Natural Methods For Reducing High Blood Pressure

About 1 in 3 American adults¹ have high blood pressure (also called hypertension), and only half of them have it under control. Many people with high blood pressure are unaware of their condition.

Mild and moderate hypertension can often have no apparent symptoms. It is a challenge to control because the lack of symptoms makes it harder to remember to take whatever medication you might have been prescribed.

The only way to tell if your blood pressure is still high is by taking measurements, which is why your doctor checks your blood pressure every visit. High blood pressure is more common as you get older and can cause serious organ damage or stroke. You should have your blood pressure checked regularly after the age of 30, especially if you are overweight.

As blood pressure is diagnosed through medical check-ups, your doctor will likely tell you that you have a problem long before you notice anything. This makes regular visits to your doctor particularly important.

Before prescribing medications, many doctors recommend lifestyle changes first, as any drug could have side effects. It’s not uncommon to try several medicines before hitting on the one that works best for you.

Here are several natural methods you can use to lower your blood pressure without meds.

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Exercise regularly

Doctors recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week if you have high blood pressure, and it typically equates to about 30 minutes a day, five days a week. Alternatively, if your lifestyle cannot accommodate this, it is recommended to do 75 minutes of more vigorous aerobic exercise per week.

Exercise is one of the best ways to lower your blood pressure; it does so by increasing the strength of your heart. So, aerobic exercise is more effective than other forms of physical activity in lowering blood pressure.

Exercise has other important benefits, too, such as improving your heart health, maintaining a healthy weight, and improving mental health.

It is important to talk to your doctor before starting any exercise regimen. They will advise you on what is best for your body while taking into account any other health conditions you may have. Some examples of recommended exercises include:

  • Climbing the stairs instead of taking the elevator

  • Dancing, any type

  • Gardening

  • Jogging

  • Swimming

  • Brisk walking

  • Cycling

  • Any kind of active sport, such as tennis

The best aerobic exercise is the one you do regularly. Look for opportunities to squeeze little bits of physical activity into your day and take up an active hobby you enjoy. An exercise buddy can also help. For many older adults, a social sport such as tennis or dancing can be really helpful.

If you have mobility issues, find a physical therapist or trainer who specializes in developing exercise programs for individuals with limited mobility.

Quit smoking

We don’t know for sure whether smoking elevates blood pressure. However, it increases your risk of heart attack and stroke. Together with high blood pressure, smoking increases the damage done to your heart. Smoking is also bad for your lungs and increases your risk of cancer.

Quitting smoking is the best single thing you can do for your health. Vaping, while somewhat better for your lungs, may not be much better for your heart and blood pressure due to its nicotine content.

While vaping is a better option if you find quitting impossible, it is not the best way to wean yourself off of cigarettes. Instead, talk to your doctor about a proper smoking cessation plan.

Balance your diet

In addition to specific recommendations from your doctor, try to eat a healthy, balanced diet that is rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and nuts.

Keep a food diary so you know what you are eating. Be aware when dining out, too. It’s very easy to stray from your diet when you’re in a restaurant. Read food labels and make sure that you know the ingredients and nutritional values of your food.

Reduce your sodium intake

The western diet contains a lot of salt, and there is a strong association between higher sodium and higher blood pressure. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 90% of Americans² consume too much sodium. Much of this salt is hidden in processed foods.

To reduce your sodium intake, limit eating the following as much as possible:

  1. Full sodium potato chips and other savory snacks

  2. Salted nuts

  3. Canned soup

  4. Rotisserie or fried chicken

  5. Feta and blue cheeses

  6. Cold cuts and cured meats

  7. Frozen pizza, especially with pepperoni

  8. Poultry that has been injected with a sodium solution

  9. Full sodium condiments including soy sauce, salad dressings, ketchup, and salsa

  10. Frozen vegetables with sauce

  11. Canned vegetables with added salt

Taste your food before adding extra salt. Many restaurant meals already have more than enough. You don’t necessarily have to give all these foods up, just watch your intake and eat in moderation.

When preparing food, replace salt with other flavors such as onions, garlic, and herbs. Drain and rinse canned beans, and cook your pasta, rice, and hot cereal without salt.

Increase potassium intake

Just as sodium raises your blood pressure, potassium can lower it³. Unless you have a kidney problem, which means you also need to keep potassium down, choose foods higher in potassium.

There are also commercial salt substitutes that use potassium instead of sodium. However, these are not suitable for cooking because they taste bad when heated.

