Updated: Oct 9, 2019
For as long as I can remember, my mom has had high blood pressure. Most kids would hear their dad yell from the front seat, "Quit horsing around, you're raising my blood pressure!" Except our mom would actually mean it. And she most definitely said those exact words to us on multiple occasions. Whether or not her blood pressure was ACTUALLY being raised at that moment or she just wanted 4 seconds of peace and quiet remains to be seen. Hypertension was a part of her life since she was 18. EIGHTEEN! Can you believe that? If you know my mom, it almost makes sense though. She's basically Super Woman, always on the go, doing things the right way (HER way), and is mega intense. That doesn't exactly lead to serenity and peacefulness. On top of that, she's always been the type of person that could eat WHATEVER she wanted with zero consequences. So it's not like she was eating fish and kale her whole life. Once she hit 40, things started to change, and her body just couldn't deal. Her blood pressure was...um...high. ON medication, she was at 180/95. If you have no idea what those numbers mean--just know, that's not good.
I share that with you to show my heart behind all of this. I made it my mission, because I saw the danger with my mom, to be able to HOLISTICALLY eliminate diseases like hypertension. Whether you are trying to work yourself off of medication or wanting to avoid it altogether, let's jump into a few different ways to lower your blood pressure. 1) Get rid of the inflammation in your diet. If you weren't already aware, 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. When we eat foods that inflame those vessels, it makes blood pump even harder. Which then raises your blood pressure even more. We put our bodies in a chronic state of inflammation by eating foods made or covered in flour, sugar, or oil. Fries, donuts, cereal, cookies. Even your whole grain breads and “sugar free” items are inflammatory. Pretty much any food that is "made" and not simply "grown." We want to stick to a whole food diet, filled with one-ingredient items. Grass-fed meats (yep-you and red meat can go get on with your bad selves), wild caught fish, fresh vegetables and fruits, sweet potatoes, quinoa, nuts, and good oils like olive, coconut, and avocado. FUEL your body instead of just filling it. Plus, you won’t be consuming anything that sticks to the inside of those vessels (AKA: our old friend cholesterol) that further narrows the blood flow path.
2) Increase cardio. Now notice I didn't say "go run a marathon" or "compete in a Cross-Fit games." The catch 22 of increasing your cardio is that you need to do it in a way that doesn't raise your blood pressure too high. My advice: start small and work your way up.If your current cardio includes carrying your chips from the pantry to the couch or walking upstairs to your bed each night, you're definitely going to wanna start simple like speed walking around the block. After a week or two, work your way up to being able to jog one lap with a walking lap before and after. Or can go low impact like cycling or swimming.
Strength training is another great option. Building muscle while conditioning your heart is one of the best things you can do (and is another great low impact option.) Home gym, at the park, big box gym—there are lots of choices. I can’t say it enough, START SMALL! All that matters is that you start. Anything above and beyond what you normally do will have an impact. I highly recommend our Function Training Center here at Back to Health of Anthem. Our trainers are professionals who pride themselves on building workouts specifically tailored for each person and their goals.
3) 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. I know, I know, they’re for “old people." But I have to admit, I bought one a few months ago and it was the best $3 I've ever spent! Our grandmas knew what was up. A while back, I wrote about the 6 essential vitamins everyone should be taking. But with hypertension, we need to add a couple more: hawthorn and garlic. My botanicals professor in Chiro school had super high blood pressure in college so he started taking hawthorn regularly. After 6 months, it was gone. GONE! That’s the great thing about botanicals and herbs, they aren't band-aids for a bigger problem. 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, call us up for an in-depth Blood Analysis. It's a great way to determine your needs.
4) Increase specific foods in your diet while decreasing others. Isn't it cool that the right foods can not only fuel our bodies but can also help heal our bodies? Some great foods known for reducing blood pressure are celery, garlic, pomegranate, ground flaxseed, and beets. On the flip side, you've got to eliminate some foods, and this one won't really be all that of a shocker: salt. Adding salt to food and eating 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. The more water we retain, the higher volume of blood we have which further increases the stress on our arteries. No bueno. This is why if you ask any doctor, their first dietary recommendation for a patient with hypertension is sodium reduction.
5) Make relaxation part of your day. I can already hear you. "If I had time to relax, my blood pressure wouldn't be so high!" I get it. Again, start small. Even if it's just 10 minutes a day sitting in your room with the door locked so your kids can’t barge in, it'll help. You can find a relaxation playlist on Spotify or Pandora or even a worship station (you might grab some ear buds too to help drown out the kids banging on the door that you locked.) Find something that works for YOU and helps remove the thoughts of everything going on in your life. Find a comfy spot, sit up straight (I'm not trying to be your mom here, it actually helps give you maximum oxygen intake) and concentrate on deep breaths. This time can be spent in prayer, listening to the music, or completely zoning out. The important part is that you can just relax.
BONUS: Add essential oils to your nighttime routine. Again, one of those cool things that products made from plants can actually help heal your body. There are essential oils that can help lower your blood pressure AND help your body relax. Some great ones to try are lavender, frankincense, bergamot, clary sage, ylang ylang, and jasmine. You can have a diffuser next to your bed so they will not only help you get to sleep easier but can help the healing process while you sleep!
Left untreated, high blood pressure can be extremely dangerous. But there is hope! 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 are ready to help get you on the path to a healthier you!