If you or a loved one is struggling with high blood pressure, you’re not alone. According to the British Heart Foundation, 1 in 4 adults have high blood pressure (hypertension), although this figure may be higher as many aren’t aware that they have hypertension. While there are many medications available to help manage this condition, some people prefer a more natural approach and that’s where supplements come in. In recent years, there has been a growing body of research suggesting that certain supplements can lower blood pressure and improve overall cardiovascular health. This article explores the power of supplements as a natural solution to high blood pressure, providing insights and recommendations for those looking to take control of their health.
The symptoms of elevated or high blood pressure (hypertension) are rarely visible and therefore often go untreated. You may need medication to properly control your blood pressure but you can also help reduce it with dietary changes and supplements. At this point we would like to add that it is always best to seek the advice of your healthcare practitioner if you suspect that your blood pressure is elevated.
What Is Blood Pressure
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a serious medical condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It occurs when the force of blood against the walls of the arteries is consistently too high, putting strain on the heart and blood vessels. If left untreated, high blood pressure can lead to various health problems, such as heart disease, stroke, kidney damage, and more.
Managing blood pressure is crucial to maintaining good overall health and preventing these potential complications. Here are some key reasons why managing blood pressure is important:
1. Reducing the risk of heart disease: High blood pressure is a significant risk factor for heart disease. When the heart has to pump against increased resistance due to high blood pressure, it can become enlarged or weakened over time. This can increase the risk of heart attacks, heart failure, and other cardiovascular problems.
2. Preventing strokes: Elevated blood pressure can damage the blood vessels in the brain, leading to an increased risk of strokes. A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is disrupted, either due to a blockage or a rupture of a blood vessel. Strokes can result in significant neurological damage or even death.
3. Protecting the kidneys: The kidneys play a vital role in filtering waste products from the blood and maintaining fluid balance. High blood pressure can damage the blood vessels in the kidneys, impairing their ability to function properly. Over time, this can lead to chronic kidney disease or kidney failure.
4. Maintaining eye health: Uncontrolled high blood pressure can damage the blood vessels in the eyes, leading to vision problems or even blindness. Conditions such as hypertensive retinopathy and macular degeneration can occur as a result of prolonged high blood pressure.
5. Enhancing overall wellness: Hypertension can exacerbate other health conditions and reduce overall quality of life. Uncontrolled blood pressure can cause fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, chest pain, and other symptoms that can significantly impact a person’s daily activities and wellbeing.
By actively managing blood pressure, individuals can significantly reduce their risk of developing these complications and improve their overall health and longevity. Lifestyle modifications, such as adopting a healthy diet, engaging in regular physical activity, managing stress levels, and maintaining a healthy weight, play a crucial role in managing blood pressure.
How To Reduce Blood Pressure Naturally
If you are concerned about your blood pressure or wish to take precautions for the future, then here are some simple ways in which you can help prevent high blood pressure;
- Dietary changes
- Weight management
- Vitamins & supplements
- Manage stress
- Sleep & rest
Following a healthy diet is a must for all who wish to maintain good health. Below are a few easy recommendations that will benefit you, whether you have high blood pressure or not;
- Reduce salt intake. When we say salt we mean sodium chloride, too much of which can raise blood pressure. But salt is an important part of our diet and necessary for good health. Potassium chloride or magnesium chloride are healthier salt choices and will not raise blood pressure in the same way as their sodium counterpart,
- Reduce caffeine. Almost everyone will recommend reducing or eliminating your caffeine intake for health reasons. It is probably advisable not to drink coffee for an hour or two before you plan on doing an activity that will significantly raise your heart rate. There are no definitive studies linking caffeine to high blood pressure, however it must be noted that coffee plants, like most other crops, are sprayed in chemical pesticides and these will make their way into the finished product. To avoid the impact of these chemicals, organic coffee would be an excellent choice.
- DASH Diet: The DASH diet is the ‘Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension’ diet which advises on correct meal portions, reducing sodium chloride, sugar and saturated fats while adding in nutrient rich foods such as vegetables, fruit, whole grains, beans, nuts, lean poultry, dairy and heart healthy fats. It aims to tip the balance away from health damaging foods and towards heart healthy foods without leaving you feeling hungry or deprived.
- Avoid smoking: Smoking is probably one of the worst things you can do to damage your health. As well as the nasty chemicals added to cigarettes, smoking damages the walls of your blood vessels and can lead to atherosclerosis (the layering of fat along the insides of your artery walls) causing them to narrow and therefore place more pressure on your heart. The chemicals in cigarettes also cause your blood to thicken and be more likely to form clots.
- Give up vaping: Recent studies are finding that vaping can cause as much damage to your health as smoking, and that includes your heart health and blood pressure. See recent studies Vaping Can Do As Much Damage As Decades Of Smoking by Heart Health News and The Link Between Vaping An Heart Attacks by Medical News Today.
Exercise For Health
Any increase in exercise is better than none and it’s so easy to add a little cardio into your daily routine. If you aren’t a fan of, or are not able to attend, a gym or exercise class, then here are some simple ways to add movement to your day;
- Do 5-15 minutes walking or jogging on the spot in the morning
- Walk up the stairs instead of taking the life or escalator
- Take a slightly longer way to work/shopping or even going from one room to another
- Do 5-10 minutes of gentle stretches in the evening, this will also have the added benefit of easing aching muscles
- If you have access to stairs, add 2 extra ups and downs each day (or more if you wish)
- Add extra pep into your steps while walking, even if its just over to the kettle
- Do walking or dancing on the spot while waiting for the kettle to boil / the oven to go bing / the photocopier to finish copying etc.
