Dear Dr. Wendy,
I am looking for a natural way to lower my blood pressure. Here is some of my relevant health history:
I am a 65 year old woman in generally good health. I was first diagnosed with prehypertension when I was about 19 years old. The condition was not treated with medication until I became postmenopausal. About 12 years ago when my BP consistently remained in hypertension stage 1 and stage 2, I was prescribed medication. I have tried four different medications, each causing side effects including increased heart rate and GI function issues.
• No current medications or supplements.
• Healthy diet, low stress levels, normal caloric intake and daily exercise.
• MD has concluded that my hypertension is genetic.
• Stopped taking the last medication (a calcium blocker) last month and now my blood pressure is slowly creeping up again.
I am desperate to find a more natural solution to managing my blood pressure. What can I do?
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You are doing many things right, so this must be very frustrating! According to the U.S. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, only 2 to 3% of cases of high blood pressure are accounted for by the known genetic causes of high blood pressure. By far the majority of cases of high blood pressure are either not due to hereditary factors or are only partially due to hereditary factors. Even if your own case of high blood pressure is largely hereditary, there’s still plenty you can do about it.
High blood pressure is caused by a number of factors, including low nutrient intake, a poor diet high in sodium and sugar, being overweight, smoking, lack of physical activity or having a sedentary lifestyle, high chronic stress and other compounding medical problems, including family history. Diet and exercise are always of paramount importance in minimizing the risk of high blood pressure.
Unprocessed foods high in fiber, such as vegetables, fruits and seeds, should be the basis of any healthy diet. Consume omega-3 foods like grass-fed beef, wild-caught salmon, chia seeds and flaxseeds to reduce inflammation. In general, think a grain-free or a low-grain Mediterranean diet. Some of the best foods you want in your Mediterranean diet are olive oil, garlic, wild-caught fish, and lots of fruits and vegetables, all of which help lower your blood pressure naturally.
According to the American Heart Association, a diet rich in potassium is an important part of controlling blood pressure because it lessens any negative effects of sodium on the body. Potassium balances the effect of sodium and helps lower blood pressure. Potassium-rich foods include things like coconut water, melons, avocados and bananas.
Make exercise a regular habit. Exercising regularly may help maintain healthy weight and ease stress, which in turn can reduce your high blood pressure. A report by the American College of Cardiology advises moderate to vigorous intensity workouts for 40 minutes, three to four times a week.
Keep your weight in check. Being overweight can strain your heart, so make sure that you maintain a healthy weight to lower your blood pressure levels. Losing as little as 5 to 10 pounds can significantly lower your risk for hypertension.
Control your stress. Meditation, yoga, prayer and mindful breathing are all good options. Slow breathing is one of the fastest ways you can lower your blood pressure. Studies have shown that practicing slow breathing exercises (6-10 breaths per minute) for as little as 15 minutes a day can significantly reduce blood pressure over the long term as well.
Consider supplements. Along with an active lifestyle and healthy dietary habits, these supplements may help reduce your high blood pressure levels safely and naturally: vitamin D3 with K2 (have your levels checked), CoQ10, fish oil, magnesium and L-arginine. Herbs that can help: hawthorn, cat’s claw, ginger, celery seed, cardamom, French lavender, cinnamon, basil, moringa and hibiscus.
Do you have a question to ask us? Please email them to Askcoach@haydenhealth.com.
**This Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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Dr. Wendy Cunningham is a doctor of chiropractic, certified acupuncturist, and has her master’s degree in nutrition.