DIET AND LIFESTYLE TIPS TO MANAGE OR PREVENT HYPERTENSION
Hypertension means High blood pressure. Our tissues and organs need oxygen and nutrition to survive. It is provided by the blood flowing through the circulatory system of our body. It includes Heart, Blood vessels, etc. When the heart beats, it creates pressure that pushes blood through a blood vessels network, including arteries, veins and capillaries. While flowing through these blood vessels, blood exerts the pressure on their walls, measured as blood pressure. This pressure (blood pressure) results from two forces: The first force (systolic pressure) occurs when the heart pumps out the blood into the arteries that are part of the circulatory system. The second force (diastolic pressure) is created when the heart rests between heartbeats. That is why blood pressure measurement always has two values one is upper (Systolic) & one is lower (Diastolic).
The Normal range of Blood pressure is:
· Upper Level (Systolic)- Approx. around 120 mm Hg
· Lower Level (Diastolic)- Approx. around 80 mm Hg
Those who are at risk of suffering from Hypertension (Having risk factors) should regularly monitor their blood pressure. The mild fluctuations in the blood pressure from the normal range mentioned above can happen during exertion, exercise, emotional state, diseases, etc., which can be usually temporary. It can come down to normal as soon as the underlying condition is corrected. When the blood pressure remains persistently elevated, e.g. [Above 140 mm Hg for Systolic (Upper level) and 90 mm Hg for Diastolic (Lower level)], one should consult his/her Doctor/Family physician to get himself checked for the Hypertension.
RISK FACTORS FOR DEVELOPING HYPERTENSION?
- AGE: The risk of suffering from High blood pressure increases with an increase in age.
- GENDER: Problem of High blood pressure is common in males up to 64 years compared to females. After the age of 65, the risk is approximately equal in both the genders.
- FAMILY HISTORY: Risk increases when the other family members are also suffering from high blood pressure, e.g. Father, Mother, Brother, etc.)
- BEING OVERWEIGHT OR OBESE: More the weight more is the body fat in an obese individual. It increases the amount of blood required to supply oxygen and nutrients to the tissues. The volume of blood circulating through the blood vessels also increases. It makes the heart pump harder and also increases the pressure on the walls of the blood vessels, which means an increase in the blood pressure.
- SEDENTARY LIFESTYLE (NOT BEING ACTIVE): Being physically inactive increases the risk of Obesity and subsequent rise in blood pressure. It also increases our heart rate; thus, the heart has to work harder. It increases the strength of the force of the blood flowing through the blood vessels, thus increase the risk of Hypertension.
- TOBACCO CONSUMPTION AND OR SMOKING: The tobacco chewing or smoking releases toxic chemicals in our body. These chemicals can damage the inner walls of the blood vessels and make their lumen narrow. The blood has to flow with an increased force through these narrowed vessels. It leads to an increase in blood pressure. It does not happen immediately but develops over a while.
- TOO MUCH SALT (SODIUM) IN THE DIET: Too much salt intake increases the sodium levels in the body. Excess sodium leads to increased water retention, which increases the volume of blood flowing through the blood vessels. More the volume of blood flowing, more is the pressure on the blood vessels’ walls, thus higher is the blood pressure.
- TOO LITTLE POTASSIUM IN THE DIET: Potassium helps in balancing the amount of sodium in our body. Insufficient potassium intake leads to an increase in the levels of sodium within the body, thus increases the risk of Hypertension. (Excess intake of potassium can also be harmful to those suffering from associated kidney diseases. Therefore it is advisable to consult a physician/doctor before increasing the potassium intake in the diet.)
- CHRONIC STRESS: During a stressful situation, our body releases some specific hormones (adrenaline and cortisol) into the blood. These hormones prepare the body for combating in a stressful situation. It Increases the heart rate (Rate of pumping of the blood) and narrows down the lumen of the blood vessels. Blood flowing at a higher rate through narrow blood vessels increases the blood pressure temporarily. But when the stressful situation persists for a long time, it increases the risk of Hypertension.
- LOW VITAMIN D LEVELS: According to some research and studies, having low Vitamin-D levels is associated with increased risk of developing High blood pressure (Hypertension).
- UNHEALTHY DIET (EXCESS INTAKE OF PROCESSED, DEEP FRIED, JUNK FOODS): Excess consumption of deep-fried, processed and junk food is associated with risk of Obesity and subsequent risk of High blood pressure. Also, there is a lot of unhealthy fat (Trans-fat) used in making these food products, which increase the levels of bad cholesterol (LDL and Triglycerides) in our blood. It can create blockages within the blood vessel, obstructing the flow of blood through them, thus increasing the blood pressure. It also contains a very high amount of salt (Sodium), and excess sodium is also a risk factor for developing Hypertension.
