Natural Ways to Lower Your Blood Pressure
Do you have high blood pressure? Are you wondering what your options are for getting it back under control?
While many doctors might not wait a beat to prescribe medication, drug treatment isn’t your only choice. There are several effective and natural approaches you can turn to to help you lower your blood pressure.
But if you want to keep your heart and your body healthy, then it will be important to make a serious effort to build healthy habits, support your body holistically, and make changes that will last.
Let’s take a look at what blood pressure levels to aim for, and how to get yourself back in the healthy range with all-natural solutions.
The numbers – what’s normal and what’s too high?
Optimal blood pressure numbers are below 120 mmHg systolic and 80 mmHg diastolic.
If your numbers stray a bit higher than that, you have what is called “prehypertension.” Numbers of between 130-139 mmHg systolic and 80-89 mmHg diastolic are considered stage 1 hypertension, and between 140 mmHg systolic and 90 mmHg diastolic are considered stage 2 hypertension.
If your numbers are higher than optimal, it is something to take seriously. Elevated blood pressure can increase your risk for cardiovascular disease and other concerns.
But don’t worry; there are many things you can do to effectively lower your blood pressure and get yourself back on track. And remember, medication isn’t your only line of defense. To get the best results, lifestyle and dietary modifications should play a major role.
6 things you can do to lower blood pressure naturally
With hypertension, it really comes down to a holistic approach. You’ll need to target multiple dietary and lifestyle factors to get results.
Here are the top things you can do to support healthy blood pressure levels:
1. Your Diet
The way you eat can have profound impacts on your blood pressure numbers.
The DASH diet, created by the National Institutes of Health, is generally considered “the” diet for blood pressure, and it’s been shown to be superior to standard care (including medication) and other types of interventions. But you don’t have to follow this specific diet to eat well and support your blood pressure. And it’s not just about salt, either. While salt does play a role in blood pressure regulation, and avoiding excessive amounts of salt is important, you’ll want to focus on more than just that.
A healthy diet to support optimal blood pressure levels is about eating a well-rounded diet full of nutritious superfoods and free from junk.
Ultimately, it is about getting back to the basics of healthy eating: emphasizing vegetables and whole foods won’t let you down when it comes to regulating blood pressure.
Here are a few detailed tips for eating well to reduce blood pressure:
- Stick to below 2,400 mg of salt per day. Read labels to get to know how much sodium you are putting into your body daily. Processed foods are a major culprit.
- Up your potassium levels with potassium-rich foods. These include leafy greens, avocados, tomatoes, dairy, seafood, beans, lentils, and more.[5,6]
- Get your heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Fish and fish oil is a great source of healthy omega 3s that protect the heart and can be great for blood pressure. Flax, walnuts, and chia seeds are other healthy sources.[4,7]
- Opt for whole foods rather than processed foods. Whole foods are packed with nutrients, whereas processed foods are loaded with salt, sugar, trans fats, additives, and other unhealthy ingredients. The more it looks like the real thing that grew on the plant or came from the animal, the better. Eat more veggies, fish, nuts, legumes, high-quality dairy, berries, and more. Avoid refined carbohydrates, sweets, salty seasonings, and any highly-processed foods.
- Include probiotic-rich foods. Your gut microbiome plays an important role in regulating blood pressure, and probiotics have shown promise for their blood pressure lowering effects.[9,10] Keeping your gut healthy with a clean diet full of probiotic-rich foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt, miso, and others is a great choice.
- Eat proven blood pressure-lowering foods like dark chocolate, garlic, beets, and berries regularly.[6,10-14]
- Supplement if needed. Things like magnesium, potassium, vitamin C, coenzyme Q, fish oil, beet root powder, and other natural supplements may be worth a try. Consult with your doctor to determine what’s best for you.[4,6]
2. Exercise regularly
Aside from diet, exercise is the other key tool when it comes to blood pressure management.[1,2,4] Exercise can help to prevent hypertension in the first place and also help you to manage it if you already have it.
The American Academy of Family Physicians recommends working out 3-4 times per week, with an average of about 40 minutes per session, to support healthy blood pressure levels. Both aerobic exercise and resistance training are important to work into your regular routine.[1,15]
Any and all forms of physical activity are well worth your while. Whether it is walking around the neighborhood, joining a local sports league, playing tag with your kids, hiking, biking, or doing at-home workout videos, moving your body in a way that you find enjoyable will benefit your blood pressure and your overall health in significant ways.
Options like Tai Chi and yoga have both been found to be helpful for lowering blood pressure, and they are great for keeping stress under control, too.[8,16]
3. Experiment with stress reduction techniques
Keeping your stress levels down and relaxing your mind and body is an important strategy to keep in mind when it comes to managing high blood pressure.[1,21]
Avoid watching things that can aggravate you (like the news – especially politics).
Numerous studies have demonstrated a possible benefit of meditation for blood pressure control, for example, and the American Heart Association even recommends considering meditation as a complementary tool to manage hypertension.
Other strategies like biofeedback, breath control, and more may also be effective.[2,4]
If you’d like to combine the benefits of getting your body moving, breathing deeply, and promoting relaxation, consider yoga; it’s been found to be particularly effective as a lifestyle intervention for high blood pressure.
4. Focus on weight loss
Weight loss is a well-studied, proven way to lower blood pressure, and it is considered a front-line approach for those who are overweight or obese.[4,18]
Following the healthy tips already listed above – like eating well, moving your body regularly, reducing stress, etc. – will get you well on your way to weight loss.
5. Prioritize sleep
Getting more sleep, and better quality sleep, can help to normalize blood pressure through various mechanisms.[19,20] So if you want to lower your blood pressure, then sleep needs to be a priority.
Make sure to cultivate a restful sleep environment with a cool temperature, darkness, little noise, and no screens. Commit to screen-free time before bed and give yourself time to unwind with calming activities like stretching, meditating, reading, or journaling. Try not to eat for 3 hours before bed.
If you have sleep apnea, then getting treated and using a CPAP machine may help you to improve your blood pressure levels.
6. Kick unhealthy habits
Some of the major contributors to high blood pressure include smoking tobacco and excessive alcohol use.
To lower your blood pressure, get serious about kicking these habits. Find support if you need it to quit smoking, and moderate your alcohol intake if you choose to drink any.[1,4]
Natural blood pressure management should be holistic. There’s no one magic cure all – no single food you can eat, no single supplement you can take, and no single habit you can do each day to fix your problem and make it go away forever.
Instead, you’ll need to cultivate healthy habits that support your body from all angles. A well-rounded diet, regular physical movement, stress reduction, weight loss, quality sleep, and staying away from tobacco and alcohol are all proven approaches that, when combined, can help you to drastically reduce your blood pressure readings and get yourself back on track to true health.
Pick a few of the changes you can make today, and get started now. Then, with time, introduce more and more healthy habits and routines into your day so that you build your way up to optimal health.