How to control high BP through diet and exercise, 5 tips to bring it down naturally
Are you overweight, eat a diet loaded with salt and rarely go for any physical activity? Then, you may be at major risk of developing high diastolic blood pressure.
Blood pressure is marked by two measurements: the systolic and diastolic measurements, represented by the top and bottom number received when measuring blood pressure.
The diastolic blood pressure is recorded when the heart is at rest and relaxed. High diastolic blood pressure is a sign that your blood vessels have become less elastic, and have hardened.
“Raised blood pressure is the biggest single contributing risk factor for death and the burden of disease worldwide. However, data suggests that fewer than half of those with hypertension are aware of their condition,” says Dr Manoj Kutteri, wellness director at Atmantan Wellness Centre.
Dr Nihar Mehta, consultant cardiologist at Jaslok Hospital and Research Centre, says that diastolic BP more common among younger people, as it is often associated with an unhealthy lifestyle.
Some of the symptoms of high diastolic blood pressure include dizziness, nose bleeding, excessive sweating, nausea, difficulty sleeping, and lethargy. But worryingly, in some people, there are often no signs of diastolic blood pressure. “The best way to detect it is to regularly check one’s blood pressure. Some signs to look out for are headaches, palpitations on exertion, visual disturbances and chest discomfort,” says Dr Mehta.
Dr Kutteri adds that in most people, high diastolic pressure is due to a sympathetic and parasympathetic malfunction which results in poor stress adaptation. “When the sympathetic system is constantly in tension, it results in a constantly high blood pressure even when the heart is at rest,” he says.
If high diastolic blood pressure is not treated, it can result in life-threatening complications such as stroke and heart failure, or aneurysms within the abdomen and contribute to cognitive decline.
Here are some of the ways to control high diastolic blood pressure without medication:
Regular physical activity can lower your blood pressure by 4 to 9 millimetres of mercury (mm Hg), says Dr Kutteri. Dr Mehta suggests you opt for walking, cycling, swimming or jogging for 30-45 minutes per day, 5-6 day a week to stay fit. Be consistent, though, because if you stop exercising, your blood pressure can rise again.
Watch your waistline
Blood pressure often increases with weight gain. “Being overweight also can cause disrupted breathing while you sleep (sleep apnea), which further raises your diastolic blood pressure,” says Dr Kutteri.
Eat a healthy diet
Opt for the DASH or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension diet. It basically translates to eating whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products and avoiding saturated fat and cholesterol. Similarly, reduce the intake of sodium, which can reduce your blood pressure from 2 to 8 mm Hg. “To reduce sodium intake, choose low-sodium alternatives of foods and beverages and eat fewer processed foods. Don’t add salt to food as just 1 teaspoon of salt has 2,300 mg of sodium. Instead use herbs or spices to add flavour to food,” says Dr Kutteri.
Avoid salty and processed foods like pickles, chutney, papad, ketchup, soya sauce, fried food, sodas, foods with MSG, as well as biscuits, butter, cheese, says Dr Mehta.
Your diet should include tomatoes, poached/ boiled eggs, green tea, chia seeds, olive oil, flax seeds, hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds, papayas, bananas, watermelon, coconut water, and cinnamon, suggests Dr Kutteri.
Limit intake of alcohol, and smoking
Alcohol raises blood pressure by several points and can reduce effectiveness of blood pressure medications. Smoking also increases your blood pressure for several minutes after you finish. “Quitting smoking helps your blood pressure return to normal. Smoking can also cause reduced elasticity of the blood vessels and make them narrow down,” says Dr Kutteri.
Cut down on stress
Stress can also contribute to raised diastolic blood pressure. “The chemicals released during stress can temporarily narrow blood vessels and make the heart beat faster,” says Dr Kutteri. You can also opt for yoga or meditation/pranayam as good antidotes to high blood pressure, says Dr Mehta.