- CERTAIN CHRONIC CONDITIONS.(Pre-existing Kidney diseases, Diabetes, etc.)
- FREQUENTLY TAKING MEDICATIONS SUCH AS PAINKILLERS, COUGH AND COLD MEDICINES WITHOUT CONSULTATION WITH DOCTOR/PHYSICIAN.
- DISEASES OF THYROID AND ADRENAL GLAND (E.G. HYPERTHYROIDISM, PHEOCHROMOCYTOMA)
- EXCESS ALCOHOL INTAKE.
HEALTH COMPLICATIONS ASSOCIATED WITH HYPERTENSION?
- INCREASED RISK OF HEART ATTACK OR STROKE (PARALYSIS):
Uncontrolled high blood pressure can damage the blood vessels and make them hard and narrow. It can interfere with the sufficient supply of oxygen and nutrients through the blood to the heart muscles and or brain, resulting in an increased risk of heart attack or paralysis (stroke). It can also increase the risk of bursting of the blood vessels within the brain and causing bleeding/haemorrhage, which can be dangerous/fatal.
- ANEURYSM (Weakening or bulging of the blood vessels due to thinning of the vessel wall):
Persistent high blood pressure can damage and weaken the blood vessel walls and make them bulge (It is called Aneurysm). These blood vessels are fragile, which can increase the risk of their rupture and bleeding.
- HEART FAILURE (Failure of the heart to function effectively as a pump):
Due to constant high blood pressure Heart has to pump the blood with a greater force and higher pressure, which increases its workload. If the situation persists, it makes the heart muscles weak by either making them too thick or thin. It weakens the functioning of the heart, causing heart failure.
- KIDNEY DISEASE OR FAILURE:
High blood pressure damages the arteries around the kidneys and thus interferes with the blood filtering capacity of our kidneys. It increases the risk of kidneys diseases or failure.
- DAMAGE TO THE EYES/ INCREASED RISK OF VISION LOSS:
Persistent high blood pressure can put an excess strain on the blood vessels in the eyes (especially those in the retina). It can damage these blood vessels and increase the risk of suffering from the loss of vision.
- INCREASED RISK OF SUFFERING FROM METABOLIC SYNDROME:
Persistent Hypertension increases the risk of Metabolic syndrome (Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of Obesity, high blood cholesterol, high cholesterol levels and insulin resistance). It further increases the risk of suffering from Diabetes, heart diseases and stroke (Paralysis).
- TROUBLE WITH MEMORY OR UNDERSTANDING:
Uncontrolled and persistent Hypertension may affect the ability of thinking remembering and learning.
- DEMENTIA (MEMORY LOSS):
Narrowed or blocked blood vessels due to persistent high blood pressure can reduce the flow of blood to the brain. It can lead to a particular type of dementia (vascular dementia).
- SEXUAL DYSFUNCTION (BOTH IN MEN AND WOMEN):
Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to sexual dysfunction in both men and women.
- PERIPHERAL ARTERY DISEASE (PAD). DAMAGE TO THE BLOOD VESSELS IN THE LIMBS:
Narrowing of blood vessels (Especially Arteries) due to uncontrolled and persistent high blood pressure can reduce blood flow in the arms, legs, head and stomach, causing pain and fatigue.
- OSTEOPOROSIS (WEAKENING OF THE BONES):
Persistent high blood pressure increases the excretion of calcium through urine. As compensation for the loss of calcium, the body removes calcium present in the bones to maintain the normal calcium levels. It makes bones weak and brittle (Osteoporosis).
DIET AND LIFESTYLE RELATED TIPS TO CONTROL OR PREVENT HYPERTENSION
- LOSE EXTRA WEIGHT AND TRIM THE WAISTLINE:
Weight loss is one of the most beneficial lifestyle change necessary to control blood pressure. Even losing a small amount of weight can be useful as it positively contributes to lowering the blood pressure.
Excess fat accumulation around the waist region is one of the risk factors for developing high blood pressure. Thus, it is essential to reduce the excess fat around waistline by doing regular exercise, taking a walk and living an active lifestyle. It will definitely contribute positively to lower the blood pressure.
- DO REGULAR EXERCISE:
Regular physical activity like aerobic exercise, Yoga, stretching, jogging, swimming, etc. for about 30 min/day for most of the days in a week, can help lower blood pressure. It also reduces excess fat that is accumulated in the body, thus provides an additional benefit.
Healthonics recommends anyone who is already suffering from high blood pressure should consult a physician and also a fitness expert before deciding on the exercise regimen
- BE ACTIVE/AVOID SEDENTARY LIFESTYLE:
Being inactive or living a sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of Obesity and metabolic syndrome. Both of these conditions are risk factors for developing Hypertension; thus, Inactive lifestyle can be harmful to those at risk of suffering from High blood pressure.
