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
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.
The first step would be to stop
thrashing your body with stimulants like coffee, tobacco, and alcohol.
Smoking produces a significant rise in the blood pressure just within 2
minutes of intake. While you may find alcohol relaxing, when under
stress, it actually aggravates the problem. A small amount of alcohol
(one or two small pegs) may help you to relax but increasing intake and
drinking excessively with occasional bingeing may prove to be lethal!
Stick to not more than 3-4 pegs per week.
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.