Can Sunlight Cure High Blood Pressure?

can sunlight reduce blood pressure?

Sun image from zmescience.com

The short answer is: on its own, no, sunlight cannot cure high blood pressure.

But sunlight can reduce blood pressure because sunshine provides us with vitamin D which helps restore our body’s natural balance. And this includes regulating blood pressure.

If you live up north like me (Wales), it’s the sunlight a few hours either side of noon that you need because that’s when the UVB rays necessary for vitamin D synthesis are best received.

Sunlight also stimulates our skin to produce nitric oxide, which relaxes our blood vessels – so sunshine lowers blood pressure this way too.

So when the sun shines around midday – get out there and expose yourself. It’s good for you!

 

Sunshine and human health

Each day, Apollo’s fiery chariot makes its way across the sky, bringing life-giving light to the planet. For the ancient Greeks and Romans, Apollo was the god of medicine and healing as well as of sun and light—but Apollo could bring sickness as well as cure. Today’s scientists have come to a similarly dichotomous recognition that exposure to the ultraviolet radiation (UVR) in sunlight has both beneficial and deleterious effects on human health.

 

M. Nathaniel Mead, Environmental Health Perspectives, 2008

Humans have probably always worshipped the sun. Long before we got obsessed by the perfect sun tan, humans revered solar gods and goddesses. In Japan the Emperor is still said to be descended from the sun. Our solar focus didn’t wane when we developed science either. In the last century, doctors often sent patients to sanatoriums in warm countries for fresh air and sunshine to cure TB, rheumatic disorders and all kinds of other things.

Obviously, more recently, there’s been concern about the fact that getting too much sun can lead to skin cancer. While this is definitely something to be careful of, by avoiding the sun too much, we’re actually more likely to get other kinds of cancers. This is because if we don’t get enough sun, we’re probably not making enough vitamin D. Studies now show that vitamin D inhibits the growth of abnormal cells. As such, it helps protect us from cancers (such as breast, prostate and colon cancer).

So now, things have come full circle. With our indoor lifestyles and diligent use of sunscreen, we might be making ourselves ill by not getting enough good old sunshine onto our skin.

 

How can sunlight reduce high blood pressure?

Basically, sunshine can reduce high blood pressure because sunshine increases your vitamin D levels and Vitamin D helps reduce blood pressure.

How sunlight triggers the production of vitamin D in your skin

Sunlight is made up of a whole spectrum of different wavelengths of radiation. One particular kind – UVB radiation – triggers a reaction in your skin which uses the energy of sunlight to create vitamin D. Basically, you’re photosynthesising like a plant, although with different chemical processes.

How vitamin D helps reduce blood pressure

Researchers reckon there are a number of ways in which vitamin D helps reduce blood pressure, and have a protective effect on the heart.

Firstly, vitamin D helps lower blood pressure through its effects on the renin-angiotensin system. These are hormones which regulate fluid levels and blood pressure CHECK. INot having enough vitamin D usually results in this system being overactive, putting you more at risk of high blood pressure as well as heart attack and stroke.

Secondly, vitamin D has been found to relax the muscle cells found in the walls of our blood vessels.

Thirdly, your body needs sufficient vitamin D to absorb calcium effectively. As well as being important for healthy bones, calcium interacts with magnesium to lower blood pressure.

Read our article here for more details on Vitamin D and blood pressure

Another way in which sunlight lowers blood pressure

Another kind of radiation present in sunlight – UVA radiation – can also reduce blood pressure. Recent studies show that UVA rays stimulate nitric oxide to be released. Nitric oxide is known to dilate the blood vessels and thus lower blood pressure.

In one study, diastolic blood pressure dropped by 5 mmHg upon UVA exposure, and stayed that low for half an hour afterwards.

 

Evidence for sunlight reducing high blood pressure

It might seem quite hard to believe that something as simple as sunshine can lower blood pressure. However, the evidence is piling up.

For example, researchers at a university in Berlin used special sunbeds to measure the effects of UV radiation on vitamin D levels and blood pressure. People with high blood pressure used the sunbeds for a short period every day for three months. Half the participants used a sunbed which bathed them in full-spectrum UV radiation, similar to summer sunlight. The other half used a sunbed which emitted UVA-only radiation, which is similar to winter sunlight. After three months, the group who’d had the full-spectrum UV light had (on average) an 180% increase in their vitamin D levels and a 6 mm Hg decrease in their blood pressure (systolic and diastolic). The other group, who got UVA only didn’t show any difference in their vitamin D levels or blood pressure.

NOTE: This does not mean that using sunbeds will increase your vitamin D levels! This is because most sunbeds mostly emit UVA radiation, rather than UVB (which is what you need to make vitamin D).

In general, the importance of natural sunlight for our health is gradually being recognised worldwide. The US National Institute of Health (NIH), for example, now recommends getting some exposure to the sun in order to increase vitamin D levels.

 

How to safely get enough sunshine to reduce high blood pressure?

But isn’t it unsafe to get too much sun? Certainly, that’s the message we’ve been getting from health authorities for years now. Sunshine can cause skin cancer at worst, sunburn at best, right? Well, while it’s undoubtedly true that too much sunshine on your skin can have all kinds of damaging effects on your body, it has a lot of benefits too. Some of these benefits are crucial to our health and well-being. For example, sunlight in the eyes and on the skin is essential for maintaining our circadian rhythms effectively.

Sunlight – through vitamin D production – has myriad other positive effects, including supporting the immune system, ensuring healthy bone development, as well as protecting you against high blood pressure and heart disease, some cancers, multiple sclerosis, TB and potentially quite a few other diseases as well.

Oh, and exposure to sunlight (through your skin and through your eyes) can stimulate the production of neurochemicals like serotonin and endorphins, both of which tend to make you feel good. Sunshine makes you happy!

 

A good amount of sunshine

The key to not experiencing the adverse effects of sunshine is to make sure you’re not getting too much.

But how much is too much? It’s a bit tricky because different health authorities and scientists give different recommendations. What’s a safe solar threshold can also be different for each person. And of course, where you are in the world and how strong the sunshine is will make a big difference: at any time of day, you’re less likely to get sunburnt in Scotland than in Senegal (although you can still get sunburnt in Scotland!).

How much vitamin D you can make is also affected by these factors. The paler your skin (not just the skin colour you’re born with but how tanned you are) the more vitamin D you make from the same amount of sunshine.

For most white people, a half-hour in the summer sun in a bathing suit can initiate the release of 50,000 IU (1.25 mg) vitamin D into the circulation within 24 hours of exposure; this same amount of exposure yields 20,000–30,000 IU in tanned individuals and 8,000–10,000 IU in dark-skinned people.

 

M. Nathaniel Mead, Environmental Health Perspectives, 2008

One thing to note is that repeated brief periods of exposure are not only safer but also more efficient at producing vitamin D. And since some sunlight can get through sunscreens, Dermatology professor Barbara A. Gilchrest of Boston University School of Medicine recommends going out in the sun with sunscreen and also taking vitamin D supplements.

A good guideline is to get enough sun to start to give you a very light tan, but without any skin reddening. This is roughly about a quarter of the time it would take for you to start to get sunburned. For many people, this could just be about quarter of an hour in the sun, with as little clothing as possible!

 

The right type of sunshine

In terms of producing vitamin D, it’s crucial that you’re getting the right kind of sunlight. As mentioned above, UVB radiation is what you need to produce vitamin D. But UVB isn’t always present in the sunlight that’s reaching you. UVB can be easily blocked by clouds, fog, smog, and by the ozone layer if the radiation is coming in at a bit of an angle.

So, the higher the latitude you live at, the more acute the angle at which the sun is reaching you. This means less UVB is present in it. The best time to be getting maximum UVB radiation, therefore, is when the sun is highest in the sky at noon. By which I mean, actual astronomical noon. In other words, about 1 pm in summertime if you’re in a country that puts the clocks forward an hour in the spring.

UVB is also partly blocked by glass so it’s not enough to sit by a window. You need to actually get outside.

 

What if you can’t get enough sunlight to reduce high blood pressure?

vitamin D for healthy blood pressureIf you live at higher latitudes, as in most of northern Europe, the northern US and Canada, then it’s unlikely you’re ever getting enough sunshine to make a healthy amount of vitamin D. Especially in the winter.

You’re also not likely to be getting enough vitamin D through your food and drink (unless, like Arctic peoples, you eat a lot of seals).

