High blood pressure affects over a billion people worldwide. The sad part is that most of those people come from Westernized nations. It’s said to be the “#1 risk factor for death and disability in the world.” The good news is that you can naturally reduce blood pressure.
Of course, if you do have high blood pressure, make sure you are under the care of a healthcare professional. He or she will be able to monitor your health as you naturally reduce blood pressure through food and lifestyle. Always continue to take your medications and talk with your doctor before making any changes to that.
What is high blood pressure?
We’ve all had it done, right?
Your doctor puts on that arm cuff and pumps it full of air. Sometimes the pressure is a wee bit painful. But, it’s over quickly.
If you’re at all like me, and you don’t really enjoy going to the doctor, at least go for your annual checkup. It’s important to check your blood pressure regularly because high blood pressure can sneak up on you over time. Serious damage can happen, such as blindness, kidney damage, a stroke or a heart attack. So, make sure you get yours checked!
Your blood pressure is a measurement of how hard your blood pushes through the walls of your blood vessels. The stiffer your vessels, the higher the pressure.
Hormones and Your Blood Pressure
Your body naturally wants to stay in a state of homeostasis, or stability. However, sometimes our bodies get out of homeostasis from stress, nutritional deficiencies, injuries, or sleep issues. Essentially, your hormones help maintain homeostasis. When they get out of whack, health issues set in.
And blood pressure is no different from other hormonal imbalances.
Angiotensin-II is a hormone that constricts the blood vessels and raises blood pressure. It also causes your nervous system to make you thirsty and crave salt. Angiotensin-II signals water retention by stimulating aldosterone (another hormone) production. And, overall, this hormone signals an increase is sodium content in the blood.
Low blood pressure naturally signals the production of angiotensin-II. There are a few metabolic processes involved in this, just like with thyroid hormone production, so chronically low blood pressure could mean a few things, too.
You may be so chronically stressed that your adrenals can produce aldosterone or signal the production of angiotensin. You may be low in the angiotensin-converting enzyme that is important for making angiotensin-II. And, since your liver is involved, you may have poor liver function.
Naturally Reduce Blood Pressure
There is a lot of science I could go into on how blood pressure relates to stress, immunity and other hormonal imbalances.
Really, the most important things you need to know to naturally reduce blood pressure are to:
- Manage your stress as best as you can
- Avoid / eliminate pro-inflammatory foods like sugar, dairy and wheat
- Nourish your body with tons of healthy, whole foods
- Help balance your hormones with healthy fats
Let’s Start With Food
Naturally reduce blood pressure with a plant-based diet. This is the key to eating your way to a healthier body.
Plants have so many of the important nutrients your body needs to function well. A plant-based diet will give you antioxidants to fight inflammation and disease; minerals to keep the sodium-potassium balance stable; and fiber, which is super important for eliminating toxins and excess hormones that can mess with your homeostasis!
Leafy greens are you best friend when it comes to nutritional value to naturally reduce blood pressure. Other great foods to eat often are legumes, raw nuts and seeds, broccoli, cauliflower and tomatoes.
If you’re not sure where to start, look no further than the power of flaxseeds and beets to naturally reduce blood pressure.
Not only do ground flaxseeds – and they must be ground – have insane amounts of fiber, but they also naturally reduce blood pressure in other ways. Flaxseeds help balance hormones and boost liver detoxification. They build up a strong gut microbiome to keep the immune system healthy.
Beets, on the other hand, actually contain something called nitrate. Not to be confused with the bad nitrates found in deli meats or cold cuts. This nitrate has been shown to naturally reduce blood pressure. The most potent form is when you drink beet juice, so grab a juicer and get juicing those beets!
(Beet juice is surprisingly very delicious in many smoothie recipes. Just look for ‘beet smoothies’ on Google or Pinterest for some ideas. Typically, beet juice mixed with blueberries or blackberries works best to mask that strong beet taste.)
What to Avoid
Of course, to naturally reduce blood pressure, you have to also avoid certain foods. Especially really salty, high-fat foods like chips and movie theater popcorn. (If you air pop your own, add a bit of Himalayan rock salt and some melted coconut oil; popcorn has some health benefits.)
Where you really want to focus, though, is on the sodium in processed foods. Think, any foods that come in a package, a jar, a can, a box, a bag, etc. Basically, anything that is in the middle of the grocery store where all the non-perishables are.
Well, maybe, but I’ve now seen a bunch of lower sodium options that you can choose instead of their ‘regular’ counterparts. The Superstore Blue Menu items generally are pretty good choices when it comes to lowering salt and sugar.
Other foods to avoid are fast foods, takeout (especially Chinese), many lower-end restaurant meals, and pretty much any convenient store snacks.
If you really want to naturally reduce blood pressure, take a couple of hours on the weekend to find some whole foods recipes for snacks and meals. Deliberately search for 5-ingredient meals, or 20 minutes or less recipes to help you get started.
(I am not a fan of spending my evenings in the kitchen, either. Take it from me – there are a LOT of very quick and very healthy meal ideas available out there.)
If Stress is an Issue…
Doesn’t it seem like a high-stress lifestyle and high blood pressure go hand-in-hand?
The thing is, some people have a lot of stress but just haven’t admitted it to themselves yet! Consider the symptoms of adrenal dysfunction – if you can confidently say ‘yes, that’s me’ to at least 3 of these systems, you’re stressed!
So, naturally reduce blood pressure by managing stress. And, by taking care of your adrenal glands.
One way to do both is to really watch your caffeine intake. Coffee is generally the worst offender here (unless you’re addicted to those Monster energy drinks – then we should talk!).
Coffee does increase blood pressure because it stimulates cortisol release. Makes sense. Some people are just a bit more sensitive to coffee (and caffeine in general) so if this may be you, try switching to green tea or decaf just for a couple of weeks. And, keep track of your blood pressure.
TIP: Don’t drink a cup of regular coffee or have other sources of caffeine right before your next doctor’s appointment or blood pressure test. Or walk really fast (or run) there, either! (Not you? Okay, maybe this is just me always late for my appointment!)
A Secret Weapon to Naturally Reduce Blood Pressure
Perhaps you’ve heard of hibiscus tea. And how it can naturally reduce blood pressure.
This is actually true! Science has proven this time and again. Several clinical studies have shown that drinking hibiscus tea will naturally reduce blood pressure.
For seriously high blood pressure, aim for 4-5 tea bags of hibiscus tea a day.
Natural foods are great, but you can really naturally reduce blood pressure with a few lifestyle tips too!
Smoking increases blood pressure. Plus, it’s just bad for you. Stop this however you can.
Avoid drinking too much alcohol. This is especially important for women – 4 drinks maximum per week is the rule of thumb to avoid the negative effects of excess alcohol (cancer, heart disease, hormonal imbalances).
Exercise regularly and include active recovery in there. Yoga, walking outdoors or stretching are very helpful.
Naturally reduce blood pressure by eating a plant-based diet. Always keep an eye on your blood pressure. Especially if you’re stressed, overweight, or dealing with other health issues. It can be a silent killer, just like chronic stress, so stay on top of this!
Reduce your stress, relax more often, exercise daily, and eat healthy foods. Ditch the junk as much as you can. If you need a bit of help or aren’t sure where to start, join my free 5-Day Slash the Sugar Challenge.