Prescription blood pressure medication is one effective way to treat high blood pressure (HBP). But making a few fundamental lifestyle changes can help lower your blood pressure naturally. Diet, exercise, behavioral health, and other natural solutions can maximize your hypertension meds and even minimize your need for medication over time. Plus, they’re great ways to stay healthy, whether you’re worried about high blood pressure or not. Here are 8 natural ways to lower blood pressure.
1. Lose weight if you’re overweight.
As a general rule, the higher your weight, the higher your blood pressure. Not everyone with high blood pressure is overweight. But if your BMI is over 25, you’ll likely be able to reduce your blood pressure by dropping some weight.
Losing excess weight can have a dramatic impact on both your systolic and diastolic readings. Recent studies found that you can lower your systolic blood pressure between 5-20 points for every 20 pounds you lose. Even losing a small amount of weight, 2.2 pounds, can help lower your readings by a point.
It’s essential to reduce extra weight around your waistline. Surplus weight there puts more pressure on your heart than it would if carried by other parts of your body. In general, men with a waist measurement over 40” and women with a waist over 35” are at greater risk.
2. Exercise and stay active.
Staying active helps keep one of your body’s most essential muscles strong—your heart. The stronger your heart is, the easier it is to pump blood throughout your body. The easier it is for your heart to pump blood, the lower your blood pressure.
Daily exercise is another highly effective path to lowering blood pressure naturally. This is especially true if you exercise for around 150 minutes each week, which breaks down to 30 minutes of activity for 5 days each week. Regular exercise can keep you from developing hypertension if you’re at risk and can reduce your BP levels if you’ve already been diagnosed with hypertension.
For maximum benefit, aim for moderate aerobic exercise most days, plus a couple of strength training days. Jogging, brisk walking, swimming, dancing, and riding a bike are all great ways to stay active through aerobic exercise.
But it’s all about finding a way to keep active that works for you. If it’s a better fit, you can also count everyday tasks like cleaning, gardening, hiking, and team sports.
3. Eat less salt.
Table salt, or sodium chloride, has been well-established as a correlate of high blood pressure.
The more salt you put in your body, the more water your body stores to try to flush it out. When you have excess salt in your bloodstream, you pull water into your arteries. The added volume inside arterial blood vessels increases your blood pressure. That’s why cutting back on salt is another way to lower blood pressure naturally..
Your arteries work hard to process the excess salt you eat, elevating your BP. Over time, high blood pressure can cause the walls of your blood vessels to get injured or stretched out. And chronic high blood pressure from excess salt can also cause plaque to build up inside your vessels that can slow or stop blood flow.
Did you know that more than 70% of the sodium you eat comes from prepackaged foods and restaurants? That’s why you can reduce your intake by cooking fresh food for yourself at home.
Even cutting out some of your daily salt intake can lower your blood pressure levels significantly. Aim to eat no more than 2,300 mg of salt a day and, if you can, cut back to 1,500 mg of salt daily.
4. Limit your alcohol intake.
If you have more than 3 drinks in a sitting, drinking alcohol can cause a spike in your blood pressure. This is especially true for binge drinkers and heavy drinkers. Heavy drinkers are at even greater risk of HBP since chronic alcohol use can cause long-term increases in your blood pressure levels.
To avoid this increase, we suggest you limit your alcohol intake. And if you have hypertension, the best policy is to avoid alcohol altogether.
But if you do drink, make sure you do it in moderation. This means no more than 2 drinks a day for men under 65, no more than 1 drink a day for men over 65, and no more than 1 drink a day for women, regardless of age. Drinking alcohol can even positively impact some aspects of your health, including your blood pressure. But this is only true if you drink in moderation.
5. Eat healthy foods.
In general, try to stay away from foods high in fat and avoid processed foods, which often contain high levels of salt and other preservatives. It’s also best to remove red meat, desserts, and sugary drinks from your diet altogether.
But it’s not just what you don’t eat that affects your blood pressure. The good stuff you put in your body can actually help lower your BP levels. Be sure to eat plenty of whole grains, veggies, and fruits. Add in some low-fat dairy products, lean meats, and fish, plus nuts, seeds, and legumes.
Many people with high blood pressure see measurable results when following the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet.
This diet is rich in the minerals potassium and magnesium, which can help you naturally lower blood pressure. For potassium-rich foods, try spinach, beans, lentils, bananas, and dried apricots. Swiss chard is an excellent choice because it contains both potassium and magnesium.
6. Stop smoking.
Smoking just one cigarette can cause a spike in your BP levels for minutes afterward. That’s only one of the many reasons healthcare professionals suggest you quit smoking. If you’re a smoker with high blood pressure, it’s probably not the first time you’ve heard this suggestion.
Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for your health period. By quitting, you’ll not only lower your risk of heart disease and hypertension, but you’ll also give your lungs and the rest of your body a chance to heal.
But here’s some added incentive for folks with HBP or at risk of developing it. After 1 – 2 years, your risk of heart attack drops significantly. And after 15 years, your risk of heart disease is the same as someone who’s never smoked.
If you need help quitting, we’re here for you. Lemonaid can get you the support you need to stop smoking today.
7. Reduce stress levels.
Reducing stress and anxiety in your life is another powerful way to combat HBP. Stress has a proven impact on physical and mental health. Recent studies have demonstrated that chronic psychological stress is one of the contributing factors in the development of hypertension. If you’re looking for natural ways to lower your blood pressure, spend some time evaluating your stress levels.
Some of the most widely experienced causes of chronic stress have to do with work, marital and other intimate relationships, social isolation, poverty, and racial discrimination.
In addition to these causes, ruminative or catastrophic thinking can also cause spikes in blood pressure. Over time, rumination and other stress-related issues can make it more challenging to recover from BP spikes and return to pre-stress BP levels.
Meditation is one strategy that’s proven effective at lowering blood pressure. Researchers tested a series of different behavioral techniques. Of all these techniques, it turns out that mindfulness, meditation, and qigong are the practices that directly combat the effects of stress-related spikes in blood pressure.
8. Get enough good sleep.
Insufficient sleep increases your blood pressure. In addition to the number of hours you sleep each night, it’s also essential to look at the quality of sleep you’re getting. Issues like insomnia and poor sleep quality have also been correlated to HBP.
Your body needs sleep to restore itself, and getting enough rest each night can protect both your physical and mental health. Healthcare professionals recommend that adults get at least 7-9 hours of sleep each night.
In fact, if you’re sleeping for 6 or fewer hours a night, there’s a better chance you’ll develop HBP, elevated heart rate, and mental health issues like depression and anxiety. To lower blood pressure naturally, find ways to increase restful sleep. If you’re having a difficult time with insomnia, talk to a medical professional now about your sleep issues.
Finally, a condition called obstructive sleep apnea increases the chance of hypertension and other health problems. You’re at greater risk for sleep apnea if you’re overweight, especially if you snore. Talk to a medical professional if you wake up tired after a full night’s sleep to see if sleep apnea could be the cause.
- If you want to learn how to lower your blood pressure naturally, changes in diet, exercise, and behavioral health can help.
- Sticking with these changes over time can reduce your need for blood pressure medication and even avoid it altogether.
- If natural ways to lower blood pressure haven’t helped, reach out to our medical team for a blood pressure medication consultation.
- Contact your healthcare provider if you have any questions. Never stop or reduce your blood pressure medications without first consulting a medical professional.
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