The Best Natural Ways To Lower Your Blood Pressure
It’s well established by now that the main causes of high blood pressure – in terms of lifestyle, that is – are diet, fitness, and stress. In other words, if you’re eating and drinking the ‘wrong’ things, not being active enough, and being over-stressed, then you’re more likely to develop high blood pressure. And if you already have high blood pressure, then all these things are probably making it worse – or at least, not helping your blood pressure levels.
So it follow that the best natural ways to lower your blood pressure are to change what you eat and drink, your activity levels and your stress levels.
Easier said than done, right? Well, yes. However, using the best natural ways to lower your blood pressure doesn’t have to be an uphill struggle. Depending on your lifestyle just now, you may only have to adjust a few things to see effects on your blood pressure. Or you may have to change your day-to-day life quite dramatically.
Even in the latter case though, you can still take it gradually and make small alterations bit by bit. That’s usually the best way to change anything anyway – not only are you more likely to stick with a different way of doing things if you do it gradually, but it’s also easier for your body (and your brain!) to get used to the change.
The best natural ways to lower your blood pressure 1: eat and drink well
First of all, let’s look at what you eat and drink. One of the best natural ways to lower your blood pressure is to stop – or drastically reduce – the amount of processed foods and drinks you eat. That doesn’t just mean ready-made microwave meals and soft drinks but anything that’s processed – pastries, pies, cakes, breads, breakfast cereals, pasta sauces, condiments and salad dressings, even many canned foods.
Before you start to panic, that doesn’t mean you can’t eat pies, breads, pasta sauce etc, but simply that you’re better to make them yourself, or look for versions that contain very few and very simple ingredients.
The main ingredients you’re trying to avoid are added sugar and added salt. Salt is easier to spot on food labels – salt or sodium (or MSG, monosodium glutamate – terrible for blood pressure).
However, avoiding added sugar is equally if not more important than watching out for salt. Most people know by now that too much salt is likely to raise your blood pressure. However, it’s not such common knowledge that too much sugar will do the same. And what counts as too much sugar is not much!
Added sugars are the problem here (natural sugars such as those in fruit don’t affect your blood pressure in the same way). However, it can be hard to know whether a processed food contains added sugar as it goes by many different names, e.g., cane juice, corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, high fructose corn syrup, glucose, maltose, malt syrup, the list goes on.
So it’s easier to avoid processed foods altogether and either make it yourself or buy freshly made products from local stores – e.g., wholegrain bread from your local baker is a healthier option than mass-produced bread from a supermarket. And a bowl of wholegrain oats (with nuts, seeds, a little honey) is far better than a sugar-coated breakfast cereal. Even commercial granola bars are packed with sugar so make your own granola or muesli. That way you can have it exactly how you like it too.
Other food and drink tips:
- don’t worry about a low-fat diet but eat plenty unsaturated fats – e.g. those in olives, olive oil, nuts, seeds, oily fish like salmon and mackerel
- eat whole grain products rather than refined grain produces – so replace white bread with wholegrain bread, regular pasta with wholegrain pasta, white rice with brown rice etc.
- eat lots of fresh vegetables and fruits – try and eat different colours in a day too to get the full range of beneficial plant nutrients
- watch how much coffee you drink as it may be affecting your blood pressure more than you realize – try more tea – green tea, herbal tea – hibiscus tea has particular BP-lowering effects
- also cut out sodas, soft drinks, sports drinks – go for coconut water which is rehydrating and can help lower blood pressure, or smoothies containing vegetables as well as fruits
- a bit of booze may actually help your heart and blood pressure but, of course, too much is very harmful – sticking to a drink or two a day at most is probably best
(Many more food and drink tips in our guide to lowering blood pressure naturally, below)
The best natural ways to lower your blood pressure 2: get moving
Exercise is undoubtedly one of the best natural ways to lower your blood pressure, strengthen your heart and improve your health in general. What’s called aerobic exercise is what you want to do – exercise that gets your heart beating harder and lungs working harder (enough so that you’re still able to speak short sentences but are a bit too much out of breath to talk for too long at a stretch).
Going for a brisk walk first thing or when you get home from work/your day’s busy-ness, is one straightforward way to be more active. Cycling is great too. In fact, anything which gets you moving – hoovering, gardening, sex, DIY.
You can also do handgrip exercises daily and they don’t even involve getting out of your chair. They aren’t a replacement for good aerobic exercise but they are one of the best natural ways to lower your blood pressure. More details here: handgrip exercises for lower blood pressure
The best natural ways to lower your blood pressure 3: relax….
The third of the best natural ways to lower your blood pressure is to relax more. Yep, even if you don’t have a fast-paced high-adrenaline lifestyle, you might still be finding yourself feeling tense, tired and stressed too much of the time. Actually, even feeling stressed a little bit of the time can have detrimental effects on your blood pressure.
There are many ways you can reduce your stress levels. Many people recommend taking up traditional practices such as yoga and meditation, and there are yoga and meditation classes and drop-in groups in many towns and cities these days.
One of the newer techniques is laughter therapy – read about it here, and if you can find a group near you, go for it because it sounds like great fun! High blood pressure? Laugh it off
One of the simplest and most effective things you can do though is to make time every day for a period of slow breathing. There’s a lot of research now that shows this to be one of the best natural ways to lower your blood pressure and the quickest.
Slow breathing will lower your blood pressure within minutes – so it’s a good skill to have when you’re in a stressful situation. But doing it regularly will also lower your general blood pressure levels in the long-term. You can read more about it here, and also find some audio tracks which you can breathe along to: slow breathing
That’s just a quick run-through to start off with. There’s a lot more information on all of these topics on this website. You can use the search bar in the top left to search the website.
You can also have a look at our guide to the best natural ways to lower your blood pressure: Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally – The Complete 9 Step Guide
The best natural ways to lower your blood pressure – all in one book!
This guide goes through everything I’ve talked about in this post but more thoroughly and in far more detail. You’ll find everything you need to know about the best foods and drinks for lowering your blood pressure (as well as avoiding the bad stuff, there are also lots of foods and drinks which will actively help lower your blood pressure).
There’s also a lot more about easy ways to be more active and how to incorporate exercise into your everyday life. And there’s information about many different approaches to stress reduction and just being more at ease in general.
Now, that’s quite a lot to be getting on with. But to keep it simple, the guide is laid out in 9 straightforward steps. You just follow the advice for each step – take it a week at a time or a month at a time, whatever suits you – and you’ll be 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 and insights on lifestyle changes. Little things that – put together – can make a big difference.
Lowering your blood pressure naturally doesn’t have to be hard!
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.
(Post by Alison)
Image credits: vegetables – Peyri Herrera, girl meditating – Caleb Roenigk, both via Flickr.com