Vitamin D supplements

So the chances are, you need to take vitamin D supplements, at least in the winter and possibly all year. In Scotland, health authorities now recommend everyone take vitamin D supplements all year.

As to how much you should take, there’s more information on vitamin D levels and supplementation in our other article here: Vitamin D and high blood pressure

You can buy a good quality vitamin D3 supplement online here: Vitamin D3 (CLE Holistic Health)

You can also eat more food which contain vitamin D, such as eggs and fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, herring, trout and kippers. (Personally, I wouldn’t eat too much farmed fish like salmon. Such fish are not only soaked in antibiotics and pesticides but have awful lives crammed into pens while being munched by sea lice.)

 

In conclusion…

The full solar spectrum is essential to optimal health and well-being. Humans are physiologically adapted to produce vitamin D in response to sun exposure, specifically UVB radiation; other regions of the spectrum seem to confer benefit as well. Though some vitamin D comes from our diet (and more recently from supplements), we should not ignore the natural capacity that we possess to produce our own.

 

 

We are of the opinion that moderate sun exposure (less than the time required to burn) to the arms, shoulders, trunk, and legs should be sought rather than avoided. Once that limited time has been achieved, we agree that covering the skin or seeking shade may be appropriate. The benefits of such exposure go beyond production of vitamin D and include other physiological responses to sunlight, still inadequately explored, including release of nitric oxide, production of beta-endorphin, and regulation of circadian rhythms—all important components of lifelong health and well-being.

 

Baggerly et al, Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 2015

Sun is life. Enjoy it while it’s out.
And while it’s not, take vitamin D supplements!

 

Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally for Life

Getting enough sunlight and vitamin D is one step towards managing high blood pressure. However there’s a lot more you can do to lower your blood pressure naturally.

For a start, there’s a large choice of affordable natural ingredients that lower blood pressure. Many of these spices, herbs, berries, fruits, grains, vegetables, meats and drinks are available in local stores.

lower your blood pressure naturallyOf course there are other factors beyond diet (like fitness and stress) that affect your blood pressure. So the best way to lower your blood pressure without drugs is to apply a broader approach.

This might sound daunting, especially if you’re just starting out on this route to better blood pressure. However, most of these changes can be incorporated quite easily into your everyday life.

To make it simple, we’ve put together a complete guide to lowering your blood pressure naturally:

Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally – The Complete 9 Step Guide

The guide is laid out in 9 straightforward steps. Just follow the advice for each step. You can take it a week at a time or a month at a time, whatever suits you. Then you can enjoy knowing that you’re now on your way to lower blood pressure and better health in general.

Not only is the guide easy to follow but it’s also enjoyable to follow, with lots of tasty food and drink suggestions and useful tips on lifestyle changes. Little things that, when combined, can make a big difference.

Lowering your blood pressure naturally doesn’t have to be an endurance test 😉

To download a sample of the guide to your computer right now click here and scroll to the bottom of the page for the download link.

 

Can sunlight reduce blood pressure? Some references

Benefits of Sunlight: A Bright Spot for Human Health (Environmental Health Perspectives) *recommended read! Covers the whole debate (historically and now) about the role of sunlight in human health, including information about sunshine and hypertension.

The Truth about Vitamin D (Web MD)

Sunlight and Vitamin D: Necessary for Public Health (Journal of the American College of Nutrition)

All Scots Advised to Take Vitamin D (BBC News)

Vitamin D and blood pressure (this website)

Sunshine could benefit human health (Edinburgh University news)

 

How to Lower Blood Pressure Naturally :)

How you can lower your blood pressure naturally – starting now

How to lower blood pressure naturally is becoming more important to more people.

lower blood pressure naturallyOf course, there are plenty blood pressure-lowering medications you can take. However, the problem with taking blood pressure drugs is that not only do they have a lot of unpleasant side-effects, but once you start taking them you have to stay on them for life to keep your blood pressure down.

This is because high blood pressure medications don’t actually treat the cause of your high blood pressure, they just dampen the symptoms.

The advantage of lowering blood pressure naturally is that doing so addresses the causes of high blood pressure. This enables you to effectively bring your blood pressure down and keep it down – and without nasty side-effects.

You could say that to lower blood pressure naturally does have some side-effects but these are good ones. Being healthier, fitter, less stressed are side-effects you’re probably happy to have 🙂

So what’s the best way to lower blood pressure naturally?

 

How to lower blood pressure naturally

five causes of high blood pressure and what to do about themTo lower blood pressure naturally, you need to deal with the causes of your high blood pressure. These vary from person to person and there’s some element of genetics involved. However, whether hypertension runs in your family or not, there’s plenty you can do to lower blood pressure naturally.

The three main (non-genetic) causes are: eating and drinking unhealthy things, not being fit and active enough, and experiencing frequent stress.

So to lower blood pressure naturally, you need to deal with these three causes. You can focus on eating and drinking things which help lower blood pressure. You can get more exercise and be more active generally. And you can spend some time relaxing and learning how to lower your stress levels.

Which of these is the best way to lower blood pressure naturally depends on your own individual make-up and lifestyle. You might be quite sure already which of the above factors could be affecting your blood pressure. However, for many of us, our high blood pressure results from a combination of factors.

As such, the best way to lower blood pressure naturally is often to take a broad-based approach and adjust all these aspects of your lifestyle: what you eat and drink, how active you are, and how stressed you are.

For an overview on how to deal with the different causes of high blood pressure, you can click here to get our free report: Five Causes of High Blood Pressure and What to Do About Them

 

How to lower blood pressure naturally: 3 ways to start

To better explain how to lower blood pressure naturally, here are some specific examples to get you started.

1. Diet: eat more ‘real’ unprocessed foods

The main problem with diet for most of us is probably eating too many processed foods. I don’t just mean fast foods and take-out foods but also the plethora of ready-made goods sold in grocery stores and supermarkets.

These foods tend to be full of ingredients which contribute to raising blood pressure. Salt, so-called ‘bad’ cholesterol and trans fats are the ones which get the most bad press. But eating too many starchy foods based on refined grains – white flour etc. – can also cause high blood pressure. And scientists are now discovering that sugar is another serious culprit.

So in terms of how to lower blood pressure naturally through diet, the best thing you can do is stop eating these foods. It’s not just ready-made meals that are best avoided but also simpler ready-made foods. These include pasta sauces, condiments, pastries, cakes, processed meats, breakfast cereals. They often contain added sugar and salt – even the ones that aren’t obviously sweet or salt.

Instead, cook more of your meals from fresh ingredients. Eat plenty vegetables, fatty fish, beans and pulses. Snack on fruits, nuts and seeds. Some dairy is good too (rich in calcium for a start). And don’t worry about it being rich in fat because research is showing that low-fat diets aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.

Start at the beginning

It might sound daunting to change your diet this way but you can start with just one thing at a time – and you can start with your breakfast. Many of us eat breakfast cereals in the morning and we might think they’re healthy, but most of them contain a lot of added sugar.

Instead, have a bowl of oats in the morning. In the winter go for hot steaming porridge (you can add nuts and seeds and fruits and spices) and in summer try a bowl of crunchy muesli (again, make it yourself if you can or look for versions that don’t have added sugar).

The advantage of oats is that they are good for your blood pressure – eating oats can actually lower your cholesterol levels and stabilize your blood sugar levels, as well as keeping you going for a good while.

2. Exercise: go for a walk

There are so many ways you can exercise and be active, but perhaps the simplest is to walk. Not only is walking easy to integrate into your everyday lifestyle (with a bit of imagination), but it’s also suited to all levels of fitness.

Try going for a short walk in the morning – even if just for ten or fifteen minutes. Walk as briskly as is comfortable for you. If you can, do the same again early evening, after your day at work. Walking is not only good for the heart and blood pressure but also helps work out stress and calm the mind.

Exercise releases ‘good mood’ chemicals in your brain so you’ll not only the physical benefits but also benefits for your mind. Which brings us to the third way to lower blood pressure naturally:

 

3. De-stress: do some slow breathing

If you have a high-stress lifestyle – or even if you don’t – it can be really helpful for lowering blood pressure to take some time out every day to focus on relaxing. As with exercise, there are many ways you can learn to relax – yoga and meditation are the classic methods. But even things as simple as listening to music can be relaxing.

