Dr Kem Thompson GP
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is known as ‘The Silent Killer’ because it has no symptoms but causes damage, while steadfastly leading its victim towards heart disease, increased risk of stroke and an early grave.
What Causes High Blood Pressure?
Unhealthy lifestyle habits are by far the commonest cause of high blood pressure. There are other rare causes, though, eg. certain structural defects of kidneys.
How To Lower Your Blood Pressure
You’ve got two options:
a) You can take medication to lower your blood pressure, which offers a short-term solution, but exposes you to potential side effects from the prescribed medication.
b) Develop healthy lifestyle habits, which is the far superior method of lowering blood pressure, as it offers a long-term solution to the problem, and has absolutely NO side effects. It also empowers you to take back control of your own health and life!
How To Lower Your Blood Pressure With Healthy Lifestyle Habits
In my last KTF article, I wrote about 8 Pillars of a Healthy Lifestyle. All eight pillars, combined, will reduce your blood pressure if you consistently apply them.
Three major areas, which many people struggle with, are stress, nutrition and exercise. There are steps that can be taken to master all three areas.
Stress Management (the First Pillar)
Anything that registers in your body as ‘stress’ causes your body to release the stress hormone, cortisol. Prolonged release contributes to several disease conditions, including high blood pressure.
Three things you can do to reduce your stress levels are: a) respond differently to things. ‘Stress’ is your (chosen) response to – or perception of – an event. Seek professional help, if necessary, to work through issues that burden you.
b) get enough sleep. Sleep disruption keeps your blood pressure raised. Aim to sleep for 6-8 hours each night in pitch dark.
c) get regular exercise. This makes your body release chemicals that cause you to relax and feel good.
Nutrition & Supplementation
This is a big topic, so I’m going to zoom in on four things you can do differently from today in this area, to improve your blood pressure.
a) eliminate all grains and high fructose corn syrup from your diet. These contribute to insulin resistance which, for various reasons, leads to elevated blood pressure.
b) eat more omega-3 rich sources, such as fish, flax seed oil, walnut oil. Include garlic in as many meals as you can, as it helps lower blood pressure.
c) eliminate caffeine. Found in coffee, tea (milder form), coke and such beverages. It’s known to elevate blood pressure.
d) take high quality, pharmaceutical-grade, nutritional supplements, making sure that they contain balanced amounts of essential minerals and vitamins, particularly vitamins C and E, calcium and magnesium. Also check with your GP if you need to be on Vitamin D supplements, as low levels of Vitamin D have been associated with poor blood pressure control.
Regular exercise – of moderate intensity – is a powerful drug. You either make the time to work out regularly, or you’ll have to make the time to visit the doctor when you (inevitably) fall sick.
If you make small changes in each of the areas discussed above you will lower your blood pressure.
You CAN come off your blood pressure medication – the choice is yours to commit to doing what is necessary for this to happen.
HOW TO STAY HEALTHY THIS FESTIVE SEASON
The key to staying healthy this festive season is to be in control of what you eat and drink.
Refuse to follow the herd. Two key strategies to help you do this are:
1) Plan your meals and workouts ahead of time
2) Track everything that goes into your mouth for the next 90 days
Here are some quick tips to empower you to stay healthy over Christmas
1) Let your choices of foods be guided by healthy living principles, such as: more raw than cooked, no fizzy drinks, more fresh foods of different colours per meal, protein with every meal.
2) Work out regularly at least 30 minutes each day; three ten minute sessions or two fifteen minute sessions, built into your day.
3) Drink enough water for your body size, every day. Daily water recommendation per kg body weight = 33ml x body weight in kg. Split into small amounts, spread out and drink throughout the day.
4) Allow yourself a ‘cheat day’ every other week – on the condition that on your ‘cheat day’, you meet the criteria listed below. This way, you remain in control, don’t feel deprived, and you don’t cancel out all the good work you’ve done prior to the ‘cheat day’. Choose the day that will be your ‘cheat day’ – 25th of December, perhaps? And/or 1st of January? On your ‘cheat day’, eat whatever you wish to eat – as long as you adhere to the following:
– Work out twice as much – Drink daily water requirement – Eat at least four portions of vegetables
Make it a happy and healthy Christmas – by design!
Dr Kem Thompson is author of the book Inspirational Blueprints for Personal Success for Women. Visit www.doctorkem.com for more information.