Here are some foods that are high in potassium:

  1. Bananas

  2. Potatoes 

  3. Winter squash such as acorn and butternut

  4. Cantaloupe

  5. Oranges and orange juice

  6. Coconut water is also isotonic. Drink it after exercise instead of sugary sports drinks.

  7. Dried fruits

  8. Beans and lentils

  9. Spinach

  10. Broccoli

  11. Beet greens

  12. Avocado

  13. Tomatoes (just watch for added sodium in tomato products)

  14. Milk

  15. Plant milk such as soy and almond

  16. Yogurt

  17. Cashews and almonds

  18. Chicken

  19. Salmon

Potassium is found in many foods, so it should be easy to get enough if you follow a varied and balanced diet.

Reduce added sugar

Insulin levels affect blood pressure, which is one reason why high blood pressure can occur with diabetes.

Unfortunately, our diets are often packed with sugar, and it’s usually in items you wouldn’t expect, like bread. Here are some great ways to reduce added sugar⁴.

Avoid drinking soda and other sweetened drinks

Cut down on or completely avoid all types of soda. Regular soda has a lot of added sugar in it.

Diet soda contains artificial sweeteners that have been linked to diabetes factors⁵ and alter the gut microbes⁶. Lemon water can be a good option if you find it hard to drink just plain water.

You can drink coconut water during or after exercise instead of sports drinks. If you really prefer drinking juice, look for variants with no added sugar or marked as “100% juice.” You can invest in a juicer and make your own to make sure you know what you’re drinking.

If you like your tea or coffee sweet, train yourself to use less sugar; for example, just put one teaspoon instead of two and gradually reduce the amount until you can completely stop consuming sugar. Do note that it’s recommended for you to limit all caffeine intake if you suffer from hypertension. 

Eat fewer sugary desserts or snacks

Avoid eating candy. You can eat fruit for dessert instead of cookies or cakes, as whole fruit has been shown to lower blood pressure. Save those sweet baked goods for an occasional treat.

Eat unsweetened oatmeal or granola with fruit for breakfast. Avoid other highly sugared and processed cereals.

If you love yogurt, choose the plain ones rather than the flavored ones. If you find it too bland, mix in some fruit, especially fruits low in natural sugar, such as berries.

Check the ingredients of everything you eat for added sugar. Make sure to check for its other names, like high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, glucose, honey, invert sugar, lactose, malt syrup, brown sugar, maltose, molasses, sucrose, raw sugar, trehalose, or turbinado. All of these are sugars, and sometimes you will find these things in foods that don’t taste sweet.

Working with a nutritionist can help you develop a sustainable diet that supports your blood pressure without making you feel deprived.

Maintain a healthy weight

Exercise and nutrition will go a long way toward keeping your weight healthy.

Keeping your weight down reduces the strain on your heart, which lowers your blood pressure. Choose a diet that includes a variety of natural and non-processed foods, a diet that is not extremely restrictive, is sustainable, and addresses your main health issues. 

Manage stress

Chronic stress can increase the risk of high blood pressure. You should take steps to reduce stress in your life.

Home monitoring can help you identify specific situations that tend to spike your blood pressure so that you can work on avoiding them or coping with them better.

Other than exercise, here are some healthy ways to ease your stress:

Practice relaxation techniques

There are many ways to relax, so try them out until you find the one that works for you. Progressive muscle relaxation, mindfulness meditation, and breathing exercises can all help. Most of these techniques can be learned online for free.

Manage your time better

Improve your time management skills so you feel less overwhelmed by all the things you need to do. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you have too much on your plate.

Set aside time for self-care

Reserve time for self-care. There’s a variety of activities that emphasize taking care of yourself, whether it’s taking a warm bath, enjoying a cup of hot cocoa, or watching an episode of your favorite show.

You can also go to a counseling session every now and then. There is no shame in needing to talk to a therapist as they can help you come up with techniques you might not have thought of to handle your stress better.

Choose activities that support your values

Living by your values significantly reduces stress. Also, choose people who share your values. If you feel stressed around certain people, examine why. 

Set realistic expectations

A big source of stress is our sometimes unrealistic expectations of ourselves. Setting realistic expectations means acknowledging both our strengths and limitations. Don’t try to do everything yourself; be aware of and set boundaries.

Reduce alcohol consumption

 If you have hypertension, it is best to avoid drinking alcohol or limit it to specific occasions and in moderation. Drinking alcohol raises blood pressure⁷. A moderate amount that you can occasionally consume should not exceed two drinks in one day for men and one for women.

Don’t forget, too, that alcoholic drinks can have a lot of calories in them, especially if you drink darker beers, wine, or cocktails with high sugar mixers. Alcohol contains empty calories; there is no nutritional value. All it does is contribute to weight gain, and consequently, worsen your blood pressure.

