Can Hypertension be prevented using Natural Ways?

Hypertension or high blood pressure is one of the most common non communicable diseases to affect mankind. It has been diagnosed since times immemorial and also causes complications like heart attack, brain stroke, kidney damage etc. Humanity has always tried to find novel, natural, medication free ways to prevent and treat hypertension. There is good news for persons who have hypertension or who are at an increased risk for hypertension. Research has shown that blood pressure can be lowered by natural ways without using medication.

The National High Blood Pressure Education Programme (program description) Coordination Committee has recommended two types of strategies to reduce blood pressure.

1. A population based approach to lower blood pressure of the community as a whole.
2. A targeted approach for persons who are at risk for high blood pressure.

These strategies have widely been accepted as the best approaches by researchers world wide. The two strategies are complementary to each other and emphasizes on six different approaches that have proven value in lowering your blood pressure levels. These 6 strategies are as under:

1. Engage in moderate physical activity: It is necessary to have some physical activity these days since our lifestyles have become too sedentary in today's world. Physical activity may include brisk walking, jogging, resistance exercises, aerobic exercises, dancing etc. It helps in a number of ways like reducing body weight, increasing our cells sensitivity to insulin, burning calories fast. However, we have to keep certain things in mind while engaging into physical activity.

A) Start low and go slow. Do not over stretch yourself in the beginning. This will prevent injuries.
B) Always wear comfortable clothes and shoes while doing physical activity.
C) Get involved in a variety of physical activities. It helps to make exercise interesting without making it boring.
D) Do warm up activities before and cooling down activities after exercise.

2. Maintain normal body weight: It is highly important to maintain a normal body weight. Obesity is one of the major risk factors for non communicable diseases like hypertension and diabetes. Reduce your weight by maintaining a healthy diet chart, limiting fats intake, regular physical activity. Take short and frequent meals. Include fruits and vegetables in your diet which reduces the craving for carbohydrates and fats.
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3. Limit alcohol consumption: Alcohol is high in calories. The calories present in alcohol do not provide us with usable energy and get accumulated as fat. This increases body weight and chances of hypertension. The maximum recommended intake of alcohol for an average male is 2 drinks per day and for females in 1 drink per day.(what drinking alcohol can do?)

4. Reduce sodium intake: Sodium is the constituent of common salt and a major culprit in causing hypertension. Excess sodium absorbs water, causes increased water overload, puts pressure on the arteries and heart thus causing hypertension. Limit your sodium intake by following means: A) Do not pour salt over your salad or vegetables. Do not add table salt to your meals while cooking. B) Reduce your intake of canned food, frozen food, fast food, pizzas, burgers, sandwiches as they are highly rich in salt. (sodium and hypertension)

5. Maintain adequate intake of potassium: Potassium is a wonderful mineral that counteracts sodium, helps to maintain fluid and electrolyte balance and lowers your blood pressure (Source:American Heart Association). Increase your potassium intake along with calcium, magnesium and other minerals by including a lot of fruits, green leafy vegetables, nuts in your diet. You must have servings of salad containing fruits and vegetables daily. They help to maintain your blood pressure by increasing potassium, reducing sodium and making you feel full so that intake of fats and carbohydrates reduces.

6. Follow diet rich in fruits and vegetables: Consume a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, low fat dairy products and reduced in saturated fats and total cholesterol. As written above, it is recommended to have a lot of these things in your diet. Apart from the benefits mentioned above, these dietary items are a rich source of antioxidants. Antioxidants prevent free radical induced oxidative damage to the blood vessels, prevent their hardening and thus reduce blood pressure.

Thus, by modifying your diet in a very simple and effective way, you can prevent yourself from hypertension and its complications. All you need is to know what to eat and what not, make a diet chart and adhere to it. You will notice that in a short time span, your weight will reduce, body will be more energetic and your blood pressure will go down.

Source: Whelton PK etal. Primary prevention of hypertension. Clinical and public health advisory from the national high blood pressure education program. JAMA, 2002; 288: 1882 1888.

Written By: Dr. Aastha, Mohali, Punjab, India

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Edited by: Rajesh Bihani ( Find me on Google+ )

Disclaimer: The suggestions in the article(wherever applicable) are for informational purposes only. They are not intended as medical or any other type of advice