Tips to Prevent Hypertension

alcohol Apr 30, 2019

Introduction

Hypertension is a significant risk factor for coronary artery disease and stroke, a leading cause of death and disability worldwide which also exerts a staggering burden on human quality of life and health care system resources via contribution to increased mortality and risk of cardiovascular diseases such as myocardial infarction, angina pectoris, heart failure, and stroke. Even a small downward shift in the distribution of blood pressure in the general population could have a substantial impact on the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Almost one-quarter of the world’s adult population is suffering from hypertension which totals to nearly one billion. The worldwide prevalence of hypertension is expected to increase by 60% by 2025. Hence, the primary prevention of hypertension has become a global public health challenge.

Tips to prevent Hypertension

Any modification done in your lifestyle should be with prior consultation of your health care provider. Let us look at some of the tips that might help you in controlling or preventing hypertension with respect to lifestyle interventions.

Lose weight

One of the most effective means of reducing elevated blood pressure is to lose extra weight. Being overweight is very closely connected to hypertension, especially if your body mass index (BMI) is 25 or more. Further, excess upper body fat is also associated with hypertension, diabetes, increased blood lipid levels, and coronary heart disease.

Tips for Weight Loss:

  • Try to maintain a food diary to track exactly what and how much you eat.
  • Choose wisely food that is low in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, and refined sugar.
  • Try to consume at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily. But avoid consumption of juice and canned fruit as they are usually high in sugar content and thus may add more calories to your diet.
  • Keep an eye on your portion sizes as well. For example, one-quarter of your plate should consist of lean protein, i.e. palm size portion, another quarter should consist of unrefined grain, i.e. fist size portion and one half of the plate should be filled with a variety of colorful vegetables.
  • Never skip your meals. You should consume three meals a day, in addition to snacks which is also an essential tip for weight management.
  • Also, keep a note of your fiber content. You should consume around 25 to 30 g of fiber each day. For that, you can add whole grain, high fiber bread, and cereals, whole wheat pasta, and rice, more of dried beans to your meals. Fiber will help to fill up your stomach faster which will help you to eat less and curb your hunger. Also, soluble fiber can help lower your blood cholesterol levels.
  • Try to eat the majority of your calories in the first half of the day along with portion controlled snacks in order to control hunger at night.
  • Drink plenty of water. Try to include about 6 to 8 glasses of fluid daily. Water will help you to keep hydrated and also helps in preventing overeating.
  • You should set realistic goals. Weight loss should be gradual.

You can always consult a registered and qualified dietitian who can help you evaluate your current eating habits and recommend strategies to help you plan your weight loss.

Limit Alcohol Intake

Drinking too much alcohol can increase hypertension and will also make it difficult to treat high blood pressure. If you are suffering from hypertension, you should limit your alcohol intake to no more than two alcoholic drinks per day.

Read Nutrition Labels

While doing your grocery shopping, you should be active and alert while choosing processed foods and avoid choosing high sodium foods. This can be achieved by reading the nutrition labels carefully. It is rightly said that it is very difficult to lower your dietary sodium content without reading labels, however, it can be done only if you prepare all of the food consumed by you. The American Heart Association have listed salty six common foods where a high amount of sodium may be lurking: bread and rolls, cold cuts and cured meats, pizza, poultry, soup, and sandwiches.

Exercise Regularly

You should always engage yourself in some sort of physical activity exercise which will definitely make a difference in your health. Exercise is one of the best things you can do to lower your hypertension.

Regular exercise helps to

  • Make your heart stronger and more efficient at pumping blood which in turn will lower the pressure on your arteries
  • Lose weight or maintain an ideal weight
  • Manage diabetes
  • Manage stress
  • Improve blood cholesterol levels
  • Increase your energy levels to carry out daily activities.

Try to aim for at least half an hour five days a week. You can do some kind of dancing or biking or cycling or taking brisk walks or running or any other activity which you would love to do.

Limit Sodium (Salt) Intake

Controlling and limiting the amount of sodium in the diet can lower hypertension. The intake of sodium should be limited to not more than 2400 mg per day and further set a goal of lowering it to 1500 mg per day. The sodium is mostly found in table salt and many other foods that are consumed such as preserved foods, canned foods, cheese, snacks, and luncheon meats.

Tips to limit sodium intake:

  • As discussed earlier, read the nutrition labels carefully to determine the sodium content. Also, make a habit to read over-the-counter medication labels for sodium content.
  • To add flavor to your foods, use herbs and spices and limit salt.
  • Avoid eating processed foods such as canned and frozen foods, cheese, and luncheon meats.

Increase Intake of Potassium Rich Foods

Potassium is an important mineral. The main function is to help the body to get rid of sodium and ease pressure on your blood vessels. Lower blood potassium levels will also increase the risk of hypertension. Therefore, include potassium-rich foods in your diet which may help to manage high blood pressure. High potassium foods include salt substitutes, bananas, dried fruits, skim milk, coffee, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, and potatoes.

Manage Stress

Stress is an important contributing factor for high blood pressure. When you are in stress, your body is in a constant fight or flight mode. This indicates that there are a faster heart rate and constricted blood vessels. Further, when in stress, you tend to engage yourself in other behaviors and actions such as drinking alcohol, consuming unhealthy foods which will also negatively affect your blood pressure levels. Studies have reported that reducing stress can help lower blood pressure. You can reduce your stress by listening to soothing music which will help to relax your nervous system.

Quit Smoking

One of the habits is also a strong risk factor for heart disease. Since both smoking and high blood pressure increases the risk of heart disease quitting smoking can help reverse the risk.

Consume Calcium-Rich Foods

People with low calcium intake often suffer from hypertension. Diet rich in calcium is linked to healthy blood pressure levels. You can get calcium through dark green leafy vegetables and tofu as well as dairy products.

Take Medications for Hypertension as Prescribed

Your doctor may prescribe some medications to help to achieve your blood pressure goals after proper examination and analyzing other risk factors. You should follow your doctor’s advice about medications.

Conclusion

Hypertension affects a large proportion of the world population. While medications are one way to treat the condition, there are other natural techniques as well that can help. Controlling your blood pressure through the tips mentioned in this article might help you to lower the risk of heart disease.

Stay Fit, Healthy, and Happy!!!

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3901083/pdf/nihms526172.pdf
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5575221/pdf/AMS-13-30182.pdf
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4366416/
  4. https://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/healthy_living.htm
  5. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/6-simple-tips-to-reduce-your-blood-pressure
  6. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/17512-hypertension-strategies-to-control-it
  7. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318716.php
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2991739/pdf/bjgp60-879.pdf
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279237/?report=printable

Neha Saini

Hi, I am Dr. Neha Lohia Saini. I am a nutritionist. Blogging is my passion as I love writing and share my knowledge about food and nutrition. I have completed my Ph.D. in Food Science and Nutrition f

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