Is Salt The Only Thing To Avoid For High Blood Pressure?
Most of us know that sodium can cause high blood pressure. The effect of sodium on blood pressure varies among many, however it is important to limit sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg per day or less. However, if one is highly sensitive to sodium, than the amount should be less than 1,500 mg. per day or less. Reducing sodium by just a little bit can reduce blood pressure by 2-8 mmHg.
The best way to reduce sodium in your daily diet is to read labels, choose fewer processed foods and choose lower-sodium options when available. Do NOT add salt to foods or meals and instead use herbs and spices for flavor. Your palate will adjust over time if you cut back on sodium gradually.
However, salt is not the only thing you need to cut back on to avoid high blood pressure. Take a look at the following list of other things you can do:
Limit Alcohol Intake
While alcohol can help lower blood pressure by 2-4 mmHg in small amounts, too much can be harmful. Generally, the guidelines are one drink per day for women and no more than 2 drinks per day for men. One drink is equal to 5 ounces of wine, 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor and 12 ounces of beer. Drinking more than moderate amounts of any alcohol can raise blood pressure by several points and reduce the effectiveness of any medication for blood pressure.
It is known as the Dietary Approaches To STOP Hypertension and includes a diet that is rich in fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products. Avoid too much saturated fat and cholesterol. Eating more fruits and vegetables will naturally increase your potassium levels that can also lessen the effects of sodium on blood pressure.
Keep A Food Journal
Before you moan and groan, you should know that it really can be your friend like you are writing in a diary. It will help you monitor what you are eating, why and how much. Make note of how you are feeling before or after a meal or food because it might be time to find a healthy alternative. Keeping a journal helps make you aware of any food that might be too high in sodium.
Read Food Labels
This is probably one of the most important strategies you can do to lower blood pressure. Any food with a label is usually processed and full of sodium, artificial sweeteners, sugar, preservatives, fillers and additives, all of which can raise blood pressure. Eliminate that food and find a whole food alternative that will not raise blood pressure.
Cut Back On Caffeine
This debate continues on as to whether caffeine raises blood pressure significantly enough, especially in habitual coffee drinkers. You can find out by checking your blood pressure within thirty minutes of drinking a beverage with caffeine. If you notice an increase of 5-10 mmHg, you may be sensitive to the effects of caffeine, especially if you have high blood pressure.
Reduce Stress Levels
Chronic stress contributes to high blood pressure especially if your response to stress is to drink alcohol or eat unhealthy foods. Take some time to figure out what is causing your stress and see what you can do to eliminate it or reduce stressful situations in your life. We are all exposed to stress and sometimes we need to find healthier ways to cope with them such as:
- Learning to say “No”
- Accepting things you can’t change
- Changing expectations
- Make a plan to solve a problem
- Know your ‘triggers’ of stress
- Practice an attitude of gratitude
- Take time to relax
Find A Way To Exercise Daily
Regular exercise is one of the best ways to keep blood pressure low. Find an activity you enjoy and will look forward to. It can be something simple as walking every day. All you need are good walking shoes.
Monitor your blood pressure at home and make sure that the lifestyle changes you are making is having an impact on your blood pressure. Many grocery stores and pharmacies offer blood pressure stations where you can check your blood pressure easily. Ask for support from your family and friends and see your doctor if you find that your blood pressure is not being well controlled.