Unfortunately, 1 in 3 adult Americans or around 67 million people, suffer from high blood pressure or hypertension. And, to make things worse, this number will only continue to grow in the future. 95% of the cases are primary hypertension which is high blood pressure without an underlying medical problem. The 5% of cases is a result of conditions like kidney disease.
Blood and circulation are crucial for sustaining life because they supply important nutrients and oxygen to all the body cells and organs. Also, they eliminate waste and carbon dioxide from the body and when the heart beats, it creates a pressure that pushes the blood through the veins and arteries. This pressure is the blood pressure.
It’s made of two forces pumping blood through the body. One is created by the heart pumping blood out into the arteries and the other happens when the heart rests in between beats and when blood is being drawn back into the muscle. However, when the blood pressure increases, the chance of damage to this system is high.
The heart of those who suffer from high blood pressure needs to work additionally in order to pump blood through the body. What’s more, even though healthy arteries are made of semi-flexible muscle, the force of the high blood pressure will cause these walls to overstretch. This leads to tiny tears in the blood vessels; and it leaves tissue which may catch cholesterol/plaque and other blood cells.
In return, this causes an increased risk of blood clots and over time the walls also weaken. Due to lack of oxygen, the tissue of the arteries becomes damaged. The conventional therapy for high blood pressure is consisted of high blood pressure medications; however, it should be noted that healthy lifestyle changes like a healthy diet and regular workout play an important role in the reduction of the pressure. If possible, you should avoid blood pressure meds since they come with a lot of unwanted side effects. Here’s what you can do or consume if you’ve been diagnosed with hypertension:
Excessive amounts of sodium impede the fluid balance in the body. In order to remove surplus salt from the system, water is being taken from the surrounding tissues and the higher volume of liquid makes the heart work harder in order to pump blood.
The pinch of table salt you put in your meals isn’t enough to cause a rise in the blood pressure and in fact only 6% of our consumption of salt comes from table salt. We intake the most salt from the processed foods we eat. For example, a microwave roast turkey meal has salt in the meat, the flavoring, the graving, the stuffing, and in the potatoes, i.e. 5,400 mg of sodium!
The maximum daily intake of salt is 2,300 mg and less than 2,300 mg for African Americans and anyone older than 51. These groups should consume less than half a tsp of salt per day. In order to avoid excessive amounts of salt, you need to add as less salt as possible to the meals you cook. Also, when you buy food, you need to pay attention to the label. A fat better solution would be to exclude processed foods or to limit their intake as much as possible and focus more on homemade meals.
According to research, the more salt we eat, the more salt we need. Interestingly, we are not born with the need for salt. Namely, according to a study in which one group of children were given salty foods and the other group ate more fruits and veggies, the former group developed a craving which didn’t exist prior to the study. Nowadays, young generations can easily ‘get hooked’ to salt since their diets contain foods rich in salt like store-bought soups, chips, crackers, pizza, salad dressings, fries, etc.
Drink hibiscus tea
Studies done in the past decade show that hibiscus has a diuretic effect and thus, it pulls sodium from the bloodstream and reduces the pressure on the arterial walls. This tea was found to mimic ACE inhibitors- a common group of pharmaceutical drugs used for treatment of high blood pressure. Even though it’s not as powerful as the ACE medications, it can still have a positive effect. Here’s how to prepare hibiscus tea:
2 tsp of dried hibiscus
A cup of water
A tsp of organic honey -optional
One lemon- optional
1 cinnamon stick- optional
Preparation: First, boil the water and then add the hibiscus and the cinnamon stick and leave the mixture to steep for 5 minutes. Next, squeeze a bit of lemon.
Drink it 2 to 3 times per day.
Drink coconut water
Coconut water is found inside the shell of unripe coconuts and it is rich in potassium and magnesium which are known to regulate muscle function. According to studies, coconut oil affects the systolic blood pressure. Although further research is needed in order to show the connection between coconut water and high blood pressure, a lot of people swear by it to have helped them lower their blood pressure. You should drink 8 ounces of coconut water 1 to 2 times per day. Drink it in the morning and at night.
Fish oil is successful in reducing high blood pressure and triglycerides while increasing the good cholesterol. Heart transplant patients are often given fish oil in order to decrease the chance of hypertension. You should buy high quality fish oil, preferably liquid, and drink it according to what the label of the product says.
Hawthorn is a staple herb and it’s rich in flavonoids. Flavonoids have been found to have a positive effect on arrhythmia, palpitations and they also betters the function of the capillaries and regulate the glucose metabolism; they also lower the arterial blood pressure and the risk of hypertension.