Your doctor may tell you to stop drinking altogether if it might interact with your medications, or not to drink within a certain time of taking them.

Alcohol late at night can also affect your ability to sleep, which can impact your blood pressure.

Reduce caffeine consumption

While many people can drink coffee with no issue, caffeine can spike the blood pressure of people with hypertension⁸. However, studies are still not conclusive⁹ as to whether caffeine has a longer-term impact on blood pressure in people with hypertension.

It’s best to keep your consumption of caffeine moderate or, ideally, cut it out altogether. This is particularly true if you are having difficulty controlling your blood pressure.

Get enough sleep

Sleep is vital to health, and lack of sleep could have an impact on your blood pressure¹⁰. Make sure you are getting the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep daily. Some people need a little more and others a little less.

If you have sleep issues, such as insomnia, talk to your doctor. Practice a good sleep regimen such as turning off electronics half an hour before bed, not reading in bed, and keeping your bedroom dark and slightly cool.

Shift workers often have particular issues getting enough sleep; getting the advice of a sleep specialist can help. If you are waking up a lot during the night or not feeling rested in the morning, especially if you are older, overweight, and male, you might want to get a sleep study to check for sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is often associated with high blood pressure.

Drink enough water

A lot of us don’t hydrate sufficiently. When you are dehydrated, your blood vessels tighten up to save water. This can elevate your blood pressure.

The best liquid to drink is plain water, but try lemon water or sparkling water if you struggle to drink enough of it. Don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink, as that is usually a sign of being dehydrated.

Make sure to sip water regularly in small amounts to keep an optimum hydration level without over-drinking or diluting the nutrients in your body. Drinking a glass of water before meals can also help control your weight by encouraging you to eat smaller portions.

Manage anger

A study from 2002¹¹ showed that medical students who became angry under stress were more likely to develop premature heart disease. Another study¹² suggested that those who do not express their anger, especially when they have low coping behavior, may have an increased risk of high blood pressure.

Learning coping mechanisms to help control your temper can improve your overall relationships with others, especially in intimate relationships. 

Anger can be managed with relaxation techniques, learning how to deal with hard problems better, and improved communication. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a particularly useful tool for managing anger if you can’t do it on your own. A lot of the same techniques that manage stress can also help with anger management.

Lead a healthy social life

It is not clear why loneliness appears to raise blood pressure¹³.

If you are feeling lonely and isolated, take steps to address it. Also, if you have an older relative who appears to be isolated, help them.

Some people, of course, are happier in solitude. Loneliness is more about wanting more social connections than you have.

The first step to fixing this is to acknowledge that you are lonely¹⁴. Some things you can do to reduce loneliness include the following:

Volunteer

This can be especially valuable if you are retired and miss the companionship you had with coworkers. Find a cause you like that could use some help.

Volunteering doesn’t only make you feel good about contributing something to society, it also gives you an opportunity to connect with like-minded people.

Get a pet

Adopt a pet you can feel a connection with if you can afford to take on the responsibility. Cats are low maintenance and provide great comfort. Dogs can remind you to go for walks and get some exercise. Pet owners also tend to talk to each other, which can improve social interactions in general.

If it’s not possible to get a pet, hang out at a friend’s house who has pets, offer to pet sit for them when they’re traveling, or volunteer at an animal shelter. 

Take up a new hobby

Take up a hobby that involves other people. Join a book club, sign up for an art class, or enroll in dance lessons.

Clubs and classes are a friendship shortcut; they make sure the people you are interacting with already have at least one interest in common with you. This makes it a lot easier to take the social risk of reaching out to someone new, especially if you tend to be shy.

Reach out to friends

Instead of waiting to be contacted, reach out to your friends, especially those you haven’t spoken to in a while. While it’s not always possible to rekindle old relationships, it is always worth a try

Book a counseling session

A therapist can also help you overcome loneliness by listening, helping you come to terms with your loneliness, and working with you on personalized solutions.

The lowdown

If you have high blood pressure, you should be working with your doctor to help lower it. Lifestyle changes and natural methods can improve your control over your blood pressure and may reduce or even eliminate your need for medications. Exercising more and eating a better diet will also help all aspects of your health.

If you have a family history of high blood pressure, keeping your sodium and sugar intake under control, managing stress, and exercising, among others, can prevent high blood pressure from developing in the first place.

Have you considered clinical trials for High blood pressure?

We make it easy for you to participate in a clinical trial for High blood pressure, and get access to the latest treatments not yet widely available - and be a part of finding a cure.

Joining community groups and exercise programs for my condition made me feel empowered – but I want to be part of finding a cure.
Peter, 64


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