How to Prevent High Blood Pressure
It’s possible to prevent high blood pressure through small changes in your lifestyle. It’s a permanent commitment that also reduces the risk of suffering from other diseases. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are currently 1.130 million people with hypertension and it’s estimated that a couple of hundred million are undiagnosed.
High blood pressure isn’t a problem only associated with older people. Children, youth, and middle-aged adults can get it. Adhering to some habits largely prevents its early development and the usual complications associated with the disease. Let’s see what things you can do to prevent hypertension.
Prevent high blood pressure with a healthy diet
The first change that you can include in your life to prevent high blood pressure is to have a healthy diet. The American Heart Association notes that this is the initial step in the process of controlling your blood pressure. Pay attention to the following sections so that from now on you can start the nutritional change:
Get started on the DASH diet
From Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, the DASH nutritional regimen is frequently prescribed for people diagnosed with prehypertension. It isn’t a closed, limiting, or monotonous plan as many try to catalog it, but it allows you to include a variety of foods in your daily intake.
In simple terms, the DASH diet consists of reducing the consumption of fat and sodium and concentrating instead on the following:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Whole grains
- Low-fat dairy
- White meat (fish and chicken, mainly)
- Nuts and legumes
- Non-tropical vegetable oils
The diet provides 2,000 calories a day and is based on the exact portion distribution throughout the day. If you want to know more about it, here’s some information from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
Learn to read labels
A very important part of choosing your diet is knowing what you’re buying. To prevent high blood pressure, you must learn to read labels, as many manufacturers try to hide fat, sodium and glucose in terms that are unfamiliar to buyers. Even when they use the main term, you may be unaware of what they are referring to.
Getting to know all the information included on the labels can be a complicated process, so we recommend doing it in the company of a nutrition professional. To start you off, have a look at this guide from the American Heart Association.
Limit sodium intake
We’ve already mentioned it in the DASH diet, but we’ll emphasize it again as sodium is a catalyst for high blood pressure. Too much of it causes the body to retain water, which, in turn, raises your blood pressure. As the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) points out, the daily requirement is 2,300 milligrams a day. This is the equivalent of a teaspoon of table salt distributed throughout all your meals.
This means all the food you eat in a 24 hour period. Keep in mind that processed food tends to contain more of this mineral. The more natural your diet is, therefore, the less sodium it will contain. Go for seasonings, spices, or herbs when you want to add flavor when cooking at home.
How to prevent high blood pressure with lifestyle
Diet is just one of the things you can do to prevent high blood pressure. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also recommend the following habits.
Studies and research agree that smoking is a risk factor for high blood pressure. It doesn’t matter if you smoke regularly or sporadically, or if you’re actively or passively exposed to it. Also, keep in mind that smoking is associated with a dozen heart and lung diseases.
Aerobic exercise is another of the habits to prevent hypertension that you can include in your life. The European Society of Cardiology notes that physical activity is helpful for hypertensive, and prehypertensive conditions, and also those with normal blood pressure. Although any type of activity is welcome, the ideal ones are aerobic activities.
These are the ones with the greatest benefits for your cardiovascular health. Jogging, biking, and swimming are just a few of those available. As a guide, you can consider the WHO recommendations on physical activity (an average of 150 minutes of moderate activity per week).
Research on this shows that the higher your weight, the greater your chances of developing hypertension. Obese people aren’t the only ones at risk; those who are overweight are also exposed to this risk. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recommends a body mass index between 18.5 and 24.9 for healthy adults.
Limit alcohol consumption
Evidence also shows that alcohol is a risk factor for hypertension, regardless of your age or gender. If you limit the consumption of alcoholic beverages to just one drink a day, you’ll be taking a big step to benefit your health. Over time, you can reduce the frequency even more and limit this amount to just once or twice a week. Be aware that excess alcohol intake can even cause some mental disorders.
Respect the hours of sleep
Sleeping is something that benefits you in general. In this case, studies and research have shown that there’s a close relationship between hours of sleep and the development of hypertension. The risk increases if you sleep less than 6 hours, but also if you exceed the average of 8. Bad sleeping habits can cause sleep disorders that are negative for your blood pressure.
In addition to this, and as Harvard Health Publishing and Johns Hopkins Medicine carefully point out, you should also try to lower your stress levels. To do this, you could try some relaxing activities, such as yoga and meditation.
These tips to prevent high blood pressure aren’t really a great challenge for your routine. All of them have benefits to prevent other diseases too, as well as helping you to feel better physically and emotionally. Don’t hesitate to implement them as soon as possible and keep them permanently in your day-to-day routine.
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