How to prepare this herbal medicine:
4 tbsp of powdered hawthorn berry
1 tbsp of cinnamon powder
Preparation: Mix the cinnamon and hawthorn and then add enough honey and water to make a paste. Thicken the mixture with cocoa powder until you get dough that you need to roll into smaller balls, not bigger than your index fingernail. Then, place the balls on a cookie sheet and put them in the oven at less than 150 degrees Fahrenheit and wait for them to dry. Afterwards, take them out of the oven and transfer them into a glass jar. Keep the jar out of direct sunlight and in a cool area.
Work out regularly
Since the heart is a muscle, it will become stronger with exercise and it will become easier to pump blood and this will result in less effort and the heart’s condition will significantly improve and result in reduced force exerted on the arteries and a lowered blood pressure. The only ‘side effect’ of exercising is a healthy weight loss.
All you need is half an hour of exercise per day. Sometimes, even simple household chores like scrubbing the floor can be beneficial. In fact, anything that increases the heart and respiration is recommendable.
Since the beneficial component of garlic, allicin, is deactivated when it comes into contact with a substance with a pH lower than 3, like our stomach acid, it’s better to take garlic in tablet form. However, you need good quality garlic tablets in order to benefit from the allicin.
Watermelon has citrulline which converts into arginine- a chemical building block that causes a production of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is in charge of regulating the pumping of the blood throughout the whole body. It will also spread the blood vessels, and thus, lower the blood pressure. You should eat 2 cups of fresh watermelon every morning on an empty stomach. Observe the change with a blood pressure device.
Ginger and cardamom tea
According to a study done in 2009, published in the Indian Journal of Biochemistry & Biophysics, participants who were given a tsp of cardamom powder every day for a period of few weeks experienced a significant reduction in their blood pressure.
The combination of cardamom and ginger will better the circulation and improve the heart’s health. Here’s how to prepare the tea:
Half a cup of water
2 tsp of honey
A tsp of cardamom pods
Half a tsp of ginger powder
A tsp of cinnamon powder
One teabag of black tea
Half a cup of milk
A mortar and pestle
Preparation: First, crush the cardamom pods and then mix all the ingredients in a saucepan, except the honey. Bring the saucepan to heat and then leave it to simmer for 9 minutes or until you get a mixture with a caramel-brown color. Add the honey, stir the content, and then strain it into a cup.
Drink 2 cups per day.
Cat’s claw decoction
Cat’s claw is a climbing vine found in Central and South America and natives have been using it as a natural remedy for numerous health problems, one of them being high blood pressure. It’s believed that cat’s claw lowers the blood pressure by dilating the blood vessels and allowing blood to flow through better. It also has a diuretic effect which contributes to a decrease in the blood pressure. A decoction is essentially a tea, but simmered for a longer period of time since it’s made from the woody, tough, and fibrous plant parts like the roots or the bark. If you are pregnant, you should avoid it, otherwise, it’s safe.
For the preparation of the concoction you will need:
2 tbsp of dried herb
2 cups of water
A bit of honey
Preparation: Put the water and the dried herb in a saucepan and bring it to boil. Once it boils, cover it, and leave it to simmer for 45 minutes. Then, strain the mixture into a cup and add honey and squeeze a bit of lemon. Drink one cup daily.
Blueberries are rich in quercetin- a flavonoid. For an extra healthy kick, add elderberries. In order to prepare this healthy syrup, you will need:
8 tbsp of dried blueberries or 4 tbsp of dried blueberries and 4 tbsp of dried elderberries
4 cups of water
A cup of honey
A glass jar
Preparation: Add the dried berries (and elderberries) to the water and bring it to simmer over low heat until the liquid reduces in half. Strain the solids out and press them to extract juices and put the liquid back into the pot. Add the honey. If you want thicker syrup, you need to heat the honey and berry juice over medium-high heat for 20 minutes. If you like it thinner, then you should skip this step. In the end, transfer the syrup into a dark bottle and store it in the fridge up to one month. Take 1 tbsp per day.
Understanding blood pressure
The two forces that pump blood through the body are known as systole and diastole and these are the numbers we see on a blood pressure reading. The top number is the systolic pressure and it’s the higher number whereas diastolic is the second, lower number. The first number refers to the force of blood being PUMPED AWAY while the second number shows the heart at rest, refilling with blood. In normal conditions, the systolic number should be less than 120 and the diastolic less than 80.