One technique that’s becoming increasingly popular is slow breathing. In 2013, the American Heart Association reviewed studies of slow breathing and found that slow breathing can lower your blood pressure literally within minutes. It’s actually the fastest way to lower your blood pressure without medication.

lower blood pressure naturally with slow breathingTo get the most benefit, you really need to breathe slowly for at least fifteen minutes. The studies found that doing slow breathing for fifteen minutes a day could not only lower your blood pressure while you were doing it, but also help lower your blood pressure generally – as long as you keep practising it regularly.

Setting aside quarter of an hour each day to breathe slowly can really help you relax and lower your blood pressure naturally. After all, what’s more natural than breathing?

Many people find it helpful to use audio tracks with timed breathing prompts to breathe along with. You can listen to some samples here and see what you think: slow breathing audio samples

 

How to lower blood pressure naturally – the easy way

Of course there are many more ways you can increase your activity. And many more ways you can reduce your stress levels and learn to relax more deeply. And there are many healthy things you can eat and drink in order to lower your blood pressure naturally.

However, to make it simple, we’ve put together a guide to lowering your blood pressure naturally.

lower your blood pressure naturallyThe guide outlines proven strategies on how to lower your blood pressure and keep it low through easy, effective and enjoyable changes in lifestyle.

The guide is arranged into nine easy to follow steps. These steps are based on the principle that positive incremental change is always best in health matters. Each chapter will take you further along the road of greater vigour and peace of mind (and a healthy blood pressure).

Click on the link below for more information:

Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally  – The Complete 9 Step Guide

 

P.S. This guide shows you how to lower your blood pressure permanently and naturally without side-effects or complications. Follow each step to get your blood pressure back in balance.

Choose between a wide range of delicious foods that reduce your blood pressure. Include a number of mental and physical exercises in your schedule for both relaxation and invigoration.

This is a guide for good healthy living and will be beneficial for all – even if you don’t currently suffer from high blood pressure.

NOTE: You currently get a free set of slow breathing audio tracks with the guide, to help you relax and lower your blood pressure.

To download a sample of the guide to your computer right now click here and scroll to the bottom of the page for the download link.

 

Natural Treatment for Hypertension – Pros and Cons

how to lower blood pressure the easy way

Simon Foster (me)

I advocate natural treatment for hypertension. Why’s that? Well, from my own experience, it’s not only more pleasant but is more effective. It’s also just really satisfying to have taken control of your health. (I am someone for whom self-reliance and independence is very important!). I’ve also enjoyed observing myself becoming healthier and stronger in general.

 

Natural treatment for hypertension – pros

natural treatment for hypertensionTreating hypertension with alternative methods has clear benefits over medication. While hypertension medications do lower your blood pressure, they don’t actually treat the causes of your hypertension. And you’ll quite often experience unpleasant side effects (I certainly did!).

Sure, lowering your blood pressure naturally is not a quick fix for hypertension. But if you start now you will begin to see the results within a matter of weeks. As the months roll by your blood pressure will steadily come down until its within a range you can comfortably live with.

 

Natural treatment for hypertension – cons

But here’s the rub:

After you embark on the road of natural treatment for hypertension there’s no going back to the lifestyle that gave you high blood pressure in the first place. Slip back to a poor diet, no exercise, and stressful living and your blood pressure will probably rise too.

This is especially true if you have hypertension “in the family”, like I do. Having a genetic propensity to high blood pressure means you have to stick to a healthy lifestyle to keep hypertension at bay.

The simple fact is that those of us who are inclined towards developing hypertension can’t be so relaxed about our lifestyle. We have to work at getting our blood pressure down and keeping it down.

But maintaining a healthy low blood pressure lifestyle isn’t such a bad deal. It’s not a joyless life of self-denial. Far from it. It just requires some moderation and common sense.

 

Changing your diet – more enjoyable than you’d think

With regarding dietary changes, at first it may seem a little difficult to change old habits but after a short while you’ll find your taste and desire in food falling in line.

When you know that what you’re eating is actively restoring your health you will find it tastes great too. There must be a psychological component to our sense of taste.

 

Being more active – an upward spiral

The more active you are, the stronger your heart is, and the healthier your circulatory system is. And, ultimately, your blood pressure comes down. Any energetic physical activity (doesn’t have to be “Exercise”) also makes you feel good. (Literally – your body will produce more ‘feel-good’ hormones.) And, while you might be tired afterwards, regular activity increases your general energy levels.

 

Relax – a downward spiral

Stress is a contributor to hypertension for many people. Spending a little time each day specifically relaxing can go a long way to reducing hypertension. Slow breathing exercises are a good way to start, for example. (They’re also the quickest way to reduce hypertension without medication.)

 

Natural treatment for hypertension – get started!

Natural treatment for hypertension can a have a positive affect on your whole life. With a good diet and ample exercise you will begin to feel new energy and optimism. Your whole life will be positively affected – your relationships, your work, your pastimes, your love life.

If you need to learn about what alternate treatments for hypertension may be best for you, you can browse this website. You can also have a look at my book:

Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally – The Complete 9 Step Guide

natural treatment for hypertensionAs the title suggests, it’s a comprehensive guide to natural treatment for hypertension. It covers all the main natural methods of lowering blood pressure – dietary changes, exercise and activity, and stress reduction.

To keep it simple, the guide is laid out in nine easy-to-follow steps. So you can just go through it at your own pace. This approach is based on the principle that positive incremental change is always best in health matters.

I should mention that using natural treatments for hypertension is not an arduous path of self-denial! You can still eat tasty food and enjoy a tipple. And you don’t have to get into lycra and go to the gym or yoga studio. Most of the changes you’ll make are easy and enjoyable.

So get started.

 

Breatheasy Slow Breathing For Lower Blood Pressure

How slow breathing helps to lower blood pressure – and how you can take advantage of it

NOTE: For information on Breatheasy slow breathing and other slow breathing programs available online, just scroll down to the bottom of this post.

breatheasy slow breathing for lower blood pressure

Photo by Tara R on Flickr.com

For aeons, yogis and alternative health practitioners have claimed that learning to control your breathing can have powerful effects on your health and well-being. For a while now, scientists have been researching the effects of controlled breathing on health. And their studies are finding that it can indeed have profound health benefits.

There are different kinds of controlled breathing that you can do. Some involve focusing specifically on breathing with your diaphragm rather than with your upper chest. Others focus on breathing as deeply as possible. And there are myriad specific kinds of yogic breathing techniques and chi kung exercises. You can read more about different breathing techniques in this excellent overview article: Breathing Techniques – A Guide to the Science and Methods (Groomandstyle.com)

However, here, we are looking specifically at slow breathing. With slow breathing, you don’t worry about exactly how you’re breathing, you simply focus on breathing more slowly.

Does slow breathing really lower your blood pressure?

Yes. In fact, slow breathing is actually the quickest way to lower blood pressure without medication.

The American Heart Association did a review of studies of slow breathing and blood pressure in 2013. In it, they noted that breathing slowly for just a few minutes can reduce blood pressure by several points, even more than just sitting quietly and resting.

The studies showed that to get the most benefit from slow breathing, you need to to do it for at least fifteen minutes. This gives your body time to really respond to the slow breathing. You also need to do it regularly.

 

Immediate and long-term benefits of slow breathing for lower blood pressure

So far, there have been no studies looking at the long-term effects of regular slow breathing sessions. However, the early evidence suggests that regular long-term practice of slow breathing can reduce your blood pressure consistently. In other words, the effects will accumulate, rather than wearing off after each session.)

Whatever the long-term effects, there are immediate benefits to getting into a regular habit of doing a period of slow breathing most days. This is because the more you practice slow breathing, the more easily and readily you’ll be able to do it. So when you find yourself in a stressful situation, and you feel your stress levels rise, you can just slow down your breathing immediately. Breathing more slowly will not only keep a lid on your stress levels, and help you keep a clear head, it will also counteract the spike in blood pressure which stress tends to trigger.

Basically, being adept at slow breathing will benefit your blood pressure. Slow breathing will also benefit many other aspects of your health! (Read more here: Health benefits of slow breathing.)

 

How to do slow breathing effectively

Slow breathing is obviously really simple. You just breathe… more… slowly. However, as you might have found if you’ve ever tried to meditate, sometimes the simplest things are the trickiest. And it can actually be surprisingly hard to sustain your concentration to keep your breathing slow and regular.

