Everything you need to know about: Blood Pressure

I was born with a heart condition and when I was 18, they found more stuff wrong with my heart. And it really is a matter of when, not if, I’ll need further surgery.

Needless to say, its been a huge motivator for me to look after my own health! And lately, I have had to make some lifestyle changes to improve my blood pressure, cos it’s a wee bit on the high side.

1 in 3 New Zealanders have high blood pressure, or hypertension. High blood pressure can put extra pressure on our hearts and blood vessels and increase our risk of all sorts of health related complications., such as heart disease and strokes. Pretty scary stuff!

So what is Blood Pressure and HOW can we make sure its within a healthy range?

πŸ’œ Blood pressure is a measure of how much pressure is in your artery when your heart muscle is contracted (systolic – that’s the top number) and when your heart is relaxed (diastolic- that’s the bottom number).

πŸ’œ If your blood pressure is too low, then you may get dizzy when you stand up and your heart won’t be pumping hard enough to get the blood around your body.

πŸ’œ If your blood pressure is too high, then that puts stress and strain on your heart and blood vessels, which can affect your entire body.

πŸ‘‰ Normal blood pressure is 120/80

πŸ‘‰ High blood pressure is 140/90

Its important to remember that our blood pressure changes every second of every day, in response to breathing, moving, levels of stress and relaxation. One high blood pressure reading, doesn’t mean you have high blood pressure. If you are attacked by a lion, say, then it is normal for your blood pressure to increase quite a lot. But when you escape the lion, your blood pressure should drop down. Its when your blood pressure is high a lot of the time and at rest,(ie. not fighting lions πŸ“·πŸ˜‰) that its a concern.

So how can we keep our blood pressure in a healthy range?

πŸ’œ Exercise regularly! At least 40 minutes a day 4 days a week (minimum). Certain exercises like tai chi and yoga are really beneficial as they incorporate breathing and relaxation exercises and can lower blood pressure even more.

πŸ’œ Get a good nights sleep! Sleeping 8 hours a night is ideal for a healthy blood pressure.

πŸ’œ Eat plenty of plant based foods such as: vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds. Because these contain lots of really important nutrients, such as potassium (bananas, potato, kumara), magnesium (almonds, spinach, cashews, kale), phytonutrients and antioxidants (beetroot, mushrooms, berries, pomegranate)

πŸ’œ Other foods such as fatty fish, olive oil, dark chocolate, green tea, spirulina, fermented foods, garlic and hibsicus tea have all been shown to help improve heart health and blood pressure.

πŸ’œ Reduce processed foods. These are often high in sodium (salt) and low in nutrients. Excess amounts of sodium can increase blood pressure, especially in people that are “salt sensitive”

πŸ’œ Relax! Make sure you spend time each day doing something fun or relaxing. Listen to music, have a bubble bath, read a book, dance or laugh. All these activities will help to reduce stress and reduce your blood pressure.

Got high blood pressure? Want to lower it naturally using nourishing foods and diet changes? Book a Consultation now for personalised health advice.

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