By Dr. Divya Mandial | 13th Feb 2023
Blood pressure that is consistently higher than the normal range is considered high blood pressure or hypertension. Ideally, systolic blood pressure, or the pressure in arteries when the heart beats, should be less than 120 mm Hg, and normal diastolic blood pressure, or the pressure in arteries when the heart rests, should be less than 80 mm Hg, together displayed as 120/80 mm Hg. However, a sedentary lifestyle, poor eating habits, obesity, too much alcohol, and your family’s history can make you prone to high blood pressure.
Hypertension is a huge risk factor for heart conditions such as coronary heart disease, heart failure, stroke, myocardial infarction, atrial fibrillation, peripheral artery disease, chronic kidney disease, and cognitive impairment.
Not many people can reach normal blood pressure despite using anti-hypertensive medicines to lower blood pressure. Therefore hypertensives need to make a few alterations in their lifestyles and eating habits along with medications to maintain normal blood pressure.
Salt is the key ingredient used in kitchens, and it contains sodium, a major risk factor for high blood pressure. WHO recommends a salt intake of 5 gm daily to lower your blood pressure. While in India, salt usage exceeds 11 gm in a day.
Increased sodium consumption increases water retention in the body, increasing blood flow in arterial vessels, raising your blood pressure.
Increased sodium intake also stiffens the heart’s blood vessels and makes it difficult for the heart to pump out blood to different organs. It also makes it harder for the kidneys to eliminate excess water from the body. It leads to increased blood pressure.
High salt intake is also responsible for the change in gut microbiota composition, which develops salt-sensitive hypertension.2
Reduced sodium intake not only reduces blood pressure levels and hypertension incidence but also reduces the risk of cardiovascular problems.
Therefore, it’s recommended to replace your regular salt with a salt that contains low sodium and high potassium content. For that, Himalayan black salt or kala namak is the best option because that contains the least sodium but is rich in minerals.
Olive oil contains polyphenols that exhibit vasoprotective effects on blood pressure. Regular olive oil intake can effectively reduce systolic and diastolic blood pressure in patients with high blood pressure.3
Olive oil is also high in Omega 3 fatty acids and omega 9 fatty acids and low in Saturated and monounsaturated fats, making it the best option for cooking oil.
Excess body weight creates hormonal imbalance and increases the activity of the sympathetic nervous system and kidneys. It also reduces natriuretic peptides in the body that are responsible for cardiovascular functioning. These factors are collectively responsible for obesity-related Hypertension.
Even a 1 kg reduction in body weight can decrease your risk of hypertension. Ideally, men should maintain a waist below 40 inches, and women maintain a waist below 35 inches to prevent the risk of high blood pressure.
DASH or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension is a diet designed specifically for high blood pressure patients. This diet recommends food items rich in potassium, calcium, and magnesium to help lower blood pressure.
DASH diet consists of fresh food items such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy items, fish, poultry, beans, and nuts. It limits your intake of sodium to 1500 mg in a day. It also cuts saturated fat, full-fat dairy products, processed food, and added sugars from your diet.
Gut microbiota also regulates low blood pressure. It releases nitric oxide, which exhibits vasodilatory effects to reduce high blood pressure. Including prebiotics and probiotics food in the diet will help improve blood pressure by improving endothelial dysfunction and reducing blood sugar levels and insulin resistance.
Therefore, including prebiotics, probiotics, and postbiotics in diet are the new anti-hypertensive strategies that are gaining popularity for the treatment of hypertension.
During anxiety, our body releases the stress hormone cortisol. This hormone triggers the heart rate and constricts the blood vessels in the heart, which increases blood pressure. Anxiety can also make you susceptible to binge eating disorder or stress eating that indirectly increases your blood pressure.
However, anxiety-induced hypertension is temporary and resolves after the anxiety attack. But frequent anxiety attacks can permanently damage the heart, kidneys, and blood vessels as long-term hypertension. Therefore, it is good to control anxiety with lifestyle changes, including physical activities, better sleep, a healthy diet, limiting alcohol, and yoga and mindfulness therapies.
People who regularly take caffeine through coffee, or caffeinated beverages tend to develop caffeine tolerance. However, if you are a non-caffeine drinker or frequently take caffeine, you can experience a mild to moderate increase in your blood pressure over a cup of coffee. This increase is temporary and gets back to normal after a few hours.
A moderate amount of caffeine in coffee helps boost energy levels, promotes weight loss, and lowers the risk of depression and liver diseases. Having 400 mg of caffeine per day is considered safe for the heart. While exceeding 6000 mg of caffeine in a day can cause caffeine toxicity.
Disclaimer: The information given in this article is true to our best knowledge. Still, we recommend that you consult your doctor before taking any diet or treatment for hypertension mentioned in this article.
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