So what can you do? Well, many of the medical studies done have had participants use a device called “Resperate“. This is a little electronic device which monitors your breathing via a strap you put around your chest, and which plays you musical tones to tell you when to breathe in and out.  Reports so far suggest that it’s easy to use and very helpful, however the downside is that it costs about $300 (about £235 or €280)!

Don’t worry though. There are much cheaper ways to do guided slow breathing! The most popular way is to use guided slow breathing audio tracks. These play you prompts that you can breathe along in time with. So they are an easy and simple way to keep your breathing at a slower-than-usual regular pace. Read on…

 

Slow breathing programs for lower blood pressure

One of the first guided slow breathing programs on the market was Breatheasy slow breathing program, created by David O’Hara.

Breatheasy – Slow Breathing Program

Breatheasy slow breathing exercises by David O’Hara are a set of slow breathing audio tracks which you can breathe along to. I’ve used it myself and found it very effective (click here for my Breatheasy user review).

In the words of the man himself,

A quality slow breathing exercise audio program captures the power of slow breathing in a simple and easy to use audio program available. The difference is music, real music, not computer generated jingles. That makes a slow breathing exercise audio program more effective because slow breathing requires relaxation to be effective. In fact, the more relaxed you are, the greater the benefits.

What’s more, music has its own therapeutic powers. Researchers have recently demonstrated how listening to music can lower our blood pressure.

Even more remarkable is the findings that the benefits of music increase when combined with slow breathing. That’s exactly what a quality slow breathing exercise audio program is – a unique, powerful and effective combination of slow breathing with real music in a simple and use-friendly format.

100% safe and natural.

Using a slow breathing exercise audio program is simple. Just relax to the music, breathe along with the unique guided breathing track, and enjoy. Master the method and use slow breathing with your own music in a countless number of situations.

There is no easier way to acquire a method with a lifetime pay-off.

The problem is that the Breatheasy slow breathing program is no longer available. What now? Well, instead I’ve created my own set of slow breathing audio tracks which you can use for easy slow breathing:  Breathe-Slow audio tracks

There are different tracks for different slow breathing rates (from 10 breaths a minute down to 6 breaths a minute). For each breathing rate, you get four tracks. Three of these tracks have  different relaxing background music. This is because studies have found that listening to music can lower blood pressure.

However, some studies also found that it needs to be music that you personally find relaxing or joyful. For this reason, you also get a fourth track (for eacah breathing rate) which has only the breathing prompts. This enables you to play your own music along with the breathing prompts. Or of course you can just listen to the breathing prompts on their own.
 slow breathing for lower blood pressure

You can listen to a sample of the slow breathing tracks here:

Breathe-Slow audio samples

At the moment, I’m doing a launch special where you can buy all 20 Breathe-Slow audio tracks with my guideLower Your Blood Pressure Naturally – included as a free bonus.

Click here for more details on the guide: Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally – The Complete 9 Step Guide  Or just click on the picture above to listen to the guided slow breathing samples and/or to buy them.

 

How does Breatheasy slow breathing (or any slow breathing exercise) lower blood pressure?

There are various ways in which slow breathing lowers blood pressure. And there may be others, since scientists don’t fully understand all the effects of slow breathing.

You can read more here: How does slow breathing lower blood pressure?

To give a brief summary, slow breathing relaxes our blood vessels and slows our heart rate. Both of these result in immediate decreases in blood pressure. Slow breathing can balance the autonomic nervous system, which controls various unconscious processes in our bodies. Slow breathing also reduces stress, which has knock-on effects for blood pressure, since stress is often linked to high blood pressure.

These are just a few of the ways in which slow breathing lowers blood pressure. However, the main point to take from this post is that slow breathing is one of the simplest and most powerful ways you can lower your blood pressure.

So whether you use guided slow breathing recordings, or the Resperate device, or just sit quietly, relax, and focus on slowing your breathing down, the main thing is to keep doing it. You really can just breathe your way to lower blood pressure. And there’s nothing more natural than that 🙂

 

Breatheasy slow breathing for lower blood pressure – References and more information

Brooks et al (2013). “Beyond Medications and Diet: Alternative Approaches to Lowering Blood Pressure: A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association”. Hypertension

University Health News – Breathing Exercises to Lower Blood Pressure

Harvard Heart Health Blog – Take a Deep Breath

Groomandstyle.com – Breathing Techniques Guide

 

Laughing and Blood Pressure – What’s Going On?

laughing and blood pressureLaughing and blood pressure – it’s a serious subject. Does laughing lower your blood pressure or raise it? This is no laughing matter for those with high blood pressure…

Funnily enough, laughing raises and lowers your blood pressure. Sounds like a bad joke? Read on.

 

What’s the relationship between laughing and blood pressure?

Basically, the relationship between laughing and blood pressure varies depending on how often you’re laughing.

Laughing briefly raises your blood pressure while you’re laughing. But if you laugh regularly – we’re talking deep belly laughs here, not polite chuckles – it can actually lower your blood pressure in general. In other words, regular laughing lowers blood pressure even when you’re not laughing.

Sounds funny? Well, several studies are now demonstrating the mental and physical benefits of laughing. A Japanese study of middle-aged men and women who attended regular sessions of laughter yoga experienced significant reductions in blood pressure. The laughing sessions lowered blood pressure  immediately after a laughter session. And after doing a laughter session weekly for three months, their average blood pressure readings were lower too.

In other words, the effect of regular laughing seemed to persist for some time.

A similar effect was found in stressed Indian information technology-workers, with blood pressure drops of around 6 mm/Hg after just a few weeks of laughter sessions.

 

How does laughter lower blood pressure?

How laughter lowers blood pressure involves a few factors.

Firstly, laughing is excellent stress relief. And since stress is often at least a partial cause of many people’s high blood pressure, this is significant.

When you get stressed, your body release stress hormones like cortisol. Cortisol directly acts on the walls (the lining) of the blood vessels, causing them to contract. And the narrower your blood vessels, the greater the pressure of the blood against the vessel walls. Cortisol also makes the heart beat faster, further raising blood pressure.

So how does laughing lower blood pressure? Well it helps to counteract this physical response to stress.

According to the “Clown Doctors” of Australia’s Humour Foundation,

Laughter reduces the production of stress hormones, not only during the time of laughter but also for some time after. Laughter also works the muscles, leading to an initial rise in blood pressure followed by a more sustained drop. Blood vessels dilate and an increased amount of oxygen enters the circulation due to deeper breathing. The ‘heartier’ the laugh, the better – laughing 15-20 minutes a day is good for heart health.

Even just watching funny videos has been shown to decrease levels of cortisol (a stress hormone), raise endorphin levels (‘feel good hormones’), and improve blood flow in the arteries.

Researchers emphasise that the most benefits come from real hearty belly laughs lasting for a minute or so – a polite chuckle or two isn’t quite enough. Struggling to find enough humour in your daily life though? No worries. Here are some tried-and-tested ways to have a good laugh. Why not get the most out of the beneficial relationship of laughing and blood pressure?!

 

How to laugh more to lower your blood pressure

To start off, Dr Peter Spitzer (aka Dr Fruit-Loop), Medical Director of the Humour Foundation recommends the following ways to laugh more:

• Look for opportunities to introduce humour

• Watch comedy DVDs and shows

• Go to comedy clubs…or form your own

• Listen to comedy and laugh whilst driving

• Spend less time with overly serious people

• Spend more time playing

• Connect with funny people

• Visit toy and magic shops

• When all else fails, don’t take yourself too seriously; just take the opportunity to laugh at yourself and enjoy

• Tell your doctor you’re laughing more these days. 

However, what if you’re finding even these suggestions difficult to follow? Or what if you’re able to find your life gently humorous, but are just needing more of those deep belly laughs.  If this is the case, then laughter yoga may be just the thing.

 

Laughter yoga, laughter therapy and laughter clubs

You’re joking, right? Laughter yoga? Actually it’s no joke. And actually, it turns out you don’t even need to find something funny in order to start laughing.

‘Laughter yoga’ or ‘laughter therapy’ was developed by an Indian doctor, Madan Kataria, and works on the principle that the body can’t differentiate between fake and real laughter.

So if you force yourself to laugh, at some point your body takes over and you start laughing for real. The advantage of this is that you don’t need to feel happy or amused to initiate and benefit from a good belly laugh.