- EAT A HEALTHY DIET
Eat a healthy diet consisting of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, pulses, legumes, dairy products (with low fat). It can keep ourselves healthy with less risk of weight gain/obesity, metabolic syndrome, etc.
Avoid eating deep-fried food, junk food, packed, fast food, etc. Such food contains a very high amount of sodium (excess salt), saturated fats, refined carbohydrates, etc. It increases our risk of suffering from Obesity, high blood pressure, Diabetes, etc.
- REDUCE SODIUM IN YOUR DIET
Reducing the amount of sodium in our regular diet, even by small amount can help significantly in lowering the blood pressure and improving heart health. Low sodium intake can also help in preventing the risk of suffering from Hypertension.
Daily sodium intake should not exceed the limit of approx. 2500 mg/day. Lower intake than this can be ideal for good cardiac health.
- EAT SUFFICIENT AMOUNT OF POTASSIUM IN DIET:
Eating a sufficient amount of potassium in the diet is necessary to reduce the risk of high blood pressure. Potassium, when consumed in an adequate amount helps in balancing the sodium levels In our body. The examples of food rich in potassium are Carrots, Pomegranate, Green leafy vegetables, Potatoes, Sweet Potato, Avocado, Beans, Lentils, Pumpkins, Broccoli, Tomatoes, Orange, Cucumber, Zucchini, Milk and Yogurt, etc.
- QUIT SMOKING
After every time one smokes a cigarette, the blood pressure remains elevated for a sufficient duration. When this starts frequently happening the risk of hypertension increases. Quitting smoking helps in reducing the risk of suffering from high blood pressure and at the same time, helps in preventing the risk of heart diseases in future. Those who are already suffering from Hypertension, quitting smoking can help in maintaining the blood pressure within normal limits.
- REDUCE/ LIMIT THE INTAKE OF CAFFEINE
Drinking excess amount of caffeine in the form of coffee, tea, soft drinks, energy drinks can increase the blood pressure to some extent. The chances of suffering from Hypertension are increased if one has any of the risk factors mentioned above.
It is not necessary to stop the intake of caffeine, but it should be kept within a limit to prevent the risk of a rise in blood pressure.
- REDUCE OR MANAGE THE STRESS:
Chronic stress is a known risk factor for developing high blood pressure. Since stress is an inevitable part of a modern-day fast-paced lifestyle, we cannot completely eliminate it. Following certain measures such as developing hobby, positive attitude, Yoga, walking, music, etc. we can keep it to the minimum or manage it effectively. Effective management of stress can definitely help in preventing the risk of suffering from Hypertension or maintain the blood pressure within normal limits in those who are already suffering from it.
- REGULARLY MONITOR THE BLOOD PRESSURE & CONSULT THE PHYSICIAN WHENEVER REQUIRED:
People who are suffering from Hypertension and are under treatment for the same should regularly check their blood pressure under the family physician’s observation. It can help in making sure that blood pressure is effectively under control. When blood pressure remains controlled, it automatically helps in avoiding the other health complications that are associated with it (Cardiac diseases, stroke, kidney diseases etc.)
Those who are at the risk of suffering from High blood pressure (Having risk factors) should also monitor their blood pressure periodically to make sure that it is within normal limits.
- GET ENOUGH SLEEP
Sufficient amount of sound sleep every night is necessary for good health. Getting adequate sleep helps in keeping our heart and blood vessels healthy. Insufficient sleep for a prolonged duration can disturb the normal metabolism of our body, which can lead to an increased risk of chronic diseases like Hypertension.
- EAT WISELY:
- Avoid overeating to reduce excess caloric consumption. Always eat in moderation.
- Eat freshly cooked and healthy food instead of packed and processed food (It will limit Salt, Sugar and trans fats, preservatives consumption).
- While buying, avoid food which is salted or contains a high amount of salt, e.g. Sauces, Chutney, Pickles, processed cheese, chips, Namkeen, processed and packed food, etc.
- LIMIT THE AMOUNT OF ALCOHOL YOU DRINK
Drinking alcohol in excess amount can increase the risk of Hypertension, thus; it is advisable to either avoid alcohol consumption or drink it in a limited amount.
- IMPROVE VITAMIN-D LEVELS:
Having a sufficient amount of vitamin D is essential to reduce the risk of high blood pressure. Whenever possible, try to get enough exposure to the sunlight daily to improve the vitamin-D levels. If Exposure to the sunlight is not possible, one can consult the physician. As per his/her advice and guidance, one can take Vitamin-D supplements to improve the Vitamin-D status.