medication.
- Watch your waistline
Blood pressure often increases as weight increases. Being overweight also can cause disrupted breathing while you sleep (sleep apnoea), which further raises your blood pressure.
If you are overweight, weight loss is one of the most effective lifestyle changes for controlling blood pressure.
- Less sodium, more potassium
You’ve probably heard that salt and high blood pressure don’t mix. If you have high blood pressure, the National Heart Foundation recommends reducing salt to 4 g (1600 mg sodium) per day. This is about half the average Australian adult’s current salt intake! Most of our sodium comes from processed foods, so stick with whole foods where possible.
On the flipside, eating potassium-rich foods can counter sodium’s ill effects. Reach for foods such as bananas, sweet potatoes, baked potatoes with the skin on, tomatoes, and orange juice.
- Eat more Garlic or try a Garlic extract
A recent Australian study found that Kyolic Aged Garlic Extract significantly reduces blood pressure in adults with uncontrolled hypertension, offering hope to those who don’t respond well to prescription medications or would prefer a natural therapy.
- Limit alcohol
For healthy men and women, Australian guidelines recommend drinking no more than two standard alcoholic drinks on any day to reduce the risk of harm from alcohol-related disease over a lifetime. Drinking more than this can raise blood pressure in some people and also reduce the effectiveness of blood pressure medications.3
- Move more & stress less!
Amongst other things, chronic stress is a significant contributor to high blood pressure, so it’s worth taking some time to think about what causes you to feel stressed and how you can eliminate or reduce that stress.
Aim for 30 minutes of exercise most days. You don’t have to go to the gym – moderate intensity exercise such as swimming, cycling etc or walking the kids to school can all add up.
Make time for relaxation too relaxation too. Just 15 to 20 minutes a day to sit quietly and breathe deeply can really make a difference as it can help reduce stress hormones.
Aside from implementing these health tips consistently, it is a good idea to have your blood pressure checked by your General Practitioner or at your local pharmacy at least once a year, for healthy adults.
For individuals over 40 years of age and for those with high blood pressure and other risk factors for cardiovascular disease, more frequent measurements will be required.