Laughter yoga combines body-triggered laughter with deep breathing, and the social contact of being in a group, to get people laughing deeply for extended periods. As well as being healthy, laughter yoga groups or clubs are a lot of fun.

There are now over six thousand laughter clubs (mostly free) in over sixty countries, proving laughter yoga is not something to be taken lightly…

Click here for some links to find (or start) a laughter club near you (scroll down to the “Have a laugh” section): Laughing resources

 

Beyond laughing and blood pressure – there’s more you can do…

Laughing of course is not the only way to lower your blood pressure, although it’s a damn fine start. By the way, that last link to laughing resources, above, contains information on relaxation techniques too. Whether or not you tend to be stressed or anxious, relaxing more deeply is a powerful aspect of lowering blood pressure.

As well as relaxing, there are a lot of other activities you can do to lower your blood pressure. And there are also many many things you can eat and drink which have beneficial blood pressure-reducing effects.

To find out about all of these, have a look at our book – Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally – The Complete 9 Step Guide

lower your blood pressure naturally with diet, exercise and relaxation - and garlicIt’s a comprehensive and easy-to-follow guide to lowering blood pressure the natural way – i.e., without pharmaceutical medications. (Although if you already take these, natural methods of lowering blood pressure can help you lower your blood pressure further.)

Each step leads you through a different set of things you can do to lower your blood pressure. You can just take each step at your own pace – one a week or one a month or more. And gradually bring your blood pressure down and keep it down.

This doesn’t have to involve undue suffering either. It’s not about denial but about introducing good foods, drinks, and enjoyable activities into your life, which will improve your general health and well-being too. You can still drink alcohol and you can eat more dark chocolate.

Click on the picture for more information and/or to buy. You’ll also get a set of audio tracks for guided slow breathing included (slow breathing is actually the quickest way to lower blood pressure without medications)!

 

 

Laughing and blood pressure – references and more information

The Humour Foundation – Laughter Lowers Blood Pressure: https://www.humourfoundation.com.au/resources/seriously-funny-medicine/62-laughter-lowers-blood-pressure.html

Music and laughter and blood pressure – University of Maryland study:
https://umm.edu/news-and-events/news-releases/2008/joyful-music-may-promote-heart-health

Music and laughter and blood pressure – University of Osaka study:
https://www.webmd.com/hypertension-high-blood-pressure/news/20110325/music-and-laughter-may-help-lower-blood-pressure

Laughter and memory: https://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/health/laughter-can-improve-short-term-memory/

Health benefits of laughing – Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/laughing-may-help-ease-blood-pressure-boost-mood-and-enrich-health-in-other-ways/2011/10/18/gIQAq8Y5CM_story.html

Laughing and pain thresholds: https://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/early/2011/09/19/rspb.2011.1373

Effects of watching comedy videos versus depressing documentaries: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/151941.php

Sugar and High Blood Pressure

sugar and high blood pressureYou might have seen the headlines in the papers a week or so ago: “quickest way to lower blood pressure”, shouts the Daily Express (UK) and so on.

So what’s the secret? Well, it’s simple. It’s sugar.

Or rather it’s avoiding sugar that’s key to lowering your blood pressure – at least if you’re getting too much sugar which most of us are.

 

Sugar and high blood pressure: the evidence

Since when has there been a link between sugar and high blood pressure? you might ask. Surely salt’s the one to cut down on. Well, many studies are now showing that sugar is far worse for your blood pressure – and pretty much every other aspect of your health – than salt. Which is not to say don’t be careful with salt but be very very careful with sugar.

Easier said than done though, but we’ll come to that shortly. First of all, what’s the evidence relating to sugar and high blood pressure?

The study that recent newspaper headlines (including the one picture above) have been reporting was conducted in San Francisco on obese children. 43 obese kids with high blood pressure were put on a different diet which contained much less sugar but the same amount overall of calories, fat, protein, and carbohydrates (sugar was replaced with starch products).

The researchers found that the kids’ blood pressure dropped, their weight dropped, their cholesterol levels dropped, their blood sugar levels dropped; in fact all kinds of unhealthy ‘levels’ fell – in just nine days – !

This is quite stunning stuff. Not only for the size of the results (blood pressure dropped on average by 5 points, comparable with the effects of blood pressure medications) but for the speed at which they occurred; and for the fact that this proves that it’s the reduction in sugar itself which was responsible.

 

Why is there a link between sugar and high blood pressure?

Up until now, we’ve tended to think that sugar can be bad for our health and blood pressure because it’s high-calorie and therefore can lead to weight gain, which is known to be bad for blood pressure.

However, scientists have lately been unpicking the effects of sugar and discovering that sugar is the problem directly – not indirectly via weight gain.

““This study definitively shows that sugar is metabolically harmful not because of its calories or its effects on weight; rather sugar is metabolically harmful because it’s sugar,” said lead author Robert Lustig, MD, at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital San Francisco.

It’s not just that one study though. Many studies have now found a significant association between sugar and high blood pressure – the more sugar you have, the higher your blood pressure.

Scientists now think that sugar can cause an increase in heart rate and blood vessel constriction, increasing blood pressure. Too much sugar in your system also leads to a condition called ‘insulin resistance’ which – through various processes – increases blood pressure (and which often also develops into type 2 diabetes).

Recent research also indicates that high sugar consumption does more to increase bad cholesterol levels (and reduce good cholesterol) than saturated fats! So there are many, many reasons to seriously reduce the amount of sugar you’re getting.

 

How to reduce sugar and high blood pressure

hidden sugar and high blood pressureSo what to do about it? You don’t have to cut out sugar completely.  As with salt, this is an issue of scale and amount. Our bodies need some sugar – our cells basically run on it – but almost all of us are getting too much, more than our bodies can healthily process.

The reason is that most of the sugar most of us consume is ‘hidden’ – added as a preservative or flavour enhancer to almost all the processed food we buy, which means we’re eating and drinking far more sugar than we realise.

Even if you don’t actually eat a lot of sweet things you might be surprised by how much sugar your diet contains.

Even so-called healthy products may contain added sugar, e.g., some yoghurts, most breakfast cereals, many sauces and dressings.

Added sugar is also often found in low-fat products, for example, low-fat mayonnaise usually contains hefty amounts of added sugar.

(The healthiness of a low-fat diet is in doubt now anyway – see this post for details – but what’s now very clear is that it’s far more important to reduce sugar than to reduce fat.)

As a result, it’s not so much the sugar you might add to your tea or coffee that’s bumping up your sugar intake – although you’d be wise to cut that down – but the sugar you’re getting without realising.

Coincidentally, it’s also these added sugars which are the worst for you, such as added fructose (including ‘high fructose corn syrup’). Natural sugars, such as those found in fruit, don’t have nearly such bad effects.

 

Tips on cutting down on sugar

First of all, if you’re finding it hard to eat less sugar-containing foods, don’t give up. Studies show that whatever reductions you make will make a difference to your blood pressure and your health in general.

And don’t give yourself a hard time either. Sugar has been found to be more addictive than cocaine in rats and probably in humans too (watch out for those white crystals!) so it’s okay if you need to ‘come off it’ gradually.

To avoid sugar in processed food, you have to read the labels, and even then it’s not always easy to spot added sugar as it goes by many different names. One clue is that many of them end in ‘ose’ (glucose, fructose, sucrose, maltose, etc.), and anything calling itself ‘syrup’ is sugar.

However, the simplest way is to eat less processed food altogether and make more of your meals from scratch with fresh ingredients as far as possible.

Think about what you drink too. One thing you should absolutely avoid is soft drinks and sodas – they contain huge amounts of the worst added sugar of all and are exceptionally bad for your blood pressure and general health.

Don’t bother with ‘low-sugar’ / ‘no-sugar’ substitutes either as many of these are really bad for you (aspartame is linked with cancer, for example). Instead, if you really need some sweetness, go for naturally sweet foods – honey, maple syrup, blackstrap molasses, fruit and dried fruit. They contain other nutrients which balance the effects of the sugar so are less harmful.

 

One other thing – exercise

One other thing to keep in mind is that getting too much sugar is not just an issue of diet, It’s also an issue of lifestyle because, however much sugar we eat, if we’re not exercising enough to use it up effectively then it’s still ‘too much’ for our body.

Exercise is hugely beneficial for lowering blood pressure anyway – so do yourself a favour and get moving more.

