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High Blood Pressure: Food and Drinks to Avoid

High Blood Pressure: Food and Drinks to Avoid

High blood pressure, known as hypertension, affects a large majority of the world’s population. It is a pretty common condition, even more so with the modern diet that unfortunately consists of loads of fatty, processed goodies. 

Diet can have the most significant impact on your blood pressure and your overall health. 

According to Healthline, salty and sugary foods, and foods high in saturated fats, can increase blood pressure. Avoiding them can help you get and maintain a healthy blood pressure.

What exactly is hypertension and High Blood Pressure?

Your body’s blood pressure depends on the amount of blood your heart pumps, as well as the amount of resistance to blood flow in your arteries. The more blood your heart pumps and the narrower your arteries, the higher your blood pressure, Mayo Clinic explains.

Hypertension is the condition where the long-term force of the blood against your artery walls is high enough to cause problems such as heart disease, stroke and other symptoms that will need to be managed with lifelong medications.

What is a normal blood pressure reading?

When the heart contracts, it pushes blood out of the chambers of the heart; we refer to this action as ‘pumping’. The contraction exerts a force on the body’s arteries. These arteries deliver blood to the tissues. This force is what we call the ‘systolic blood pressure’ the number on the top of the reading. 

Then, when the heart relaxes, the blood refills the heart’s chambers. This relaxation creates another pressure in the arteries at rest. Called the diastolic blood pressure, this is the bottom number in your measurement, explains Diet Doctor.

A normal blood pressure is any systolic number under 120 and any diastolic number under 80, measured in millimetres of mercury, or mm Hg. This is written as 120/80 or called “120 over 80”. 

What are the symptoms?

Hypertension develops slowly and is prevalent in the elderly and obese.  

Funny enough, many people have hypertension without any symptoms, but the damage is still being done on the inside of the body; it damages your blood vessels and organs, especially the brain, heart, eyes and kidneys. Hypertension damages blood vessels. If left unattended, or in most cases undiagnosed, it increases your risk of serious health problems. Many people only find out that they are ill when they experience traumatic medical events such as a heart attack or stroke.

However, hypertension is easily detected. If you know you have hypertension, you can work with your doctor to control it.

The most common symptoms occur when the person has had a particularly fatty or salty meal. Headaches, swelling, nausea and even lethargy have been reported by sufferers. Some feel as if their heart is pounding loudly and fast. Other patients have reported a feeling of general malaise and needing to lie down and ‘catch their breath’. 

There are two types of hypertension, each with a different cause. One is called Primary Hypertension and the other secondary hypertension. Primary hypertension usually develops over time with no identifiable cause. This is the more common type.

The exact cause hasn’t been identified, although there are theories: genes, physical changes and the environment have all been considered as factors in the development of this condition.

With regard to physical changes, Healthline explains: If something changes in your body, you may begin experiencing issues, and hypertension may be one of those issues. For example, it is thought that changes in your kidney function owing to ageing may upset the body’s natural balance of salts and fluid. This change may cause your body’s blood pressure to increase.

Lifestyle changes

If you are diagnosed with hypertension, your doctor will most likely suggest that you make immediate dietary and lifestyle changes. 

You will immediately need to limit the amount of salt in your food. Salt affects the blood pressure by making it harder for your kidneys to remove fluid. This fluid builds up in your body and increases your blood pressure.

A heart-healthy diet will manage hypertension that is under control and will reduce the risk of complications; this diet includes loads of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins like fish and chicken breast.

You will also need to add exercise to your daily routine. Reaching a healthy weight requires regular physical activity. Exercise will also help reduce stress, lower blood pressure naturally and strengthen your cardiovascular system.

Medication

The medications that are commonly used to treat hypertension include: Beta-blockers, diuretics and ACE inhibitors. 

Diuretics make you urinate more frequently and shed water weight. It helps the kidneys flush out any waste liquid that it isn’t strong enough to expel on its own. It removes the sodium from the body. 

ACE inhibitors remove angiotensin, a chemical that causes blood vessels and artery walls to tighten and narrow. ACE (angiotensin converting enzyme) inhibitors prevent the body from producing the same amount of this chemical. This helps blood vessels to relax and reduces the pressure, Healthline explains. 

Beta-Blockers relax the heart and slow the heart rate. It takes the stress off the muscle and stops certain hormones in your body that can raise your blood pressure.

Learn more about lowering your blood pressure here!

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