High blood pressure, or ‘hypertension’, is known as the silent killer.
That’s because you normally don’t realise you have it until it you get it checked at the doctor’s one day.
Hypertension is very common, affecting one third of the population.
What should my numbers be?
According to the research the sweet spot for blood pressure is 120/80.
Due to age and cultural diversity, these numbers can vary, but that is the starting point.
I recommend having your blood pressure checked every 3 months, or even better invest in an automated machine for home.
A good one is pretty cheap and easy to buy.
And you can be proactive with your health by getting one too!
What causes high blood pressure?
In 10% of cases, hypertension is caused by distinct medical conditions such as kidney disease or tumours of the pituitary or adrenal glands.
The other 90% is caused by many different underlying factors.
The most common I see in practice are-
- Poor dietary habits including; excessive refined carbohydrates, proceeded foods, sugar, alcohol, fast foods, and excess caffeine. (some people are more sensitive to the effects of caffeine than others)
- A diet low in plant-based foods, (especially fresh vegetables), that contain the vital nutrients needed for cardiovascular health.
- Stress and anxiety type conditions driving up a person’s state of “fight or flight”.
- Obesity and a sedentary lifestyle, with minimal to no exercise
- Medical conditions that are closely related including, diabetes, heart disease and thyroid conditions.
- A genetic variation in the MTHFR C677T and NOS genes
What is the Best Way to Treat High Blood Pressure?
You need to delve deeply into your health history, family history and lifestyle, to get the best understanding of the factors causing your high blood pressure.
This in turn leads to targeted treatment of the underlying cause, which can keep you healthy and feeling vibrant, letting you live the life you want to.
The other alternative, if you don’t want to fix the underlying causes of your high blood pressure, is to take medication for it.
The major problem with this is that medications cause side effects.
Very often, you start off taking one medication to fix up your blood pressure, but because you haven’t fixed the underlying problem, you end up needing to take a whole bunch of medications to manage side effects, and worsening symptoms.
You become your pharmacist’s best friend, because your deteriorating health keeps them in a job.
Now, whilst medications can be useful and save people’s lives, if you are willing to change your diet and lifestyle early enough, you can very often reduce or eliminate your need for medication.
Which path would you rather walk down?
How to help reduce your blood pressure
1. Eat a whole food diet with plenty of leafy green vegetables, good quality animal protein, oily fish, nuts and seeds. Try adding extra garlic and beetroot to your diet. These foods can have blood pressure lowering effects.
2. Reduce as many processed foods as possible, including breads, wraps, muffins, sugary drinks and limit coffee and caffeinated beverages to 2 per day.
3. Find your Zen and relax. I find everyone has different ways of relaxing so it’s a matter of what works for you to chill out, disconnect from your busy life and stop. As little as 20-30 minutes a day can have positive effects on our blood pressure.
4. Ensure you are getting 7-8 hours of quality sleep.
5. If you are unsure where to start try 5 minutes of deep belly breathing, 10 minutes of guided meditation or a slow walk without distraction, make it a part of your daily routine.
6. Supplements such as magnesium, Coenzyme Q10, Vitamin E and Fish oils have been extensively studied in clinical trials with outcomes equal or better than common blood pressure medications, with little to no side effects.
As you can see, high blood pressure can have many causes and will differ from person to person.
That is why I recommend speaking to your health professional to help find the cause and target treatment according to your individual needs.