 

Sugar and high blood pressure: conclusion

There’s a lot more I could say about sugar and high blood pressure, including a lot more tips on how to reduce the amount of added sugars you’re getting and how to make your favourite foods and drinks with less sugar.

If you want to know more, then have a look at our book: Lowering Your Blood Pressure Naturally – The Complete 9 Step Guide.

lower your blood pressure naturallyIt is – as the title suggests – a nine-step guide to lowering your blood pressure naturally. Each step looks at different aspects of your lifestyle: what you eat and drink, how active you are, and your habits and tendencies to do with stress and relaxation.

Step 8 looks in detail at sugar and high blood pressure. However, there are many things you can do to help lower your blood pressure without resorting to blood pressure-lowering medications.

For example, there are different ways you can exercise without ever going to a gym or aerobics class, there are different ways you can change your daily routine to make your life more relaxing and less stressed, and there are a huge variety of good, tasty foods and drinks you can indulge in for super health benefits.

Lowering your blood pressure doesn’t have to be about denial. It can be about genuinely improving your life to better suit you, and our step-by-step guide enjoyably leads you through the process.

Click here for more details (and for a free sample chapter): Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally.

 

Post by Alison.

Image credits: Mike Mozart, Steve Rotman, tomates and friends, Tharrin, yaybiscuits123 on Flickr.com

Some references:

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/lifestyle/wellbeing/diet/9160114/The-bitter-truth-about-sugar.html
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/286795.php
https://www.express.co.uk/life-style/health/615097/sugar-calories-research-health
https://www.ucsf.edu/news/2015/10/136676/obese-childrens-health-rapidly-improves-sugar-reduction-unrelated-calories
https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/02/25/sugar-blood-pressure.aspx

Keeping blood pressure down

how to lower blood pressure the easy way

Simon Foster

It’s been over two years now since my battle with high blood pressure  and keeping blood pressure down began and I started this blog – both to help myself and others who are in the same boat.

Here are some reflections two years on:

 

The main cause of hypertension is modern life.

Life in the 21st century leads to high blood pressure by a number of means.

  • First of there is increasing stress levels that come with increasing levels of personal debt. There are far fewer home owners (people without a mortgage) than there ever was in the previous century. Debt, increased competition, less opportunity, struggling finances, etc., all equal greater stress levels which result in hypertension and poorer all-round health.
  • The increasing dominance of the car and other ‘labour-saving’ devices result in us moving our bodies less and less. We are starving for exercise. As our muscles, lungs, and heart get neglected our ability to keep our cardiovascular system in good health decreases. Result: weaker heart working harder to pump blood around constricted blood vessels.
  • The food industry is not helping us either. Processed foods containing large doses of hidden salt, sugar and fat clog our veins, reduce our overall health, and jack up our blood pressure.

So what’s the solution to the ailments caused by modern life, and to keeping blood pressure down? Buck the trend. Live within your means and try to eliminate those nagging credit card bills and the stress that come with them. Learn to relax. Try meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, whatever interests you. Leave the car keys at home and take a walk to the store the next time. Buy wholesome basic foods and rediscover the joys of home cooking.

Sure, these solutions may seem rather flippant and may not apply to everyone reading this but I’m sure you get the gist. Reducing high blood pressure and keeping blood pressure down is really a matter of making changes to your life style – taking back control of your life.

 

Keeping blood pressure down is a long-term commitment

If you make the necessary changes your blood pressure will come down over time – without the need of taking a daily dose of hypertension medications (and dealing with the many negative side effects that come with these pills).

But the catch is it’s not a ‘do-it-once’ solution. Keeping blood pressure down requires a change in lifestyle and that change has to be permanent. No going back to sitting on the couch all day eating junk food worrying about the next credit card bill.

The shift to a more healthy lifestyle must be a permanent one if you want to see your blood pressure levels come down to an acceptable range and stay there. The good news is that once you move to a healthier lifestyle not only will your blood pressure improve but so will your general outlook on life. You’ll feel in a better mood generally. Living is simple better and more enjoyable when you are healthier.

So what gives me the authority to make such sweeping statements? In one word – experience. Two years ago I was suffering dangerously high blood pressure with a reading of 190+ systolic and 120+ diastolic.

After a year of switching to a healthier lifestyle without the use of high blood pressure medication, my reading came down to a 135 / 90 level. A little highr than the ideal of 120/80 but within an acceptable range and well out of the danger range. This year my readings regularly go a little below the ideal such as the 115/75 region.

I never would have believed two years ago that I could be keeping my blood pressure down like this. And I didn’t try too hard – just switched to a healthier diet and dusted off my bicycle. I also take supplements every day – Vitamin C, and multi-vitamin, and calcium/magnesium. If you stick to it, blood pressure will drop and your health will increase.

That’s what has worked for me, my solution to keeping blood pressure down and I’m confident it will work for you too.

 

UPDATE 2015: If you think you need a bit extra help though, then look over the book I’ve recently produced: Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally – The Complete 9 Step Guide.

As the title says, it’s a full and comprehensive guide to lowering your blood pressure by making changes in your diet, your activity levels and by reducing your stress levels – and doing so so in a way that’s actually enjoyable.

lower your blood pressure naturallyThere are lots of tasty ideas for good things to eat and drink, helpful hints on upping your activity levels in your day to day life, without ever having to go to a gym, and pleasant ways to lower your stress levels and re-learn how to really relax again.

As I said above, I’ve found that the key to lowering and keeping blood pressure down, is to be consistent, and to make changes slowly but surely.

As such, the guide is organized into 9 easy-to-follow steps, which you can progress though at your own pace. This way, you can focus on one thing at a time, all the while knowing that you’re gradually creating an overall healthier life for yourself – and your blood pressure.

Just click on the picture for more details – and to download a free sample. And enjoy!

 

Hidden salt and high blood pressure

We hear a lot about how getting too much salt (or sodium) will increase your blood pressure. In response a lot of people will sprinkle less salt on their meals or stop using salt altogether. Yet the high blood pressure remains. Why?

hidden salt and high blood pressure

Is salt really responsible for high blood pressure?

Firstly, there’s some question over whether salt consumption really is directly related to high blood pressure. A lot of studies have shown an association between consuming more salt and having higher blood pressure. However, quite a few studies have not found this association. Similarly, studies into salt intake and heart disease give very mixed results. So whether getting excessive salt is a clear cause of high blood pressure (and related problems like heart disease) is more controversial than it might appear.

See the references at the bottom of this page if you want to read more about this issue.

 

Multiple causes of high blood pressure

Secondly, it’s important to point out that high blood pressure has a lot of causes such as stress, genetics, high cholesterol, genetics, etc. If too much salt is the main cause of your hypertension then cutting down on salt should lower your blood pressure. But for many of us it’s simply not enough. We need to incorporate a range of healthy measures into our daily lives.

It’s also worth pointing out that salt affects people and their blood pressure differently. Some people display a high ‘sodium intolerance’ which means that their bodies can not tolerate the same salt levels as others without developing negative symptoms such as elevated blood pressure. However, the majority of us do not suffer from sodium intolerance – but that’s not the same thing as saying we can consume all the salt we want with no ill effects. Moderation is always the key when it comes to salt.

 

How much salt is safe?

The recommended intake of sodium a day per adult is below 2.3 grams – although 1.5 or less grams is considered safer. By the way, there is approximately 2.3 grams of sodium in 1 teaspoon of table salt.

However, probably very few of us sprinkle more than this a day on our meals with a salt shaker. I would suspect that very few of us would even reach 1 gram a day with the shaker. Even 1 gram is a lot of shaking.

 

Hidden salt and high blood pressure

We overdose on salt not with the shaker but with the salt content hidden in a lot of food we buy. There’s a strong link between hidden salt and high blood pressure. I’m not just talking about fast food, restaurant food, or highly processed ‘treats’ like crisps / chips. Take your everyday white sliced bread for example. On average there is 0.17 grams of sodium in each slice (that’s about 12% of the 1.5 grams already). Have a few slices, with salted butter and a preserve and you are soon exceeding your daily recommended salt intake – without ever touching the salt shaker.

Many breakfast cereals are also another high salt food meal that we normally would consider healthy. So what’s one to do?

