Hypertension or high blood pressure is a common problem and one of the biggest risk factors for heart disease. The good news is you can take steps to control it with a healthy diet and healthy lifestyle. But first, let us get to know this condition better!
What is hypertension?
See, basically when the heart contracts and relaxes, the blood flowing through the blood vessels (arteries) pushes against the walls of these arteries as it courses through our body creating blood pressure.
Now, when the blood pressure is consistently high, it is called high blood pressure or hypertension. When this happens, the walls of the arteries become slack and eventually hard, losing their flexibility. This means the heart must work harder to pump blood. And this makes it weak, putting it at risk for heart disease and stroke.
Normal blood pressure in a healthy adult is 120/80 where 120 is the pressure generated when the heart pumps blood or contracts and 80 is the pressure in the blood vessels when the heart takes a break between heart beats. If your blood pressure is slightly more or less than 120/80, there is nothing to worry about. But when it goes up to say, 140/90 and stays around there, there’s a possibility of hypertension.
Hypertension – causes, signs and symptoms
Hypertension can run in the family – so if you have a family history of high blood pressure, you are at risk too. Other causes include:
- being overweight / obesity
- a diet high in salt and fat
- an inactive lifestyle
- alcohol consumption
High blood pressure makes itself known through headaches, a sense of fatigue, dizziness, sore eyes, blurry vision, breathlessness and irregular heart beats.
If any of the above applies to you, now is a good time to get your blood pressure checked and take action based on what you find. Treatment options usually include medication, but the best remedy is a complete lifestyle change that makes a habit of healthy eating.
Can you prevent hypertension?
In a word, yes. Not only can you treat it, you can also prevent it.
What can you do?
First, get your blood pressure checked. Next, it is time for action!
Since I am partial to treatment that involves natural methods, let’s look at the various ways you can use diet and lifestyle changes to control your blood pressure and keep it balanced.
Diet can have a major impact on your blood pressure and following a healthy diet is a great starting point. Eat a balanced diet with small regular meals instead of three huge ones.
- Include variety in your food When you shop, make a list of foods from all food groups. Examples are wholewheat products, brown rice, vegetables and salads, lentils. Get a lot of vegetables and salads on a daily basis. Include as much color through veg and fruit in your diet. Foods like dried beans, chick peas, lentils and soy are low-fat and rich in protein and fiber. Include animal fats if you are a non-vegetarian.
- Cut down on fats Minimize butter and oil and go for foods with essential fats. These include avocados, unsalted nuts, seeds. Learn more about good fats, bad fats.
- Minimize salt Salt is a major cause for high blood pressure. Avoid cooking with salt as much as possible. Instead, use herbs, garlic, lemon juice, pepper, chili, curry powder or ginger as food flavor. Cutting out salt to control hypertension also means avoiding packed foods that are high in salt. Examples are ready to eat products, packaged soups, crisps and snacks, tinned food, and bakery goods! Read: The salt-blood pressure connection
- How about liquids? Drink lots of water every day. You can also dilute fruit juice for variety. Then there is herbal tea. Restrict your coffee and tea intake to two per day. Alcohol – you know what to do. Caffeine and alcohol raise your blood pressure.
- Stop smoking.
- Exercise An active lifestyle builds the foundation for a healthy life. Don’t make excuses to avoid exercise. Even if you can’t set aside time for exercise every day, try and walk as much as possible. Here are some heart healthy exercise tips.
[box] Direct Download: guide to lowering your blood pressure with diet[/box]
So are you wondering – why is hypertension called the silent killer? The truth is, high blood pressure is a condition that can exist without one being aware of it. It is a serious condition that can cause early death. Worse still, it can cause disabilities by being responsible for stroke and heart disease. Untreated hypertension can result in blindness, kidney disease and heart failure, besides putting you at risk for another silent villain, diabetes.
Don’t ignore hypertension. It is like a ticking bomb, literally.
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