Do you know what your blood pressure is? Perhaps even more importantly; do you know what your blood pressure should be?
Did you know? Half of the people living with high blood pressure don’t even know about it?
High blood pressure is the number one contributing risk factor for strokes, heart attacks and cardiovascular conditions, yet it is still vastly overlooked.
This month is May Measurement Month; A global campaign led by the International Society of Hypertension “to increase awareness of the issues surrounding high blood pressure.”
At Kinetik we see this is a perfect opportunity to encourage as many people as possible to start thinking about their blood pressure, because it can affect anybody, at any time.
The best way to lower your blood pressure naturally is by improving your understanding of the triggers, and avoiding them wherever possible in your lifestyle.
Here we answer a few common questions surrounding high blood pressure and how to lower yours naturally.
How can I tell if I have high blood pressure?
Hypertension (High Blood Pressure) is often referred to as a silent killer because it carries no recognisable symptoms, so checking your blood pressure regularly is the best possible way to tell if it needs addressing. You can visit your GP or pharmacist for a blood pressure check, or you can use a monitor at home to measure it yourself. Watch our video for tips on taking your own blood pressure at home.
Once you know your blood pressure reading, you need to educate yourself about what it actually means. Our online blood pressure checker is sourced from the NHS website and can tell you instantly what your blood pressure reading means for your health. You can have a look at it here.
When should I take action if my blood pressure is high?
Immediate action is important and you should consult with your GP to discuss the best course of treatment for you.
But why wait until you get a high reading to take action? Healthy blood pressure can often be maintained with a few simple lifestyle changes, and taking action today could help you and your family to keep your blood pressure steady in the long term.
Can I lower my blood pressure naturally with my diet?
A healthy diet is key for all aspects of your health and wellbeing, and there are certain foods which will have a direct impact on your blood pressure.
Here are a few key foods to be wary of:
Blood Pressure UK names eating too much salt as the biggest cause of high blood pressure and the more salt you eat, the higher your blood pressure will be. Read what Blood Pressure UK says about Salt.
The recommended daily intake of salt for an adult is 6g but most of us consume much more than this because salt is hidden in many of the foods we eat. Higher levels of salt are often found in processed foods such as pre-prepared cooking sauces and ready meals, but also every day foods like bread and cereals. Check food labelling when you buy and aim to cook fresh food wherever possible.
If you are cooking from scratch, try not to add extra salt to your food and experiment with other herbs and spices instead. This website has some fantastic low-salt recipes to try.
Read more about salt and how it affects your health here: https://www.mindtomusclefitness.com/is-salt-bad-for-you/
Your body turns saturated fat into cholesterol and whilst some cholesterol is needed in your diet, any excess in your blood will end up clinging to the sides of your arteries. Your arteries then become too narrow which strains them and causes your blood pressure to rise. You will also be at a higher risk of heart attacks or stroke.
Where to watch out for saturated fat:
- Red meat – choose lean meat and trim off any excess fat. If grilling, let the fat drain away and blot with kitchen paper before eating.
- Cheese – look for low fat options wherever possible
- Pastries and cakes – the tastiest treats in life are generally the ones to avoid in excess! Use these as a treat if you can.
- Butter or plant based oils like palm oil and coconut oil – switch to cooking with oils which are low in mono-saturated fats like sunflower oil, rapeseed oil and olive oil, and if you just can’t do without butter on your sandwiches, switch it to a low fat spread.
Alcohol is high in calories which can cause weight gain, and being overweight is directly related to high blood pressure. To help maintain healthy blood pressure it is recommended that you follow the current UK guidelines for drinking alcohol which are set at 14 units of alcohol per week for all adults (both men and women). This is equivalent to 6 x 175ml glasses of wine or 6 pints of normal strength beer or ale.
What foods can I eat to help lower my blood pressure?
- Eating 5 portions of fresh fruit and vegetables every day will help to enrich your body with the vitamins and minerals it needs to stay fit and healthy so aim to incorporate them into your diet wherever possible.
- Pulses and legumes such as chickpeas and lentils are particularly rich in potassium which helps to counteract the effects of salt in your body. Aim for three heaped tablespoons per day.
- Berries are high in anti-oxidants and fairly low in sugar so they make a great healthy snack.
- Fish high in omega-3 fatty acids is said to help to lower blood pressure, it is also low in saturated fat and calories. It is recommended that you eat fish at least 2-3 times per week.
What other lifestyle changes can I make to naturally lower my blood pressure?
Get moving! Improving your fitness through regular exercise will have a positive effect on your health and mood.
Exercises to be wary of if you are concerned about high blood pressure are activities like weight lifting, sprinting, High Intensity Training (HIT classes) and sports like squash – anything that is likely to raise your blood pressure very quickly will put more strain on your heart and blood vessels.
Exercises that are deemed to have a positive effect on high blood pressure are brisk walks or jogging, swimming, cycling or group exercise classes like dance based activities.
However, it is important that you do take care not to put any additional strain or stress on your body, particularly if you already have high blood pressure so we always recommend that you consult your GP before starting any new exercise or fitness.
Where shall I start if I want to monitor my blood pressure and lower it naturally?
If you don’t know what your blood pressure is, get it checked as soon as possible. If you prefer not to see a GP at this stage you could purchase your own blood pressure monitor.
Follow the manual that comes with your monitor carefully to ensure that you are taking the most accurate readings possible.
Take your blood pressure when your heart is at rest (and has been for at least 5 minutes), sit comfortably with your legs uncrossed and keep your arm supported and level with your body (don’t raise it above your head).
Take several readings and record them to help you achieve an average reading, you could use the FREE Kinetik Health App to record and track your results – download it for iOS here or for Android here.