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High blood pressure can be termed as the bane of modernisation because in the primitive cultures blood pressure (bp) was practically unknown. This disease, harassing thousands today, is a result of a destructive lifestyle, smoking, obesity, alcohol intake, insulin resistance and stress. A disease that reflects your heart’s health and it can be fatal too. It has three major consequences — stroke, heart attack or kidney damage. Therefore, keeping your blood pressure normal is unquestionably important.

While some people may require medication to keep their blood pressure under control most of them can control, it with proper diet intake, weight loss, vitamin supplements and stress management. Eating your way out of high blood pressure should be your number one choice of treatment. To keep heart attacks and strokes at bay, your blood pressure should be maintained at 120/80 and not be in excess of 140/90.

If a stress sensitive person is exposed to stressful conditions over a prolonged period of time, their blood vessels get constricted as a response to stress. This constriction causes the blood pressure to rise.

Here are a few ways to combat stress:
Exercise: Pranayam or simple breathing exercises can also help lower the bp

Weight loss: Yet another way of dealing with high blood pressure is weight loss. In fact, the most effective lifestyle change for anyone suffering from hypertension is weight loss.

Foods to the rescue
There are a number of foods that help keep your blood pressure in check and there are some that raise it. Let’s take a look:

Eat more fruits and vegetables: Fruits are concentrated with potassium, Vitamin C, sodium and loads of soluble fibre, all of which are blood pressure lowering agents

Garlic: It is known as a vasodilator. It dilates blood vessels and lowers blood pressure

Celery: Studies at the University of Chicago, USA, have shown that just a few stalks of celery can lower blood pressure when used continuously for a couple of months

Eat less salt: Sodium restriction may help only if you are salt sensitive. Adding minerals like magnesium, calcium and potassium, and losing weight will make a substantial difference. Instead of going to extremes, you can eat less salt along with the other alterations

Avoid sugar: Sugar raises the insulin levels, and high blood levels of insulin often accompany high blood pressure

Stop smoking: Tobacco directly affects blood pressure. It increases clot formation, increases risk of precipitating a heart attack or stroke

Restrict alcohol: The effect of alcohol on blood pressure is so appalling. Researchers believe that it constitutes for most of the cases of hypertension.

Most cardiovascular problems are diseases of lifestyle and not inevitable fate. That’s why high blood pressure is termed as a lifestyle disease. You can easily cut down the risk factors by modifying your lifestyle. Minor changes in your daily eating patterns are sure to bring a turnaround in your health.

(As published in Hindustan Times dated February 24, 2020)

February 24, 2020

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