Normal Blood Pressure – How To Manage And Maintain Healthy Blood Pressure Levels
High blood pressure is a common ailment among the ageing population of New Zealand. The vast majority of people diagnosed with high blood pressure are prescribed medication by their GP to control and manage their condition. However there is a portion of the population that wishes to prevent or control their high blood pressure using lifestyle changes and supplements. Many people wonder if “alternative treatment” for high blood pressure is as effective as a pharmaceutical drugs.
It can also be confusing for even the educated consumer to pull together all of the information to make an informed choice on how to properly manage high blood pressure without the use of prescription drugs.
Before we dive into the various products and lifestyle changes available to help manage blood pressure, let’s do a quick over view of what high blood pressure actually is and how it negatively affects our health. Normal blood pressure is the measurement of the strength of the blood pushed against the vessels as it moves around the body.
High blood pressure occurs for various reasons, the most common of which is atherosclerosis, which occurs when the plaque build-up in the arteries begins to harden and makes the walls of the arteries less elastic. In atherosclerosis, the heart beat does not pump stronger, but because the walls of the arteries are less elastic the blood pressure goes up as the blood gets pushed along with every beat.
There are other causes of high blood pressure such as genetic, environmental factors, alcohol consumption, and chronic disease like kidney failure or diabetes. The good news is that 90-95% of high blood pressure is caused by factors other than genetics, or disease. This means that for most of us with high blood pressure, we can make lifestyle changes and use natural supplements to regain control.
So let’s talk diet and lifestyle. It is recommended by nearly all government funded health organizations that adults do 150 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity a week. This amounts to 2.5 hours weekly. According to the New Zealand Heart Foundation, more than half of the adult population does NO physical exercise daily. There are numerous benefits to exercise, in addition to just lowering blood pressure.
However, for the sake of time and space, we will stick to the relevant topic. Exercise has an extremely positive impact on the heart and blood pressure. Regular exercise fine tunes the hormones and chemical messengers released by the body leading to a lower resting heart rate, more elastic vessels, a decrease in inflammation, and a decrease in stress just to name a few. All of these factors are vital in maintaining normal blood pressure levels.
Eating a healthy balanced diet is next on the list. Reducing sugar is key. Sugar breaks down into many different harmful by products as it gets digested. One of which is uric acid. Not only does uric acid cause gout, but it almost inevitably causes the body to raise its blood pressure. Reducing your sugar intake, or better yet eliminating sugar all together is a necessary step towards reducing high blood pressure and maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system.
Dietary sugar also increases the amount of plaque that deposits between the walls of the arteries. Eliminating sugar is one of the most powerful and effective ways to prevent atherosclerosis and high blood pressure. Eating a diet high in fibre and potassium rich foods is a great way to improve blood pressure as well as overall health.
Most people know that diet and lifestyle changes are imperative for good health, but what can be confusing is out of all the supplements on the market, which ones actually work when it comes to controlling high blood pressure. The first thing to understand is that there is no magic pill.
Blood pressure is a very complex function of the body and taking 1 supplement isn’t going to be enough to lower someone’s blood pressure. To be clear, natural methods of medicine require more involvement from the person and often multiple supplements or nutritional products are used.
General Practitioners generally give out prescription drugs to patients who cannot or will not put in the effort to change their health naturally. However there are far more side effects to prescription drugs in addition to the fact that the underlying reason as to why a person has high blood pressure is often left totally unaddressed.
The first on the list of supplements that help to lower blood pressure is fish oil. Taking 2,000-4,000mg of good quality fish oil a day helps support healthy blood pressure by supporting healthy blood lipid levels and proper blood flow. Magnesium also helps support muscle relaxation throughout the body, including the ones that line the arteries. This naturally results in lower blood pressure by allowing the veins to relax and become more elastic.
The recommended amount of a good quality magnesium supplement is 500mg daily. Co-enzyme Q10 also has been shown in small studies to reduce blood pressure by up to 10% as reported in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. It is not yet clear just how co-enzyme Q10 works to control blood pressure, but it has been suggested to increase the elasticity of the blood vessel walls after taking 100-150mg for at least 4 weeks.
A recently popular weight loss drug, forskolin, has shown promising results to help manage normal blood pressure when 250mg is taken daily. Forskolin increases cellular cAMP, which is a primary component for many functions of the body. With an increase in cAMP the blood vessels relax and which helps to keep blood pressure down. Moving on, Vitamin k2 is also very important for overall heart health.
Vitamin k1 is famous for its role in blood clotting, but many people are unaware of k2. Vitamin k2 is found mostly in high quality fatty foods such as grass fed beef, fatty cuts of animal meats, fermented foods and dairy such as curd, milk and butter from grass fed animals. 90mcg of vitamin k2 daily may help prevent the deposition of cholesterol particles into the arterial walls. By keeping the arteries clean and free from atherosclerosis, the walls remain elastic and don’t harden over time. Last but certainly not least is beetroot juice.
Beetroot juice is high in dietary nitrate. Nitrates act as ‘vasodilators’. This means that they widen the blood vessels to allow blood to flow more freely. A 200-250ml cup of beetroot juice a day may be just as effective as prescribed nitrates in maintaining healthy blood pressure.
There are numerous and complex reasons why our blood vessels would constrict and lose elasticity leading to high blood pressure. This is why it is often necessary to target the problem with more than one approach. Diet, exercise, and a few good supplements will work wonders in helping you to regain your health and keep your heart healthy. If you are concerned about your blood pressure and are reluctant to start or keep using prescription drugs, then a natural approach might be a better option for you.
Even if you opt to use a natural approach, it is still necessary for you to regularly see your doctor and communicate your plan so that you can monitor together whether or not you are making progress in the right direction. Never stop a prescription drug cold turkey.
Always talk to your GP first if you ever wish to make any changes and explore alternatives to pharmaceuticals drugs. If you’re still confused after reading this or you just want some more personalized advice, stop by our store and chat with us. Helping people regain health and giving tips on how to manage their normal blood pressure levels are just some of our passions here at New Zealand Health Food Co.