Definitely an area of concern with many of my customers. There are certainly lifestyle adjustments we can take into account , along side some excellent supplements that would be beneficial.
Blood pressure refers to the pressure of your blood in your arteries. If the pressure is too low then you may struggle to pump adequate levels of oxygen and nutrients around the body which can cause light headedness and fainting, too high then over time this may cause the heart to enlarge and become less efficient at pumping. Long term hypertension increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
There are a number of lifestyle modifications you can make to reduce high blood pressure such as reducing salt and alcohol intake[i], increasing physical activity[ii], losing weight[iii] and incorporating high amounts of berries[iv] and green tea[v] into your diet.
The essential mineral and electrolyte potassium has been shown to reduce blood pressure[vi]. A systematic review looking into the effect of increased potassium intake on blood pressure found a significant reduction in levels with a 24% decreased risk of stroke.[vii] In addition, magnesium, another essential mineral has shown to aid in the reduction of blood pressure. A meta-analysis found dose dependent reduction in blood pressure with magnesium supplementation.[viii]
Eat well: A healthy diet can help lower your risk of developing coronary heart disease and prevent weight gain, reduce your risk of diabetes and hypertension. Aim to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables to ensure a high fibre intake which has inversely been associated with heart disease[ix]. Limit processed foods as well as those rich in sodium and sugar.
Get Active: Physical activity can help reduce your risk of heart and circulatory disease. It can also help you control your weight and reduce blood pressure. Make exercise a part of your daily routine.
Maintain a healthy weight: Research shows that reaching and keeping to a healthy weight cuts your risk of heart and circulatory diseases because it helps prevent and manage conditions like high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes that put you at greater risk of coronary heart disease.
Quit smoking: Smokers are almost twice as likely to have a heart attack compared with non-smokers. If you smoke, stopping is the single most important step you can take to protect the health of your heart.
Reduce Stress: Although stress is not a directly a risk factor for heart and circulatory diseases, but it's possible that it may contribute to overall risk level. Change your lifestyle in a positive way can help you feel better able to cope with the demands put onto you. A balanced diet, meditation and regular physical activity can help you cope with stress.
Reduce Alcohol: Drinking more than the recommended amount of alcohol can have a harmful effect on your heart and general health. Alcohol is also high in calories so it can lead to weight gain. Current recommendations are not to drink more than 14 units per week and have some alcohol-free days within the week.
Author: Aimée Benbow, BSc (Hons) ANutr. is Technical Director at Viridian Nutrition.
[i] Chen, L., Smith, G.D., Harbord, R.M. and Lewis, S.J., 2008. Alcohol intake and blood pressure: a systematic review implementing a Mendelian randomization approach. PLoS medicine, 5(3), p.e52.
[ii] Hayashino, Y., Jackson, J.L., Fukumori, N., Nakamura, F. and Fukuhara, S., 2012. Effects of supervised exercise on lipid profiles and blood pressure control in people with type 2 diabetes mellitus: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Diabetes research and clinical practice, 98(3), pp.349-360.
[iii] Neter, J.E., Stam, B.E., Kok, F.J., Grobbee, D.E. and Geleijnse, J.M., 2003. Influence of weight reduction on blood pressure: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Hypertension, 42(5), pp.878-884.
[iv] Erlund, I., Koli, R., Alfthan, G., Marniemi, J., Puukka, P., Mustonen, P., Mattila, P. and Jula, A., 2008. Favorable effects of berry consumption on platelet function, blood pressure, and HDL cholesterol–. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 87(2), pp.323-331.
[v] Peng, X., Zhou, R., Wang, B., Yu, X., Yang, X., Liu, K. and Mi, M., 2014. Effect of green tea consumption on blood pressure: A meta-analysis of 13 randomized controlled trials. Scientific reports, 4, p.6251.
[vi] Poorolajal J, Zeraati F, Soltanian AR, Sheikh V, Hooshmand E, Maleki A. Oral potassium supplementation for management of essential hypertension: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. PLoS One. 2017 Apr
[vii] Aburto NJ, Hanson S, Gutierrez H, Hooper L, Elliott P, Cappuccio FP. Effect of increased potassium intake on cardiovascular risk factors and disease: systematic review and meta-analyses. BMJ. 2013 Apr 3;346:f1378.
[viii] Jee, S.H., Miller, E.R., Guallar, E., Singh, V.K., Appel, L.J. and Klag, M.J., 2002. The effect of magnesium supplementation on blood pressure: a meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. American journal of hypertension, 15(8), pp.691-696.
[ix] Wolk, A., Manson, J.E., Stampfer, M.J., Colditz, G.A., Hu, F.B., Speizer, F.E., Hennekens, C.H. and Willett, W.C., 1999. Long-term intake of dietary fiber and decreased risk of coronary heart disease among women. Jama, 281(21), pp.1998-2004.
The information contained in this article is not intended to treat, diagnose or replace the advice of a health practitioner. Please consult a qualified health practitioner if you have a pre-existing health condition or are currently taking medication. Food supplements should not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet.