If you are hypertensive (suffering from high blood pressure) and are wondering how do I naturally lower my blood pressure without using the medication, then you are in the right place. You may also be a caregiver to a hypertensive patient wondering if their dietary approaches or physical activity can lower blood pressure. I have the answer for that too.
In today’s article I will discuss what blood pressure is, what causes high blood pressure, how blood pressure medications work to lower blood pressure, and how you can naturally reduce high blood pressure. I can feel the tension, so without any further ado, let’s get to it!
What Is High Blood Pressure?
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1.6 million (46%) adults in the USA suffer from elevated blood pressure. Unfortunately, only 24% of these adults can control high blood pressure. In 2020, high blood pressure was the cause or contributing factor for over 670,000 deaths. High blood pressure cost over $131 billion annually in the USA. The number of people that are unaware of their hypertension and those living with it untreated is alarming creating the need to increase awareness of this silent killer.
You will be termed hypertensive or having high blood pressure when your systolic blood pressure levels are above 130mmHg or diastolic blood pressure levels of higher than 80mmHg or have a prescription for blood pressure medication. Any reading above this is considered high blood pressure. Blood pressure is measured by millimetres of mercury (mmHg).
What Is Systolic Blood Pressure?
Systolic blood pressure reading refers to the blood pressure in your arteries when your heart pumps blood to the rest of your body. When your systolic blood pressure levels are high, this is a strong risk factor for stroke and chronic kidney disease (CKD).
What Is Diastolic Blood Pressure?
The diastolic blood pressure reading is the number at the bottom that represents the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart is relaxing and filling with blood. Simply put, it is the blood pressure in your vessels when your heart is at rest. Research shows that high diastolic blood pressure is a risk factor for heart disease, aneurysm, atrial fibrillation, heart attack and failure, and peripheral arterial disease.
Lower diastolic blood pressure can reduce blood pressure to supply oxygen to brain cells leading to stroke. So high blood pressure isn’t the only thing to look out for. When your systolic blood pressure levels are normal, but you have high diastolic blood pressure (isolated diastolic hypertension), seek medical attention because you are at risk of heart disease.
What Are The Causes Of Elevated Blood Pressure?
High blood pressure occurs over time and can go undetected for some time.Before answering your question, how do I naturally lower my blood pressure, ou must know what causes it to rise!
Contributing factors could be unhealthy lifestyle choices like drinking alcohol, poor dietary choices, and lack of physical activity. Moreover, some health conditions like obesity and diabetes are risk factors for hypertension. You can also develop high blood pressure when pregnant (pre-eclampsia).
Other risk factors include smoking, a diet low in vitamin D and potassium intake, chronic stress, too much salt intake, old age, some non-steroid anti-inflammatory medication, and genetics. Sleep apnea causes a drop in oxygen levels which raises blood pressure, making obstructive sleep apnea a risk factor for secondary hypertension. All these risk factors will increase blood pressure compromising your heart health and predisposing you to kidney failure.
What Are The Symptoms Of High Blood Pressure?
You may be wondering what signs to look out for that can tell you whether your blood pressure is high, besides routinely measuring your blood pressure. The symptoms of high blood pressure include:
- chest pains
- Nose bleeding
- Bloody urine
- Irregular heartbeats/palpitations
- Shortness of breath
- Eyesight problems
If you experience any of these signs paired with a pressure reading above 130/80 mmHg, please seek medical attention.
How Do Blood Pressure Medication Work?
One way to control high blood pressure is by taking blood pressure meds. Let’s see how these anti-hypertensive drugs work to help lower blood pressure.
How Anti-hypertensive Meds Lower Blood Pressure
Hypertension meds lower your blood pressure by treating the signs and symptoms of high blood pressure rather than the causes. Your meds lower blood pressure by:
- Reducing the amount of water and salt in your body to a healthy level by increasing the number of times you urinate
- Blood pressure meds also relax blood vessels
- These drugs also reduce the force your heart uses to pump blood
- The nerve activity that restricts blood vessels is inhibited by anti-hypertensive meds
Blood pressure medication should only be consumed on prescription by a registered physician. You may need more than one hypertensive medication to lower high blood pressure. Do not stop taking your meds without consulting your doctor.
How Do I Naturally Lower Blood Pressure Without Medication?
Having mentioned that anti-hypertensive medications lower blood pressure by treating the symptoms, it is wiser to find methods that address the root causes of lowering high blood pressure. You need not worry, there are efficient and easy ways to lower your blood pressure naturally without having to take medications. By making healthy lifestyle changes like eating healthy food, reducing salt intake, managing chronic stress, and exercising to lose weight, you will be able to lower blood pressure naturally.