 

How to avoid hidden salt – and high blood pressure

First, shop for food wisely and don’t buy heavily processed foods that contain a lot of sodium, or other unhealthy ingredients (foods high in added sugar also raise your blood pressure). Most importantly, go back to basics and prepare more meals yourself from simple unprocessed food. For example, you could easily learn to bake bread and control the amount salt, if any, you care to put in. Or have a tasty bowl of oats for breakfast instead of a ready-made breakfast cereal.

Get your salt and potassium levels back in balance

Another thing you can do is make sure to be eating plenty foods that are rich in potassium. Potassium acts as a balancer to sodium, and there’s good evidence that having the correct ratio of potassium and
sodium is more important than the levels of these minerals separately. As such, getting enough potassium is as least as important for healthy blood pressure as reducing salt, if not more so.

If you get into cooking more of your meals yourself, then you’ll naturally be getting more potassium and less salt anyway. This is because many natural whole foods are rich in potassium, such as fruits and vegetables, nuts, pulses, unprocessed meats and some fish. They’re also naturally low in salt. On the other hand, highly processed foods are not only often high in added salt but are usually low in potassium. So eating more self-prepared natural foods is a win-win situation.

All salt is not created equal

sea salt and high blood pressureIf you do this you can get out the old salt shaker and start using it again. After all it’s good to have some salt in your diet. If you lived solely on a diet of fresh food prepared yourself, without adding any salt, you could actually suffer salt deprivation.

Personally I like salt, good salt that is, genuine harvested sea salt from the shores of Brittany – Sel de Guerande. Unlike the bleached chemical sodium available in stores, genuine sea salt is a light grayish color, full of all the trace elements and nutrients from the sea. It cost more (around $14 for a 1,000 grams) but a kilogram should last for many years.

This kind of natural salt (natural rock salt is also a good option) is far more nutritious than regular table salt. Regular table salt is actually highly processed – firstly it’s stripped of its natural trace elements and minerals, and then it’s mixed with various chemicals (including bleaching agents) to make it bright white and easy to pour. It’s also dried at extremely high temperatures and this also alters the chemical structure of the salt, and not in a good way. The salt added to take-out foods and ready-made foods is also highly processed.

This modern salt doesn’t bear much resemblance to naturally harvested salt. And what’s interesting is that we (in Western societies) used to consume far more salt – in previous centuries when salt was widely used to preserve food. Since refrigeration became common in the 1930s and 1940s, salt has been used much less and salt consumption has fallen. Yet in this time health problems like high blood pressure and heart disease have risen. Is it because of the rise in processed foods with their hidden processed salts?

So there you have it. Don’t be a victim of overconsumption of hidden salt in common foods. It’s easy to stop being a victim of hidden salt and high blood pressure. Choose low salt varieties or prepare food yourself. You’ll then be able to enjoy salt on your food again in much smaller and healthier quantities.

Look for Sel de Guerande in your local health food shops, or you can buy it from Amazon online.

Sel de Guerande – Amazon.com

Sel de Guerande – Amazon.co.uk

 

Lower your blood pressure naturally

To find out more about how to get a healthier balance of salt and potassium in your diet, have a look at our guide to lowering your blood pressure naturally. It contains lots of tips on how to gradually and painlessly move to eating (and drinking) more healthily, and reducing your blood pressure in the process.

Of course there are other factors beyond diet (like fitness and stress) that affect your blood pressure. So the best way to lower your blood pressure without drugs is to apply a broader approach – covering all causes and cures with natural home-based remedies.

lower your blood pressure naturallyThe guide contains simple and proven strategies for lowering your blood pressure and keeping it low through easy, effective and enjoyable changes in lifestyle.

These progressive steps are based on the principle that positive incremental change is always best in health matters.

Each chapter will take you further along the road of greater vigour and peace of mind (and a healthy blood pressure).

Click on the link below for more information:

Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally Guide

 

P.S. This guide shows you how to lower your blood pressure permanently and naturally without side-effects or complications.

Follow each step to get your blood pressure back in balance.

Choose between a wide range of delicious foods that reduce your blood pressure. Include a number of mental and physical exercises in your schedule for both relaxation and invigoration.

Following this guide will reduce, and in time, eliminate your need for blood pressure lowering medications.

This is a guide for good healthy living and will be beneficial for all – even if you don’t currently suffer from high blood pressure.

To download a sample of the guide to your computer right now click here and scroll to the bottom of the page for the download link.

 

Hidden salt and high blood pressure: some references

Overview of clinical studies into salt and health:
It’s time to end the war on salt (Scientific American)
Debunking the salt myth (Mercola.com)
What America can learn from the UK’s massive sodium experiment (The Washington Post)

On health effects of different kinds of salt:
Is salt really the villain it’s been made out to be? (Mercola.com)

And our own articles (on this website):

Hidden salt and high blood pressure
Salt and high blood pressure – dispelling the myth
Good salt, bad salt

 

 

Fastest Way to Reduce Blood Pressure Naturally

I started off looking for the fastest way to reduce blood pressure naturally

fastest way to lower blood pressure naturallyWhen I was first diagnosed with high blood pressure (175/110) I realized I had to make some changes.

I had read somewhere that garlic was helpful to lower blood pressure and too much salt raised it.

So I reduced my salt consumption and ate garlic everyday hoping that would fix it.

It didn’t. My blood pressure remained high and later on went up to 190+.

You see, we all want a simple, quick fix to our problems and of course we want to find the fastest way to reduce blood pressure naturally.

But the fact is that when it comes to high blood pressure it’s not quite so straightforward.

Well, that’s not quite true. There is one very simple way to lower your blood pressure within minutes. And that’s to breathe more slowly.

 

The fastest way to reduce blood pressure naturally is slow breathing

Yes, slow breathing has been shown to lower blood pressure rapidly. This is particularly relevant if you’re in a stressful situation, as when we’re stressed we tend to breathe more rapidly. And our heart rate and blood pressure rise. So taking a few slower breaths can not only help clear your head but also reduce your blood pressure and heart rate.

However, breathing more slowly can reduce your blood pressure even if you’re not stressed. To really get the full effects, studies have shown that you need to breathe slowly for at least ten to fifteen minutes.

Early evidence also suggests that doing periods of slow breathing regularly can reduce blood pressure in the long-run too. In other words, the effects can potentially be lasting.

You can read more about how slow breathing is the fastest way to reduce blood pressure naturally in this article on our sister website here: Quickest way to lower blood pressure without medication

 

But aren’t medications the fastest way to reduce blood pressure naturally?

3 exercises to lower blood pressure without having to get out of your chair - free reportMany of us assume that the fastest way to reduce blood pressure is to take medications. However, if you think prescription medication is the simple fix for high blood pressure, think again. The pharmaceutical industry has yet to produce a drug that actually cures high blood pressure.

Sure, there are pills that can lower your blood pressure – if you continue to take them day after day. But it’s not a real cure because your blood pressure will shoot back up if you stop taking them regularly. Add to that all the unpleasant side effects many of us suffer from taking these drugs and you can see why methods of lowering your blood pressure naturally are better.

Additionally, when you consider the statistic that more people die of heart disease while on anti-hypertension medications than those who aren’t on them, you realise that these medications don’t offer the protection that we might have hoped for.

For more easy exercises you can do to lower your blood pressure, click here to download our free report: 3 Exercises to lower blood pressure without having to get out of your chair.

 

Reduce blood pressure naturally and permanently

The effects of slow breathing are powerful but they wear off, unless you have been practicing it regularly for a while. Even then, if your blood pressure is seriously high, you are likely to need to support this with other measures in order to get your blood pressure down to a healthy range.

If you have high blood pressure and want to lower it without medications (or make a gradual shift from medications to natural cures), here’s the skinny: you have to move to a healthier diet and complement it with exercises.

Simply reducing salt consumption and eating a clove of garlic a day won’t cut it.

Yes, I know, superfoods are all the rage in the media, but no food is that super alone.

reduce blood pressure naturally with cayenne pepper

Can cayenne reduce blood pressure?

For example, I was asked the other day,  “Does cayenne pepper reduce blood pressure?”  Yes, cayenne has been shown to be beneficial to your heart and circulatory system. And yes, cayenne can help reduce your blood pressure. But no, simply taking a dose of cayenne everyday probably isn’t going to be the answer to your blood pressure problems.

The same could be said for other beneficial foods such as garlic, celery, oatmeal, bananas, apples, tomatoes, onions, dark chocolate, you-name-it. All these foods can assist in reducing your blood pressure and getting your body back in balance. But they can’t do it by themselves.

