Every moment of your life, your heart pumps oxygen-rich blood throughout your system, nourishing muscles and pulling toxins out of your body. But what happens when there’s a bit of traffic in your veins and arteries? When the space in your circulatory system’s highways just isn’t wide enough to fit all the blood that’s trying to get through?
The short answer is that you get hypertension or high blood pressure. And if you’re one of the 108 million people in the United States who struggles with this condition, you know it can cause problems. If this is you, our tips for combatting high blood pressure are here to help.
Watch Your Diet
What we put in our bodies directly impacts our blood pressure. The question is whether the food and drinks you’re consuming will help or hinder the situation. Foods that will increase your blood pressure include:
- Foods that are high in sodium
- Foods that are high in sugar
- Refined carbohydrates
Foods that will help your blood pressure include:
- Potassium-rich foods
- Dark chocolate
- High-protein foods
- Fresh garlic
- Citrus fruits
- Beans and lentils
Keep in mind that the higher your body weight index, the harder your heart has to work to get blood to your body. That increases blood pressure. Picking healthy foods that keep your waistline trimmed is one of the easiest ways to fight high blood pressure.
You’d think that purposefully raising your heart rate for an hour at the gym would make high blood pressure worse instead of better. Exercising makes our heart stronger, so it pumps more blood with less effort when we exercise. This puts less strain on our arteries and keeps our blood pressure lower.
Stress is a result of our “fight or flight” instincts kicking in. The hormone cortisol enters our system, our heart rate rises, and our blood vessels constrict. In other words: it creates the perfect storm for high blood pressure. And the longer you’re stressed, the worse off your blood pressure is.
It’s easy to think of stress as our inescapable “default.” But it’s important to acknowledge when we’re stressed and to identify its causes. Look at the matters that can be controlled and let go of the ones that can’t. Then take the time to do the things that relax you or bring you joy. Enjoy the hypertension-busting benefits of massage, take part in a hobby, or take just a few minutes to meditate, pray, or rest.