Sitting in my graduate classroom on the Wilfrid Laurier University campus in Waterloo, Ontario, I had my first panic attack. It was 2:11 p.m. on a Tuesday afternoon in October, 2007. I started to Read
Six years ago I was prescribed two medications to control my high blood pressure (HBP). The doctor said I would have to take the medications for the rest of my life. That was when I started on a path to naturally lower my blood pressure myself, without dependence on prescription medication.
Shortly after — and ever since — I've maintained normal blood pressure levels, and I feel better than ever. Here are the lifestyle changes I took then and adhere to today to make that happen.
1. Eat a whole foods-based vegan diet.
There are a lot of theories about why it works, but study after study shows that vegetarians, and especially vegans, have lower blood pressure than their omnivore counterparts, even when taking into account body mass.
2. Aim for high potassium and low sodium.
Diets that obtain at least an adequate intake of potassium (4700mg/day) should maintain lower blood pressure levels. The other electrolyte we need, sodium, is often overconsumed. High dietary sodium intake can also lead to HBP. Keeping your sodium levels low is important to maintaining a healthy blood pressure. Try to get fewer than 1500 mg per day.
Green juice is amazingly high in potassium and usually has a low sodium content. Other great sources include potatoes and bananas. Most fruits and vegetables have very high potassium-to-calorie ratios. If you’re eating a whole foods plant-based diet, getting enough potassium won’t be hard. Most processed foods have high sodium levels and include little overall nutrition. If it comes in a crinkly wrapper, it’s probably best to avoid.
3. Take Co-Q10.
Coenzyme Q10 is a safe, natural, non-protein compound found in whole foods. Additional supplementation with Co-Q10 has astounding effects on naturalizing BP levels. One study found the average impact lowered HBP significantly and actually allowed them to discontinue their previous prescription medications!
4. Get moving.
There’s no debate that exercise is great for you. Did you also know it can lower HBP? Start a long-distance running program, attend more yoga classes, do whatever it takes. Make working out a fun thing, not a chore, and you'll be more likely to stick with it.
5. Lose weight.
If you’re overweight, losing weight has an impact on controlling HBP naturally.
6. Lose the booze.
Cutting out or reducing your alcohol intake also has a positive impact on HBP.
7. Cut the caffeine.
While coffee does not seem to have the same impact as other sources, an overall reduction, or elimination, of caffeine can help lower HBP levels.
This is your health and you can control it. Almost all cardiovascular diseases like HBP can be easily prevented by positive lifestyle changes. If you’re already on a treatment course, talk to your doctor before starting or stopping medications, exercise programs, or anything that would affect your blood pressure.
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