Superfoods are not enough

Mind you, I’m talking about seriously high blood pressure here. Sure, any one of these foods eaten daily might help reduce your blood pressure a few points. But is that going to be much consolation to someone banging in at 175+ systolic?

But don’t despair.  Reducing your blood pressure naturally isn’t rocket science. Anyone can do it.

And no, you’re not going to have to give up everything pleasurable in life and live like a monk.

The truth is, once you start shifting to a healthy blood pressure lifestyle you’ll find yourself enjoying life more, not less. Remember, good health is the underpinning of real  happiness and pleasure.

In a nutshell, you can lower your blood pressure naturally by:

  • lowering your stress levels through meditation, yoga, slow breathing exercises (I prefer to use slow breathing exercises myself)
  • getting your heart beating and blood flowing through physical exercise such as walking, jogging, sking, etc. (I climb the hill behind my house regularly).
  • eating less bad foods such as table salt, processed foods containing trans-fats, etc.
  • eating more good foods such as vegetables, olive oil, nuts and seeds, fruit, etc.

Using these techniques together I have managed to lower my blood pressure of 195 / 120 range in March 2009 to often under 120 / 80  in the course of 4 to 5 months.

 

How to lower your blood pressure naturally

I’ve now put together a guide to lowering your blood pressure naturally which shows you exactly how to accomplish this drop in blood pressure without becoming a slave to medications.

As I mentioned above, there can be several factors involved in high blood pressure. So the best way to lower your blood pressure without drugs is to apply a broad approach – covering all causes and cures with natural home-based remedies.

fastest way to reduce blood pressure naturallyThe guide contains simple and proven strategies to lowering your blood pressure and keep it low through easy, effective and enjoyable changes in lifestyle.

It’s laid out in nine easy-to-follow steps which you can take at your own pace. Each chapter will take you further along the road of greater vigour and peace of mind (and a healthy blood pressure).

Click on the link below for more information:

Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally – The Complete 9 Step Guide

With the guide, you also get a set of guided slow breathing audio tracks. These are tracks with breathing prompts and background music which you can breathe along with. Remember, slow breathing is the fastest way to reduce blood pressure naturally. And doing guided slow breathing helps you to do it most effectively and for maximum benefit 🙂

I hope you find the guide and the slow breathing trracks helpful. This approach has certainly worked for me!

Simon

 

(PS. Cayenne photo by Maja Dumat via flickr.com)

 

Hawthorn for lowering blood pressure

Hawthorn for high blood pressure

Hawthorn for lowering blood pressure has become increasingly popular lately and for good reason – it works. But using Hawthorn for high blood pressure is no fad. It’s been a well-trusted cure for hundreds of years.

Hawthorn trees and Hawthorn tincture

Hawthorn for lowering blood pressure

Welsh Mountain Hawthorn

Hawthorn is one of the three sacred trees of the Irish and has always played a big role in Celtic folklore. As a symbol of protection a cutting was placed on doorways to ward off evil. Ribbons were also placed on the tree as decorations on May Day.

Although Hawthorn don’t grow very large they are tough and can live for up to 400 years. Today the Hawthorn is found clinging onto the mountainsides here in Wales and is often used as a hedgerow shrub.

 

Hawthorn for lowering blood pressure

hawthorn-for-lower-blood-pressure-diyThe hawthorn berry has long been regarded as a ‘heart herb’. Tinctures and teas made from it has been used to relieve stress and strengthen the heart by the Druids.

Modern science backs these beliefs. Hawthorn has a mixture of phenols that strengthen the heart, lower cholesterol, reduce resistance in arteries, and lower blood pressure. It acts as a vasodilator – helping the arteries to relax and widen and let the blood flow more smoothly with less pressure.

One Iranian study showed a significant decrease in blood pressure over a three month period of using Hawthorn. The effects of Hawthorn build up over time if taken regularly. Hawthorn’s cardio-protective effect actually gets stronger over time.

 

Supplements containing hawthorn

If you want to use hawthorn for lowering blood pressure but don’t have access to hawthorn trees, or just prefer to take hawthorn in a pre-made preparation, you can buy supplements containing hawthorn.

You can get supplements containing only hawthorn extract, or you can get supplements with other blood pressure-lowering ingredients too, such as Alistrol. More details:

Hawthorn tablets:

Some natural health practitioners recommend  hawthorn supplements of 100-250mg, taken three times a day. Some also recommend that hawthorn supplements contain at least 10% procyanidins (a key group of antioxidants).

Nature’s Way make ‘Heart Care’ tablets with 80mg hawthorn extract from the leaf and flower and lots of procyanidins:

Nature’s Way Hawthorn extract tablets (Amazon.com)

Nature’s Way Hawthorn extract tablets (Amazon.co.uk)
Alistrol review - hawthorn for lowering blood pressure

Alistrol – blood pressure lowering supplement with hawthorn:

Alistrol is a natural supplement specifically designed to help lower blood pressure. As well as hawthorn it contains garlic, holly leaf and daikon seed – all known to have blood pressure-lowering properties.

You can read more about Alistrol in our article here: Alistrol review (this article also has links to buy Alistrol)

 

Do-it-yourself hawthorn for lower blood pressure

Hawthorn (using the berries and flowers) can be taken as a tea or a tincture. I take it every morning – 25 to 30 drops of tincture in a glass of water. You can buy Hawthorn tincture at most good health food shops. Or you can make your own:

To make Hawthorn tincture pick the flowers in the May/early June and/or the berries in late September/October. Place the berries and/or flowers in a jar and fill the jar with a spirit of 50% to 60% volume alcohol.

Strong vodka is usually recommended but I have used moonshine with good results. Leave the mixture for 2 – 4 weeks out of direct sunlight. Then strain it and dispose of the solid stuff. Store the tincture in small dark bottles with a dropper for easy access and use.

Take 25 – 30 drops of Hawthorn tincture up to three times daily for cumulative and beneficial results and lower blood pressure.

If you have enough tincture left over from the year before, you can use it to extract the goodness from another picking of Hawtorn flowers and/or berries.

Consider Hawthorn a powerful ally in your quest for lowering blood pressure and restoring good health. Taken with a health diet and ample exercise and you should see your blood pressure come start to come down in no time at all.

Personally I prefer using just the Hawthorn berries to make the tincture as they are simpler to pick and use. It’s also easy to see when the mixture is ready to be strained. When the dark red berries have turned white, the heart tonic phenols are in the liquid, not the berry and it’s time to separate the two into tincture and compost.

Avoid leaving the berries too long in the alcohol. If you leave it too long (over 3 or 4 months) it will just turn into a mushy jelly unsuitable for use.

P.S. If you do make your own hawthorn tincture, don’t eat the berries while you’re picking as their seeds contain a substance which is turned into cyanide in the stomach….! If you really want to try the berries, make sure to spit out the seeds.

 

NOTE: Hawthorn can interact with some medications

Hawthorn is known to interact with some blood pressure and heart medications (including beta-blockers, calcium channel-blockers and digoxin). So talk to your doctor before starting to take hawthorn if you’re on prescription medications.

 

More herbs, foods, drinks, exercises, tips for lowering blood pressure

By the way, if you need to lower your blood pressure starting today, and want to accomplish it without taking medications it’s not as hard as you may think.

lower your blood pressure naturally with diet, exercise and relaxation - and garlicYou can just follow the 9 steps in our new guide to get back to healthy blood pressure the way nature intended it.

Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally is a comprehensive guide to the many things you can do to lower your blood pressure, such as changing some of what you eat and drink, being more active, and learning to relax more deeply and deal with stress better.

The guide is laid out in a step-by-step format which you can take at your own pace, so that it’s easy to follow, fun to read – and it works.

Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally also includes the Breathe-Slow slow breathing program. Slow breathing has been proven to be the fastest way to lower blood pressure, although to keep up the effects you need to do it regularly. Breathing slowly for fifteen minutes or so is simple but tends to be one of these things that’s easier said than done… So the Breathe-Slow audio tracks guide you through it for maximum blood pressure-lowering effects.

I would personally endorse the Breathe-Slow program too. I do a 15 minute slow breathing exercise most nights before bed. It’s very relaxing and even in the span of 15 minutes my blood pressure will drop 10 points or more.

Click here for more details: Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally and Breath-Slow audio tracks

 

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