If you've recently been diagnosed with high blood pressure, your doctor may have handed you a list of changes to make along with your prescription for a new medication. Here's a breakdown of the major lifestyle adjustments needed.
Start Eating Better
Many people have spent their lives indulging in the typical American diet. Cheeseburgers, steaks, fast-food restaurants, and processed foods have become the norm in many families. Unfortunately, this diet has had a profound effect on the overall health and wellness for many in society. Hypertension is one of the most common medical conditions that can be improved simply by patients changing their diet to whole foods.
If you have hypertension, your physician may advice you to follow the "Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension" (DASH) diet. The DASH diet is aimed at reducing sodium as well as increasing certain nutrients like calcium, magnesium, and potassium. This diet is also low in animal fats while heart-healthy fats like olive oil and avocados are used in moderation.
This means you should cut back on red meats, which includes pork, and choose lean meats like turkey and chicken instead. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish at a minimum two times a week. Aim for the oilier fishes, like salmon, sardines, and tuna. Reduce your egg, milk, cheese, other dairy products, and butter usage. You can use fresh herbs mixed with extra-virgin olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar as a bread dip instead.
Aim to make fresh vegetables and whole grains comprise the majority of your plate for each meal. Canned vegetables are extremely high in sodium, so skip them completely. If it's difficult or cost prohibitive to find fresh vegetables, simple frozen vegetables without added sauces are an acceptable substitute. Choose fresh fruits and small portions of nuts for snacks.
One of the biggest changes will obviously be to stop reaching for the salt shaker. Use spices and dried and fresh herbs to add flavor to your food. It will take a while, but your taste buds will eventually adjust.
If you're a smoker, you likely already know how bad it is for you. But it's not just your lungs or energy level or teeth that smoking affects, it adversely affects your blood pressure, too. If you're tired of trying and failing repeatedly, tell your healthcare center you need help. They may hold workshops, support groups, or other cessation programs. Your physician may also prescribe something to help you.
Cut Back On Drinking
Scientists are entirely sure why alcohol usage affects blood pressure, but there is no shortage of studies supporting its adverse effects. If you feel you need assistance in this area, be sure to let your doctor know. Making these changes may not necessarily lower your blood pressure back to normal, but it could reduce causing more damage to your body or lessen the amount of medication you need to take.
For more information, reach out to a local healthcare center.