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High blood pressure is one of the major health concerns worldwide but happens to be the #1 cause of death in the Dominican Republic and chances are that one out of three of you reading this has it. Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the artery walls as the heart pumps out blood. If this pressure rises and stays high it can cause severe damage to the body including coronary heart disease, heart failure, kidney failure and stroke. It is usually caused by a combination of: being overweight, lack of physical activity, tobacco use, high sodium intake, low potassium intake, stress, alcohol consumption, age and family history. The good news is that over 85% of those with high blood pressure can lower it with nothing but lifestyle modifications!
High blood pressure is generally diagnosed as over 120/80 and medications are typically handed out like candy. The most important thing to remember is that these medications don’t change, modify or address the underlying cause of the problem, so instead of healing the wound you’re just covering it up with a band aid. Some simple ways to lower blood pressure include:
- Exercise. A regular exercise routine that consists of aerobics, strength training and sprint bursts. For maximum benefits you’ll need to move your body for 1 hour every day. Remember to start slowly and work your way up.
- Avoid foods that boost insulin such as sugars and grains, be aware that even whole grains rapidly break down to sugar and cause a peak in insulin levels. Avoid food such as bread, pasta, potatoes, rice and cereal and cut out sugary fruits and stick with berries, pears and apples.
- Reduce your stress. Try deep breathing, yoga, getting a massage, praying or whatever you’re comfortable with. Exercise is also a great stress reducer so you can kill two birds with one stone.
- Balance your Omega 6 to Omega 3 fat ratio. The appropriate ratio is 1:1. Over consumption of Omega-6 fats to Omega 3 fats can cause an overproduction of inflammation producing prostaglandins and a reduced production of anti-inflammatory prostaglandins which can lead to a variety of health problems. Omega 6 fats are the primary oil used in processed foods and is also commonly found in cooking oils such as sunflower, safflower, cotton, cottonseed, and soybean oils. So you’ll want to eliminate or drastically reduce all processed and fried foods in your diet and stick with a natural, whole foods diet.
Following these guidelines will not only help you lower your blood pressure but will also increase your overall health and vitality, so you have nothing to loose and everything to gain.
by Jacqueline M. Banks.