High blood pressure (hypertension) affects up to 1 in 5 New Zealanders.
It is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors, including Nutrition and lifestyle.
A high level of body fat is associated with an increased risk of metabolic diseases, including high blood pressure. Being overweight, obese or having abdominal adiposity (belly fat) increase your risk. Overeating and lack of physical activity are key contributors of weight gain and obesity.
The DASH Diet
A well-researched diet is the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet. The DASH diet includes reducing sodium intake to 1500mg per day and increasing consumption of fresh, unprocessed foods.
The main source of the mineral sodium in the diet is salt (sodium chloride). Reduction in sodium intake can decrease blood pressure. By reducing sodium and consequently blood pressure, someone is decreasing their risk of cardiovascular events (e.g. stroke and heart attack). The reason behind this is that sodium holds onto water, thereby, increasing pressure in the vascular system. The average sodium intake in NZ is 3854mg for men and 3122mg per day for women. This is significantly higher than the RDI for sodium which is 920-2300mg per day for all adults.
Chronic stress may contribute to the development of high blood pressure. There is significantly higher blood pressure among people with a high stress job. Meditation as a method for alleviating stress, has been shown to help.
Both aerobic and resistant training is beneficial for lowering blood pressure. Aerobic exercises are walking, jogging, cycling/spinning, swimming, dancing, aerobics, and many gym classes. Resistant training includes weights, weight machines or bodyweight exercises e.g. bicep curls, bench press, push ups, squats, and lunges.
Cigarette smoking has been shown to be one of the main contributors to preventable high blood pressure. Smoking is a major cause of heart disease, stroke, and is a known cause of death due to cardiovascular disease. The connection between smoking and heart disease/stoke is high blood pressure.
Stop it Before it Starts
Nutrition and lifestyle play a key role, which is important as high blood pressure can lead to coronary heart disease, arrythmias, heart failure, cardiovascular disease, peripheral artery disease, renal failure, stroke, heart attack, and even death.
Check out my blog – High Blood Pressure… is the problem in the letter “S”? Includes Top 10 Tips for High Blood Pressure.
Consult with me for personalised recommendations. Some herbs are hypotensive (reduce blood pressure), vasodilators (dilate blood vessels), circulatory stimulants (stimulate the circulatory system) and blood thinners (thin the blood), which may help to lower blood pressure. A Naturopath can recommend food and prescribe Herbal Medicine individualised to you.
Your Nutrition Mentor,