Hypertension (hight blood pressure)
By Helen Duffy Naturopathic Nutritional Therapist
While your pulse is a measure of your heart health, your blood pressure tells you about the health of your arteries. Some people think that high blood pressure (hypertension) is just something that will happen to all of us as we get older, this simply doesn't have to be the case. Young people can also suffer from high blood pressure so it's not just an age-related condition. It's all about looking after your arteries so that they are in good condition, not constricted or 'furred up' so that it takes more effort to pump blood through them. Having high blood pressure increases your risk of heart disease, strokes and kidney disease so it's something that is important for us all to take seriously and do something about.
So if you have already been diagnosed with high blood pressure (hypertension) or would like to try and keep your blood pressure at a healthy level what can you do to help yourself?
- • Eat a diet rich in a rainbow of fruit and vegetables. Aim for 8-10 portions every day. 1 portion is approximately 80g or about the size of your fist.
- • Beans and pulses count towards your 8-10 portions of fruit and veg so include beans, chick-peas and lentils as part of your ten. These are high in potassium and rich in isoflavones which can help lower your cholesterol, something that often goes hand in hand with high blood pressure.
- • Raw unsalted nuts are a great snack for taking to work. Measure out a daily portion (40-50g) and keep in a sealed pot as it's easy to indulge if you leave the whole bag on your desk! Walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts are high in beneficial fats and vitamin E, known to naturally thin the blood.
- • Celery and bananas are rich in potassium which is important for lowering blood pressure. Aim for 4 stalks of celery every day and no more than 1 banana.
- • Garlic and onions contain allicin which helps to relax and dilate blood vessels. After crushing or chopping garlic, leave it to rest on the chopping board to allow allicin levels to develop fully before adding it to your cooking at the last minute, or better still, eating raw.
- • Magnesium helps to relax muscles and dilates the arteries. It's often low in people who are under stress and suffering from high blood pressure. Magnesium is found in green leafy vegetables, wholegrains, nuts, seeds and dark chocolate (enjoy in moderation, of course :-) ).
- • For seasoning instead of salt, try Herbamare, available from Health Food Shops, which is a combination of herbs and sea salt to add lots of flavour.
This may seem like a lot so lets see how this could be achieved:
- ◦ Breakfast smoothie – spinach, avocado, banana, coconut milk, ground flaxseed
- ◦ Mid morning snack – carrot and celery sticks, hummus, blueberries
- ◦ Lunch – chicken salad with rocket, watercress, peppers, radish, tomatoes, cucumber, walnuts and a baked sweet potato
- ◦ Mid afternoon snack – apple slices topped with almond butter
- ◦ Evening meal – baked salmon with roast root vegetables, broccoli and brown rice.
Think of changes you could make to your lifestyle:
- • If you are a smoker, look for support to help you quit. Hypnotherapy can be a very effective tool. Why not have a chat with Sally, our hypnotherapist here at Acorn.
- • Find a relaxation method that you enjoy. We have lots to offer at Acorn: yoga, mindfulness, massage, aromatherapy, reflexology.
- • Get outdoors and exercise: walking briskly for just 20-30 minutes every day is an achievable goal for most people and walking in nature is great for reducing stress. Get yourself a dog or borrow a friends!
- • Take some time every day to breathe deeply. Place your hands on your stomach and feel it moving slowly in and out as you slowly count, in for 5, out for 5.
If you are currently taking medication, please talk to your doctor if you are thinking of making any changes to your diet or lifestyle.
If you would like to find out more about how you can use nutritional therapy to help improve your health, then please contact me at Acorn for a FREE 15 minute chat or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can book online by clicking hereNutritional Therapy at Acorn Natural Health Centre