Ways You Can Lower Blood Pressure Naturally
Stress hormones released when you are anxious or overwhelmed can cause higher blood pressure over a specific time since it increases the speed at which your heart beats and narrows blood vessels. Binge eating, increasing the amount of alcohol consumed, and smoking to reduce stress will only exacerbate your issue instead of lowering blood pressure.
Stress reduction techniques like getting physically active, meditating, yoga, and journaling may help you manage stress better and more efficiently.
Eating Potassium Rich Foods
A study on individuals with hypertension showed that temporary potassium depletion increases arterial pressure and raises blood pressure. Potassium depletion induces sodium retention leading to higher blood pressure, which is not observed when sodium intake is low.
High potassium intake helps in the excretion of sodium in the blood through urine. It also helps in lowering the tension in your blood vessel walls which will also help lower blood pressure. Eating foods rich in potassium like melons, avocados, and green leafy vegetables will help lower blood pressure naturally in a few weeks to a couple of months.
Consider taking potassium supplements if you are hypertensive. Research has shown that increased potassium intake reduces systolic blood pressure and diastolic pressure making it an effective non-pharmacological approach for lowering blood pressure.
Low serum potassium levels or low dietary intake of potassium are associated with an increased risk of insulin resistance. To lower the risk of insulin resistance, consuming potassium-rich foods increases glucose metabolism promoting insulin sensitivity. However, more research and clinical trials are needed to prove this phenomenon.
A sedentary life has been associated with an increased risk of heart disease and hypertension. Leisure-time physical activity, moderate intensity, and high-intensity exercises promote weight loss and regulate blood pressure.
Spend 30 minutes of your day doing some light exercises to be able to lower your blood pressure. Aerobic exercise increases blood flow, increases palpitations gradually and stretches the heart and blood vessels. Running, walking, jogging, swimming and cycling are exercises you can do to help in lowering blood pressure.
Try a Low-Carb Diet
What you eat affects your blood pressure a great deal. A recent study showed that a Spanish ketogenic Mediterranean diet would be effective in cardiovascular problems and weight loss. A low-carb diet focuses on eating plain Greek yogurt, low-starchy vegetables, using healthy oils, and consumption of whole foods, that promote fat breakdown through ketosis.
In a Spanish diet, fish is the main component, so eating fish and fish oil will add omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids that can promote heart health. Whole grains are allowed in the DASH (Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension) diet, recommended by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), because they are high in fiber which can help control blood pressure.
However, whole grains are not allowed in the keto diet because they are high in carbs which contribute to weight gain and insulin resistance in people with metabolic syndrome. Pick whole grains that are low in net carbs like wild rice, barley, buckwheat and bulgur, which are both keto-friendly and great on the DASH diet.
Wild rice is nutrient-dense but still contains carbs, so pay attention to your portion sizes. Large portions could provide too many carbs which are meant to be restricted on a keto diet.
You will also avoid sugar-sweetened beverages that have added sugar which can elevate your blood sugar levels and prevent ketosis. This combination of a keto diet and a Mediterranean diet will enable you to reap the benefits of both worlds.
No Drinking Alcohol or Smoking
Moderate alcohol consumption (13 drinks a week) increased the risk of developing high blood pressure. In patients with high blood pressure drinking alcohol increased diastolic and systolic pressure. Alcohol increases the hormone renin that constricts blood vessels and reduces the amount of fluid excreted during urination increasing blood pressure.
Alcohol consumption can cause dehydration, loss of magnesium and potassium, and gaining weight which leads to a rise in blood pressure. Even the one-drink-per-day recommendation can be harmful to your health, especially when you’re on anti-hypertensive medications.
On the other hand, smoking causes an immediate but temporary increase in blood pressure. Cigarettes contain tobacco which damages vessel walls, narrowing arteries and causing inflammations. Once you quit smoking your chances of developing hypertension reduce within three years.
Reduce Your Body Weight
Obesity is a risk factor for hypertension. Obesity-associated arterial hypertension is caused by adipose tissue dysfunction resulting in oxidative stress and chronic inflammation. A healthy diet and exercise can help you manage your weight. When you have less weight, your heart doesn’t have to pump as hard, and your arteries do not thicken. Thick arteries lead to increased blood pressure.
Losing weight through a ketogenic diet is a safe and healthy way to ensure you reach a healthy body weight. On keto, you will be on a diet that triggers ketosis, provides you with essential macro and micronutrients, and further helps improve insulin sensitivity.
Eat Less Salt
Salt causes your body to retain water. Salt contains sodium which is needed in small amounts in the body. High salt intake increases blood pressure brought about by water retention, changes in arterial structure, and an increase in systematic peripheral resistance. You don’t have to completely do away with salt from your diet, just avoid foods that have a lot of salt like chips, salted nuts, and processed foods.
