My entire life I have grown up with a mother who has had high blood pressure. As young kids, whenever we were misbehaving or simply driving her crazy, she would always say “Stop it, you’re raising my blood pressure” which would usually work as we knew that was dangerous for her. Now that I think about it, she may have taken advantage of that a few times, but hey, whatever works, right?
She has struggled with hypertension for practically her whole life, ever since she was 18. So young! But anyone who knows my mom knows she’s an intense woman. It’s Gale’s way or the highway. The woman is tough as nails and is nothing short of Super Mom. But having that personality makes her a high-stress individual. It also doesn’t help that she has been one of those people who could pretty much eat whatever she wanted and not have anything to show for it. So, a less-than-satisfactory diet added to the mix has not helped the situation. Once year 40 rolled around, the “nothing to show for it” part started to change but her lifestyle didn’t. With a current blood pressure of 180/95, she is obviously on blood pressure medication (yes that is her blood pressure ON MEDICATION). At this point, it is probably no surprise that I have made it my mission to holistically eliminate diseases such as hypertension.
So, my goal today is to share with you some of the ways high blood pressure can be tackled. This could be to either avoid becoming medicated or work your way off of the medication you’re currently on.
Get rid of the inflammation in your diet. As I mentioned in my last post, hypertension is when the force of blood, pushing against vessel walls, is too high. This added pressure causes the heart to work too hard and blood vessels to function less effectively. So with that already going on, why would be want to “inflame” those vessels even more, therefore requiring that blood to be pumped even harder through the arteries?? We put our bodies in a chronic state of inflammation by eating foods made or covered in flour, sugar, or oil. So pretty much everything you’re currently eating. Fries, buns, donuts, cereal, cookies. Even your whole grain breads and “sugar free” items are inflammatory. We want to stick to a whole food diet, one ingredient items. Grass fed meats (yes red meat is fine!), wild caught fish, fresh vegetables and fruits, sweet potatoes, quinoa, nuts, and good oils like olive, coconut, and avocado. This is how you FUEL your body instead of just filling it. Plus, you won’t be taking in anything that sticks to the inside of those vessels (cholesterol) that further narrows the blood flow path.
Increase cardio. The biggest struggle with this is increasing cardio without raising your blood pressure too high. My advice: start small and work your way up. If your current cardio includes carrying groceries inside or walking upstairs to your bed each night, you will want to start with something simple such as speed walking around the block. After a week or two, work your way up to being able to jog one lap with a speed walk lap before and after. Another option would be swimming or cycling (either stationary or on a real bike). Strength training is another great option. Building muscle while conditioning your heart is perfect. There are so many exercises you can do, either at the gym or in your living room, that there is really no excuse to not do it. These are great options for those who have knee or hip complications and also allows for a lighter impact on your heart than running 3 miles up a mountain on day 1. I can’t say it enough, START SMALL! Anything over what you normally do will have an impact. We all have to start somewhere. I highly recommend our Function Training Center here at Back to Health of Anthem. Our trainers are professionals who pride themselves on individually building workouts tailored for each person and their goals. No two bodies are the same and that is clearly understood by our staff. No sense in doing the work yourself trying to design the perfect workout when you might not really know what you’re doing in the first place. Instruction and accountability are key!
REFUEL your pill container with supplements. We all know those pill organizers that have the S M T W T F S markings on them we’ve seen our grandparents use for years. They’re for “old people” I know, but I have to admit, I bought one a few months ago and it was the best $3 spent! Our grandmas have the right idea. Why get 6 different bottles out each morning to take all of your vitamins when you could do that just once a week?? Plus, it keeps you accountable each day so when you forget one day, it’s obvious. If you read my first blog post, you know the 6 essential vitamins everyone should be taking. But with hypertension, we need to add a couple more such as Hawthorn and Garlic supplements. My botanicals professor in Chiro school had super high blood pressure in college so he started taking hawthorn faithfully. After 6 months, it was gone! That’s the great thing about botanicals and herbs, they CURE the problem, not treat the symptoms. As always, consult your Chiropractor before starting or increasing any vitamin regiments. If you're not sure what you may or may not need, in depth Blood Analysis is always a good idea to determine your needs.
Increase specific foods in your diet and decreasing others. Some great foods known for reducing blood pressure are celery, garlic, pomegranate, flaxseed (ground), and beets. Of course, you want to also focus on eliminating salt. Adding salt to food, or foods naturally high in salt like cured or processed meats are the biggest culprits. In school, they always said, “where sodium goes, water flows” so if we have an excessive amount of sodium in our bodies, we retain water to dilute it down. The more water we retain, the higher volume of blood we have which further increases the stress on our arteries. So this is why it is always the first recommendation from a doctor to a hypertensive patient.
Make relaxation part of your day. Even if it is just 10 minutes a day sitting in your room with the door locked so your kids can’t barge in, it will make a difference. I recommend finding a relaxation playlist on Spotify or Pandora or even a worship station. Find something that helps remove the thoughts of everything going on in your life and lets you focus on you. Concentrate on deep breathing and maintaining good posture while sitting so you can have the maximum oxygen intake. Whether you are just sitting there silently or spending the time in prayer/listening, this is a vital part in decreasing stress on your body.
Use essential oils and diffusers. My mom received 2 diffusers for Christmas, with plenty of essential oils for decreasing blood pressure and stress from me specifically to use this. Never underestimate the power of natural herbs! Some great oils to use/combine are lavender, frankincense, bergamot, clary sage, ylang ylang, and jasmine. My suggestion is to have a diffuser with one or many of these oils right next to your bed so it helps you relax before going to sleep but also works while you are sleeping.
High blood pressure can be a very dangerous condition if left uncontrolled or even controlled with medication. If you know you are struggling with high blood pressure and want to make a change the right way, call us to schedule a consult at 623-551-6677 today! We look forward to assisting you in the path to a healthier you!
*AZ Chiropractic License Pending*
Dr. Courtney Knight is a recent Doctor of Chiropractic graduate of National University of Health Sciences in St. Petersburg, Florida and received her undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan in 2013. Go Blue! Dr. Knight was born and raised in a small town in southwest Michigan where her sense of community and wellness drove her to pursue a career in the holistic health field. She saw the inconsistency in what society was being told was "healthy" and desired the research on how to truly correct one's diet to fuel their body rather than feed cravings. Dr. Knight focused her studies on the anti-inflammatory diet, discovering that our bodies are in a state of chronic inflammation due to the food we are eating which in turn, is the underlying cause of so many diseases plaguing our world today.... see more
Dr. Brian Hester, originally from Alabama, graduated from Life University in 1999 with his Doctorate of Chiropractic. He moved to Anthem, Arizona in 2003 and opened his wellness center. Dr. Hester's mission is to provide people in the North Phoenix area, with the tools they need to identify stressors in their life and the underlying causes of their health challenges. With Dr. Hester as a health partner, patients can make positive lifestyle changes and take control of their lives...... see more
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