Blood pressure is a measure of the amount of force that blood in circulation exerts upon the walls of blood vessels. The most common disorders associated with blood pressure include hypertension, or high blood pressure, and hypotension, or low blood pressure. Both conditions produce a different set of ailments and symptoms, each of which can cause other issues. Fortunately, hypertension and hypotension can be treated to a great extent through lifestyle changes alone. Here are some tips on how you can keep your blood pressure in check without letting it rise too high or drop too low.
Sodium consumption is the biggest factor when it comes to blood pressure in the body. The amount of sodium in the body impacts the ability of the kidney to expel excess water from the body via the bladder. When higher amounts of sodium are present, the kidney is unable to extract all excess fluid. This leads to higher retention of fluid in the body which then adds extra strain upon blood vessel responsible for circulation in the body. Thus, high sodium intake leads to high blood pressure; those vulnerable to the latter condition should minimize consumption of salty food. Conversely, those prone to hypotension may wish to add salty foods to their diet, especially when symptoms manifest.
Apart from the sodium content in your diet, the kind of food you eat in general also impacts your blood pressure. For those with both hypertension and hypotension, a balanced diet that has suitable quantities of macronutrients can be very curative. Eating complex carbohydrate, lean protein and ample fruits and vegetables are recommended. Saturated fats and cholesterol-rich foods need to be avoided.
Alcohol has a dehydrating effect on the body, which lowers the amount of fluid it retains (to a certain extent). Therefore, if it's consumed in small quantities, it may lower your blood pressure, hence making it unsuitable if you have hypotension. For those suffering from hypertension, high levels of consumption undo the blood-pressure-lowering effect of alcohol and may, in fact, cause a spike. It also neutralizes the effect of hypertension medication, putting patients at higher risk of blood pressure rising. Therefore, patients with either kind of blood pressure disorder should limit their alcohol intake — no more than one drink a day.
Physical exercise should ideally be a part of everyone's daily routine. However, those with high or low blood pressure definitely benefit from indulging in exercise every day. Though blood pressure rises temporarily when you exercise, if you have hypertension, you should do so nonetheless; this is because exercise improves blood circulation, relieves stress and also keeps weight in check — all of which decrease blood pressure. Those with hypotension should try gentler exercises such as yoga and meditation, which increase blood flow and circulation.
Mental stress and anxiety tend to have an impact on blood pressure. Linkages have been found between chronic stress and high blood pressure at a physiological level. Also, stress may impact your dietary habits, fitness routine and so on, thus affecting blood pressure by association, particularly in those with hypertension. Those prone to low blood pressure may suffer from stress-induced fatigue as well, which further compromises circulatory functions. If you suffer from blood pressure fluctuations, you should make an effort to avoid stress and stress triggers. Learning relaxation and destressing techniques can also be helpful when under mental pressure.
One important aspect of maintaining healthy blood pressure levels is being in touch with your physical state at all times, so this means monitoring your blood pressure regularly. Catalog readings on a periodic basis, which will then help you recognize patterns: what triggers fluctuations, how long it takes for blood pressure to lower/rise, and which lifestyle is most conducive to healthy BP level. Regular consultations with your doctor regarding blood pressure is helpful, as they will have a better understanding/record of your condition.
Potassium can counter the effects of excessive sodium consumption to a certain extent. People do not eat enough potassium. So, next time you think you have got high blood pressure, simply eat a banana as it can help those with hypertension. You should aim for 4,700 milligrams of potassium a day.
Chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, when consumed in moderation, may help reduce blood pressure levels. Chocolate contains flavonoids, which may reduce the risk factors for cardiovascular events. However, because it's relatively high in calories, it's a good idea to avoid eating too much of it. Aim for an ounce a day of 50 to 70 percent cocoa chocolate.
Smokers are most susceptible to hypertension as nicotine spikes blood pressure, and tar build up can restrict arteries. Smoking may not itself trigger hypertension in the short term; however additional factors such as lack of exercise as well as alcohol consumption can be responsible for high blood pressure. If you stop smoking, you should see a reduction in blood pressure, and you'll feel better, too.
Studies have proved that people who do not get enough sunlight or suffer vitamin D deficiency suffer from high blood pressure. Inadequate exposure to the sun along with inappropriate diet can be responsible for higher blood pressure levels. Those who do not get enough sun, particularly those in the more northerly climes or on shift work, may benefit from additional vitamin D in their diet.
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