High blood pressure or hypertension is a common condition, around a third of adults in the UK have it, but many aren’t aware of it.
Your blood pressure is determined both by the amount of blood your heart pumps and the amount of resistance to blood flow in your arteries. The more blood your heart pumps and the narrower your arteries, the higher your blood pressure.
High blood pressure can be undetected for years as there are often no symptoms. Unfortunately, uncontrolled high blood pressure increases your risk of serious health problems, including heart attack and stroke.
Luckily, high blood pressure can be easily detected when you get checked by your doctor and can be controlled, however there are also things that you can do to prevent getting high blood pressure in the first place.
Here are our top tips.
Smoking causes a temporary rise in blood pressure and damages the walls of your blood vessels. This can lead to a thickening of the artery wall and forces your heart to work harder. This in turn can lead top high blood pressure.
Research among a study of participants aged between 36–55 and 56–80, showed that smoking was positively associated with the risk of incident respiratory diseases and hypertension .
Stopping smoking can therefore reduce the chances of getting high blood pressure.
Eat less salt
The WHO (World Health Organisation) recommends a daily intake of no more than 5g of salt. But around the world, the average person eats 9–12g a day, roughly twice the recommended amount.
Over time, excessive salt intake can lead to high blood pressure which stiffens and narrows the blood vessels. Blood and oxygen flow to key organs decreases. So, the heart tries harder to pump blood throughout the body, which further increases blood pressure.
Normally our kidneys regulate the sodium and water levels of our blood. However, sometimes, eating too much salt can disturb this balance. In this case, our body retains more water and increases the volume of blood in our bloodstream. This increases the pressure on our blood vessels and makes our heart work harder, which in turn increases the risk of high blood pressure.
By eating a diet lower in salt, we can prevent some of the building blocks that can cause high blood pressure.
Consume more potassium
Evidence shows that increased potassium intake reduces blood pressure in people with hypertension.
This is because Potassium plays a role in how much fluid is stored in your body, and how much is released in your urine. If excess fluid is stored extra pressure is put against your blood vessels, which in turn can raise blood pressure.
By eating more foods that are high in potassium, you can maintain the balance between sodium and potassium, allowing the kidneys to work well and maintain a healthy blood pressure. Foods high in potassium include leafy greens, broccoli, bananas, peas, cucumber and mushrooms.
Exercise & maintain a healthy weight
Being overweight makes your heart work harder to pump blood around the body. This in turn can raise blood pressure. Even losing just a few pounds can make a big difference
By doing regular activity, you keep your blood vessels and heart in good condition, you heart will beat faster and you may find it harder to breathe but this is normal when starting an exercise regime, just check with your doctor if you have any concerns.
It is recommended that adults should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as cycling or fast walking, every week.
Physical activity can include anything from sport to walking and gardening.
An interesting study showed that blood pressure reduces following an acute exercise session, but that the reduction was even greater if exercise was done as a preventative strategy, ie before any blood pressure concerns had been raised.
Cut down on alcohol
Regularly drinking too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure over time.
This is because when drinking alcohol, the levels of the hormone renin increase, this in turn makes the blood vessels constrict. Renin also decreased how much fluid leaves the body which also increases blood pressure. Add to this the fact that alcohol is high in calories which can contribute to unwanted weight gain which can affect blood pressure, it makes sense to restrict consumption to sensible limits.
Men and women are advised not to regularly drink more than 14 units a week and not to binge drink.
Studies show that during normal sleep, your blood pressure goes down. When you don’t sleep properly your blood pressure remains longer for a higher period of time.
It's thought that sleep helps your body control hormones needed to regulate stress and metabolism. Over time, a lack of sleep could cause swings in hormones, leading to high blood pressure and other risk factors for heart disease.
Drink wheatgrass juice
Several studies have also suggested that wheatgrass juice may help reduce cholesterol levels, based on its cholesterol-lowering effect seen in animals. Possible cardiovascular health benefits include reducing levels of “bad” cholesterol and reducing the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease.
An animal study was conducted where wheatgrass was accommodated into the diets of the animal suffering from hyperlipidemia high cholesterol in their blood for a period of 10 weeks. The results showed reduced total cholesterol.
Wheatgrass juice contains high levels of vitamins A, B5, B12 and E along with powerful plant sterols. It helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels as it helps expand capilliaries and flush toxins from the body.
Adding a superfood juice to your diet not only gives you a nutritional boost but can help you to feel full for longer which in turn can aid weight loss. The additional energy boost can also give you that little extra to get through the day.