While being overweight doesn’t mean you have high blood pressure, it does place you more at risk of developing it. Even losing as little as 5-10 pounds will decrease your risk of high blood pressure. Following the dietary and exercise above will contribute towards weight loss over time. There are so many helpful articles online to help you in your weight loss journey and you can also incorporate a few helpful supplements into your diet such as
- Garcinia Cambogia: a natural carbohydrate blocker with added weight management ingredients
- Glucomannan Diet Formula: water soluble fibre thermogenic fat metaboliser
- Water Balance Complex: supports healthy fluid levels and helps prevent water retention
- Green Coffee Bean Extract: high in chlorogenic acid to slow release of glucose into your body to aid weight loss
- Apple Cider Vinegar Supplement: for macronutrient metabolism, blood sugar levels and helps keep you feeling fuller for longer.
Exploring The Potential Benefits Of Supplements
While lifestyle modifications are crucial for managing blood pressure, natural supplements can also play a valuable role in supporting overall cardiovascular health and lowering blood pressure levels. These supplements, when used in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle, may provide additional benefits that contribute to optimal blood pressure management.
- Garlic: Renowned for its potential cardiovascular benefits, garlic contains compounds that have been shown to have vasodilatory effects, meaning they can help relax and widen blood vessels, thus reducing blood pressure levels. Garlic supplements can be an effective addition to a blood pressure management plan.
- Fish Oil: Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil have been shown to have numerous cardiovascular benefits, including reducing blood pressure levels. These fatty acids can help improve blood vessel function, decrease inflammation, and promote overall heart health. Fish oil supplements, particularly those high in EPA and DHA, may be beneficial for individuals with hypertension.
- Coenzyme Q10: Coenzyme Q10 is an antioxidant that plays a crucial role in energy production within cells. It also has potential benefits for cardiovascular health, including lowering blood pressure levels. CoQ10 supplements may improve endothelial function, reduce oxidative stress, and support overall heart health.
- Ginger: A staple in alternative and herbal medicine, ginger has been traditionally used to support heart health, improve circulation, benefit cholesterol levels and balance blood pressure. Some studies show that ginger acts as a natural calcium channel blocker and ACE inhibitor (blood pressure medications).
- Magnesium: often found lacking in those with high blood pressure and adding it into your diet can have beneficial effects. Magnesium increases your body’s production of nitric oxide, which helps your blood vessel walls to relax and can lower blood pressure.
- Vitamin C: research results are mixed on how helpful vitamin C is in helping lower blood pressure levels. If you aren’t a lover of vegetable or fruit in your diet, then a vitamin C supplement can be helpful.
It is important to note that while these natural supplements show promise in managing blood pressure, they are not intended to replace prescribed medications or a well-rounded lifestyle approach. It is always recommended to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplements, especially if you have underlying health conditions or are taking medications that may interact with these supplements
Manage Your Stress
Stress can cause a rapid and steep rise in blood pressure but when the stress is over, blood pressure usually returns to normal. However, these short spikes in your blood pressure can have serious side effects to your health. In today’s world, stress management can literally be a lifesaver. When we come under stress our bodies release the stress hormones, cortisol and adrenaline, which prepare us for ‘fright, flight or freeze’ response by making your heart beat faster and constricting the blood vessels to deliver more blood to the muscles in preparation for action.
The increase in heart rate and constriction of blood vessels does temporarily raise blood pressure but this will quickly return to normal pressure when the stress is over. This is known as situational stress.
Chronic or constant stress forces our bodies to go into high gear, on an off, for days, weeks or months at a time.
To generally relieve stress you can do one or more of the following;
- Exercise: regular gentle exercise can help relieve stress by moving your blood, helping flush hormones from your body and also taking your mind off your situation
- Limit drinking and smoking: both of these appear to relieve stress in the short term but will increase it in the longer term
- Say ‘no’: If you are a ‘yes’ person then you probably have a habit of taking on too much. Learn to say ‘no’ and take back your time for yourself
- Practice meditation: there are so many different types of meditations available on social media and any of them will help you deal or alleviate your stress. My personal favourites are guided meditations and sleep meditations
- Self care: it’s important for you to look after you, allow yourself time for relaxation and to do the things you enjoy
- Practice gratitude: this is one of my favourite practices and has made such a huge difference to my life. Think about all the things in your life for which you are grateful or thankful for, when you do, you will see how good things there are in your life, read more about this in our Spiritual Health article.
- Tone your vagus nerve: One of the major controllers in your body, the vagus nerve plays a pivotal role in the regulation of your nervous system. Read our full about what you need to know about your vagus nerve.
Sleep and Rest
When you are sleeping your blood pressure goes down. When you have sleep problems or insomnia, your blood pressure will stay higher for a longer period of time. The odd night of disturbed sleep won’t affect your blood pressure but if you have regular trouble sleeping, regularly sleep less than five hours a night or have regularly interrupted sleep, then you may be at greater risk of high blood pressure. Shift work or night work is very disruptive to sleep and can affect blood pressure.
Most people need at least eight hours of sleep, but this is not a hard and fast rule as everyone’s needs are different. Unless you suffer from a medical condition, there is usually a reason for lack of sleep. One of the most common reasons for this is irregular sleeping times and habits.
Its best to try and stick to a regular bedtime and follow a wind down routing coming up to your bedtime. Don’t engage in anything mentally stimulating for at least an hour before bedtime such as being on social media, work, exercise. A warm bath is a great way to wind down before bed, as is a warm drink and some tv or light reading.
You have more control over your blood pressure than you think. We hope this article has helped you make the first step in taking control of your health and you have any queries please contact us or leave a comment below.