Hypertension, commonly referred to as high blood pressure (BP), can lead to some serious health issues including a heart attack, stroke, heart failure or kidney disease, affecting upwards of 3.5 million Australians
What is blood pressure?
The pressure of your blood against the inner walls of your arteries as it gets pumped around your body by your heart. As your heart pumps the flow of blood in your arteries rises and falls and so does your BP.
Hypertension rarely occurs in isolation, with the following factors being common ‘culprits’ that can lead to increased chances of high BP:
- having high blood cholesterol
- being overweight
- high stress levels
- high homocysteine levels
- renal disease
- having diabetes
There are often no symptoms or signs of high BP – you can have high blood pressure and feel completely OK. It is therefore important that you have regular blood pressure checks either at your GP or local pharmacy. It is also useful to check your BP at home using a personal BP monitoring device. We keep the iHealth range of devices which connect to your smart phone, storing and graphing your results so that you can easily keep an eye on your BP, or share the information with your GP.
Lifestyle is a really important factor in managing high BP, here’s a few important areas that you can consider to help manage your BP:
- have your BP checked regularly – the higher your risk, the more often that you should have a check
- quit smoking
- limit or avoid alcohol – maximium of two standard drinks per day for men and one for women
- achieve and maintain a healthy body weight
- be active – do 30 minutes or more of moderate-intensity physical activity on most days of the week, or all if you can manage it
- eat a healthy, balanced diet
Consider the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension)
The main focus of the DASH is low sodium (salt) and high potassium and magnesium. The average Australian consumes up to twice the recommended amount of sodium in their diet, often hidden in processed foods. The DASH diet studies showed that by reducing sodium to 1500mg per day, BP can be significantly reduced.
The DASH diet plan
Aim to eat the following every day:
- 6-8 serves wholegrains eg. 1 cup brown rice+2 slices rye bread+1/2 cup rolled oats
- 4-5 serves vegetables eg. 2 cups salad greens+1 cup chopped vegetables. Think leafy greens and bright and colourful – colour in the vege world is high in antioxidants…great for heart health!
- 2-3 serves fruit – bananas particularly are a great source of potassium
- 2-3 serves low fat milk products, or consider cow’s milk alternatives such as sheep or goats milk
On a weekly basis, try and stick to the following guide:
- no more than 6 serves lean meat, poultry or fish
- 4-5 serves nuts, seeds, legumes
- 2-3 serves fats and oils (consider rice bran oil, olive oil and cold-pressed oils rather than the typical ones you find in the supermarket)
- limit sweet treats to 2 per week and avoid as much added sugar as you can
An evidence-based natural apporach for high BP
- Vitamin C and Vitamin E – great antioxidants which have been shown to reduce blood pressure
- Taurine – an amino acid shown to reduce BP in those with high levels. Taurine is available in combination with magnesium and other nutrients in Cardio X, a blend especially formulated for heart health.
- Coenzyme Q10 – an efficacious antioxidant and great for energy production, this nutrient has a hypotensive action including lowering blood viscosity and inducing vasodilation (helping your blood vessels open up better)
- Essential fatty acids – shown to have cardio-protective effects as well as having hypotensive properties.
- Beetroot – beetroot is naturally high in nitrates which lower BP by relaxing smooth muscle
- Garlic – increases nitric oxide production so causes vasodilation and lowers BP
- Magnesium – important in BP regulation as it plays a huge role in the transport of other minerals important for heart health such as calcium, sodium and potassium
- Selenium – antioxidant actions as well as improving detoxification and improving the uptake of Vit C and E
- Cacao – in it’s pure form, cacao can be anti-inflammatory which balances blood pressure, helps with insulin resistance, and reduces vascular damage
Many people with high BP may need to take prescription medicines to help manage it safely. If you are on medication, it is important to consult with your pharmacist or other healthcare provider before taking any supplements to ensure there are no interactions. Call the Natural Chemist to speak with one of our experts about the right options for you. T: 1300 882 303
Heart Foundation.org Available at: www.heartfoundation.org.au
Hechtman L, 2014, Clinical Naturopathic Medicine. Churchill Livingstone, Sydney
Osiecki H, 2014, The Nutrient Bible. 9th Edn, Bio Concepts Publishing, QLD