Dehydration causes the release of vasopressin which assists the kidney in water retention. This chemical will reduce urination and constrict your blood vessels increasing blood pressure. Also, your body will release a high amount of stress hormones when you are dehydrated to help maintain blood flow. Make sure to stay hydrated throughout the day and even when you engage in physical activities.
Try Dark Chocolate
A study carried out in Jordan on normotensive individuals reported that a higher intake of dark chocolate was associated with lower blood pressure. Why dark chocolate you ask? This is because it contains a high amount of cocoa (pick those with 70% and above cocoa content) and fewer amounts of sugar when compared to other types of chocolate.
Another study on healthy adults on dark chocolate showed a decrease in blood pressure and an increase in insulin sensitivity. This is because dark chocolate contains flavanols with vascular protection properties since they are anti-oxidants and increase the bioavailability of nitric oxide.
Stay Clear of Processed Foods
Processed foods are high in trans fats and sodium which are the greatest enemies of hypertension. These foods are also high in added sugar that inhibits weight loss in overweight and obese individuals.
Consuming processed foods will make you consume large quantities of saturated fat, which in excess compromises heart health. Although low-fat dairy products are recommended because they contain lower amounts of saturated fat, I would recommend high-fat, low-carb dairy products like plain Greek yogurt and cheddar cheese when following a keto diet.
Foods containing saturated fats like coconut oil are good because they are rich in medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) that boost HDL cholesterol and help with weight loss. The saying too much of something is poisonous applies here too. Saturated fats can have a positive effect on your heart when consumed in moderation.
You asked, how do I naturally lower blood pressure? You now have your answer.
Does a High Blood Pressure Reading Mean you’re Hypertensive?
No, a high BP reading does not mean that you are hypertensive. Labile hypertension can be caused by fear or stress and is situational. Blood pressure will drop on its own when the trigger is eliminated.
Think of this situation, you have left home and your heartbeat is normal and you can barely hear it. But when you get to the hospital, your levels of anxiety increase, and you don’t like hospitals. When your BP is measured at this point it is higher than normal. My friend, you are suffering from a classic case of white-coat hypertension. The cure, switching settings. Once you are out of your doctor’s office, your pressure will lower on its own. White coat hypertension and labile hypertension do not make you hypertensive.
Incident hypertension means you are hypertensive because it is ongoing treatment or more than three consecutive readings of above 140/90 mmHg or anti-hypertensive therapy.
Does Aspirin Lower Blood Pressure?
The effects of aspirin on BP are different for different cases. On its own, aspirin cannot lower your blood pressure. Some research has shown that taking aspirin before bedtime may reduce blood pressure compared to taking it in the morning. These results are not consistent and more research is needed to prove this hypothesis.
You already know how you can naturally lower blood pressure, you are better off using these methods.
Does Caffeine Raise Blood Pressure?
A meta-analysis on the impact of caffeine consumption on blood pressure showed that moderate consumption of coffee was okay in normotensive and hypertensive people. If you are on hypertensive medication or have high blood pressure, avoid consuming too much coffee because it increases your heart rate and constricts your blood vessels. It’s like a boost of adrenaline for your body. You are better off drinking unsweetened decaf coffee, once in a while, just to reduce your caffeine cravings.
What Is Stroke Level Blood Pressure?
If you measure your blood pressure and get a reading of 180/120 mmHg and above, please dial 911. Even though you may lack the symptoms of a stroke, that is tingling or numbness, change in vision, chest pain, difficulty in breathing, and trouble speaking, still seek medical attention.
These high readings are considered a hypertensive emergency and if not treated could worsen into a stroke, heart failure, and other serious cardiac problems.
Can You Reverse Hypertension?
Pre-hypertension is reversible, early detection and treatment can reverse the early warning sign before developing hypertension. However, there’s no cure for hypertension. The good news, with these remedies you can naturally lower your blood pressure and keep it down for a very long, long time. The trick is consistency.
Go keto and be strict about it, get your workout on, manage your weight, drink your water, and manage your stress, and hypertension will be a long-forgotten tale for you. These significant changes in your lifestyle will ensure you live a long and tense-free life.
Your lifestyle choices can help you manage your blood pressure. How do I naturally lower my blood pressure? There are natural ways to control hypertension that require you to pick a healthier lifestyle. Adhere to the dos and don’ts of regulating blood pressure and everything will fall into place. One other important thing I should mention is, you have to keep a close eye on your blood pressure, especially when you are taking up or dropping the habits stated above.
After reading this article, would you consider the natural ways of lowering your blood pressure without medication? Which natural remedies have you been using? How are they working for you so far? Would you consider going keto? Drop your answers in the comment section. Let’s talk!