High blood pressure affects more than one in every 4 adults. For many of these people, prescription medication is a necessity. However, this medication does not come without side effects which may include headaches, dizziness, impaired kidney function, insomnia, sexual dysfunction, increased risk of diabetes and a whole lot more. What’s more, usually, once you on are these medications, you’re on them for LIFE. Surely there’s something you can do to lessen your need for these medications?
Sometimes these medications are necessary, but what other simple changes can be made to decrease our reliance on these drugs?
- Dark chocolate: Research out of Tufts University showed that people who consumed 100gm of dark chocolate reduced their systolic pressure (the top number) by 12 mm Hg and their diastolic pressure (the bottom number) by 9 mm Hg. It also lowers your bad cholesterol and improves insulin sensitivity (good news for diabetics). These findings are echoed in other studies. The reason dark chocolate does this is yet unknown, but it is thought to be a result of chemicals in cocoa known as flavonols/flavonoids
- Potassium: Studies completed found that potassium in your diet can lower your blood pressure by 10 systolic/5 diastolic. Rather than buying potassium supplements, try increasing potassium rich foods in your daily diet. Food rich in potassium include: peas, bananas, citrus fruit, dried apricots, fish (especially salmon and tuna), green leafy vegetables, legumes, melons, potatoes, chicken, tomatoes, whole-grain cereals and yoghurt.
- CoQ10: Coenzyme Q10 is also known as ubiquinone as it is found in all foods. In fact, your body even makes its own. As we age, our bodies produce less. Importantly, use of statins and some beta blockers lower our body’s production of CoQ10. In a meta-analysis published in the Journal of Human Hypertension in 2007, researchers reviewed 12 separate clinical trials that tested the effects of CoQ10 on the blood pressure of a total of 362 patients. Three of the studies included were randomized and controlled. In every single study, CoQ10 was found to reduce blood pressure by between 11 and 17 points (mm Hg) for systolic blood pressure and eight to 10 points for diastolic blood pressure. This drop is equivalent to that from many blood pressure drugs. Supplementation with CoQ10 should be considered for those wanting to decrease their blood pressure naturally.
- Exercise: Unfortunately, the old myth that exercise is bad for your blood pressure continues. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Aside from the numerous other benefits, exercise can reduce your systolic blood pressure by 10-15 mm Hg. That might not sound like a lot, but a reduction of blood pressure by 5 mm Hg can decrease the risk of stroke by 34%, of heart attack by 21%, and reduce the risk of dementia. If you are new to exercise, start small with walking or aqua aerobics and build slowly. As always, check with your health care provider, such as your chiropractor or GP, before starting any new exercise. For further information on exercise, contact our very own rehabilitation specialist and personal trainer Danielle Coak.
- Hibiscus tea: Several studies have all shown hibiscus tea to reduce blood pressure. Systolic blood pressure was reduced by over an amazing 26 mm Hg!
- Manage stress: Stressful events have been shown to cause a spike in blood pressure. With prolonged stress, it is possible for blood pressure to remain elevated for a prolonged period. We might not be able to remove the stress from our lives, but we can relieve our stress. Discover what relaxes you, whether it’s yoga, nature walks, reading or listening to music. Believe it or not, studies have shown that meditation lowers blood pressure dramatically.
- Chiropractic: Exciting research has come out of the hospital of the University of Chicago that has found that chiropractic care of the neck can reduce blood pressure by the equivalent of two blood pressure medications taken at the same time!