By - Dr. Panchali Moitra (Woman and Child nutrition Expert)
Hypertension or high blood pressure is among the ailments that we have brought upon ourselves with modernization. The factors which make one prone to high blood pressure are in fact the same which makes one prone to all lifestyle disorders, namely being overweight, having high cholesterol levels, being a smoker, experiencing high levels of stress, drinking excessive alcohol, and being genetically prone or with a strong family history.
Adopting natural remedies to control high cholesterol and blood pressure levels is surely a better way to combat hypertension as most of the medications used for the same may be effective and necessary but most likely to be toxic in the long run.
High cholesterol and high Pressure:
There is a direct correlation between high cholesterol levels and elevated blood pressure. High cholesterol levels along with other lifestyle factors may lead to arteriosclerosis or hardening of the arteries which makes them rigid and resistant to expansion. This in turn results in increasing the blood flow resistance, thus causing a rise in blood pressure levels. The heart would in such case, need to pump the blood with greater force, which causes a strain on the entire cardiovascular system and increase the risk to heart attack and even stroke.
Salt intake and high Blood Pressure:
Excessive salt intake can lead to imbalances in many minerals, cause calcium depletion and increase the hardening of arteries. Salt restriction is researched to have a modest blood pressure lowering effect in people, especially those who are 'salt-sensitive'. Such people also benefit by taking salt substitutes, which are rich in potassium. However those suffering from kidney disease should check with their doctors before taking salt substitutes which are rich in potassium as unmonitored potassium intake may cause serious complications in such people.
So how do you lower your blood pressure levels?
- Start eating fresh stalks of celery every day.
- Garlic is yet another herb which is known to lower blood pressure and also help to reduce cholesterol & triglycerides. Garlic may be eaten fresh after crushing or taken in a capsule form. The compound allicin and diallyl sulphides are responsible for the healthful benefits. Cooking or exposing garlic to high temperature would however destroy its medicinal value.
- Drink as much vegetable juice as possible. Wheat grass juice and aloe vera juice are especially beneficial
- Eating fish two to three times a week helps in better pressure control. Alternatively you can even take fish oil supplements. Restrict red and organ meats.
- Switch to mono unsaturated fats like olive oil, almond and flax seeds from hydrogenated fats (present in margarine, processed foods, fried sweets)
- Fruits which are rich in potassium such as banana, guavas and vitamin C rich Oranges and sweet lime are recommended.
- Go for regular walks as they help to build up the cardio vascular strength by increasing the blood flow across the system.
- Lose weight if you are overweight as weight loss has an almost immediate effect on controlling blood pressure in most cases.
- Take adequate rest (sleep for 6-8 hrs) and adopt yoga/pranayam or deep breathing exercises to lower the pressure levels.
While some people may require medication to keep their blood pressure under control, most can lower it through changes in diet & life style. Losing weight, consuming specific vitamins and minerals through correct food choices and proper stress management helps to combat hypertension naturally.
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