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Stress & Blood Pressure

Stress & Blood Pressure

Suffering is disease and contentment is good health.  This only points out the profound connection between our body and mind. A person with a disturbed mind cannot possess a healthy body. But, ‘don’t worry be happy’ is easier said than done, for anxiety spares no person. Every one of us has, at some point or the other, experienced stress in the form worry and anxiety.

How to know if you are getting anxious: You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that you are getting anxious but some of these questions directed at yourself will help:

Is there a constant list of problems both real and imagined running in your mind all the time?

  • Are you the type who can never fully relax and enjoy, even when there is no work?
  • Do you need constant stimulation?
  • Do you worry about what people think?
  • Do you rerun conversations in your head about the last party you attended?
  • Do you go over how you looked and sounded in any meeting or forum?
  • Are you unable to say no, & take on more work than you can do?

If you have answered ‘yes’ to two or more of these questions anxiety has become a way of life for you. This constant ‘worrying’ and getting stressed through life can make you age faster as it suppresses your immune system, reduces your capacity to fight infections, and makes you feel tired all the time. People who worry too much are more prone to develop high blood pressure problem than those who remain calm and happy.

Amongst the many factors that lead to high blood pressure (smoking, alcohol, obesitydiabetes) stress seems to be a major player. Although stress is Omni present, individual responses to stress are different for e.g. The typical Type A personality, highly pressure prone and totally work oriented.  He or she is usually aggressive, short-tempered, with a capacity to work more than others.  He/She is not interested in any fun-loving activity and considers it a waste of time.  He/She is always striving to be rewarded and noticed.  He not only is a hard worker but also drives people around him to deliver and enjoys being internally stressed.  Such a person is usually more prone to develop hypertension than a relatively easygoing person.

Stress will cause high blood pressure in a stress sensitive person if he is exposed to such conditions over a prolonged period of time.  The blood vessels get constricted as a response to stress and this constriction causes the blood pressure to rise.

Fortunately, there exists a non-drug method of treating hypertension in most cases.  I have seen blood pressure drop in many of my patients who have lost weight by using a sensible nutrition program. Once you have been identified with high blood pressure you need to do two things a) Consume foods that help to control it. & b) Control your stresses.

As more and more urban Indians worry about lactose intolerance (inability to digest milk), adulterated milk, unhealthy additives in milk, hormones in milk etc, the consumption of dairy products is decreasing. While calcium is a prime player in calming the nerves, controlling blood pressure and in maintaining bone health, we need alternatives to milk for our calcium intake.  Surprisingly bottled mineral water can be a good source of calcium.  Most brands vary in their calcium content.  But the fact remains that the calcium in mineral water is well absorbed.  Drinking a glass of carrot (5nos) + spinach (50 gm leaves) juice can also be a good alternative to milk as a source of calcium.  Most pulses like rajma, channa, black dal have high calcium content.  White sesame seeds are another good source.  Eat about 2-4 tablespoons daily if you are not a dairy – fan.

But remember that health benefits, which can be derived from minor changes in eating pattern, will only be effective if you follow them as a part of your daily routine. In other words, it requires a change in lifestyle and eating habits if you want to improve your health with dietary changes. Weight loss is of prime – importance to anyone suffering from high blood pressure. That coupled with increasing intaking of fruit & vegetables & fish and ensuring sufficient calcium intake; avoiding excessive salt & alcohol will help you tremendously in achieving your result.

Natural Stress Busters

Chamomile Tea

This a herb which helps bring about relaxation and promotes sound sleep.  If you find that your life has been a bit hectic and you find yourself all knotted up like a bundle of nerves, you can take a cup of chamomile tea to put yourself at ease.  Due to its ability to induce relaxation, it may help to reduce the effects of stress. Chamomile tea should be best taken at bedtime.  About 1-2 cups in the night are sufficient to wash away the days stress and induce sleep.

Green Tea

Green tea is particularly rich in polyphenols. These are active agents against cancer, heart disease.  They protect the body against stress.  It would be worthwhile to switch to drinking green tea instead of regular black tea.

Vitamin C

There is more concentration of Vitamin C in the brain tissue than in any other tissue in the body.  It is a powerful antioxidant.  During stress, more of it is used up.  Therefore, those under stress should consume anywhere between 500 to 1000 mg daily.

Yoga and Meditation

Meditation helps combat stress by allowing the mind to accumulate energy in silence.  When we stop our mental chattering we can become more centred and generate a lot of positive energy.  Pranayam that is simple breathing exercises and yoga have been proved very beneficial in combating all forms of stress. Pranayam helps to promote controlled breathing and brings about balance in the body.

These simple solutions and suggestions have been successfully prescribed to many of my patients over a span of two decades.  I hope you find these simple remedies of some benefit to you.

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