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5 Ways to Control Hypertension

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High blood pressure is the reason for various health problems such as heart failure and stroke. The normal blood pressure for an average adult is below 120/80. The 120 denotes the pressure while your heart is contracting and 80 is the pressure while your heart is relaxing. When the number exceeds the range of 120/80 – 139/89,  you are at the risk of hypertension and related problems.

How To Control High Blood Pressure

As with many of our health concerns, hypertension can be averted to an extent or managed by making lifestyle changes.

  • Be active: You could either hit the gym or take some time to jog around your neighborhood in the morning. The goal is to get your blood flow going. Exercise increases your blood flow, so it becomes easier for your heart to pump blood throughout your body.
  • Watch what you drop into your shopping cart: Food labels and the ingredients table are there for a reason. Eat more vegetables and adopt a high-fiber diet and cut back on processed food like canned goods or junk food.
  • Reset your sleep cycle: We often forget how important a balanced sleep cycle really is. Studies show that erratic sleep patterns increase blood pressure, so get a good night’s sleep every day.
  • Reduce alcohol intake: While you may drink to unwind, it apparently has the opposite effect on your heart! High or uncontrolled alcohol intake is linked to elevated blood pressure levels.
  • Try yoga & meditation: A discussion about de-stressing is never complete without mentioning yoga and meditation. Regular meditation or yoga can help your lifestyle in general, apart from taking care of your heart. Meditation also helps reset your sleep cycle, which, in turn, is good for your heart.

Can A Vegetarian Diet Lower Cholesterol Levels?

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Letting go of meat might seem like a hard task, but when faced with the dangers of high cholesterol, you might be looking to make changes in your lifestyle to tackle the problem. Does a vegetarian diet really translate to lower cholesterol levels?

What Research Shows

Many studies have been carried out across the globe on the effect of a vegetarian diet on cholesterol levels. Almost all of them show that a vegetarian diet does reduce cholesterol levels.

The studies also established that, apart from reducing cholesterol levels, a vegetarian diet reduces the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, and even some forms of cancer.

How Does A Vegetarian Diet Lower Cholesterol?

There are many reasons a vegetarian diet reduces cholesterol. Most of the research points to the nutritional value of vegetarian food. A vegetarian diet is low in saturated fat and rich in soluble fiber, plant steroids, and soy protein. This type of diet results in lower body weight, which in turn reduces the chance of any type of heart disease.

A Balanced Vegetarian Diet Is Key

When planning your vegetarian meals, it is important to ensure you are getting a balanced diet which provides you with all the required nutrients at the right amounts.

  • Protein: You need to ensure that you compensate for the protein that you will be missing out on when you cut out meat from your diet. Add foods like soy, tofu, pulses, and legumes as they are all rich in protein.
  • Iron: Vegetarians might find that they are at a higher risk for iron deficiency than others who have a meat-rich diet. You should add protein-rich foods like spinach, dried beans, and yeast into your diet. You can also talk to your healthcare provider about iron supplements.
  • Vitamin B12: This is a nutrient that is known to have a positive effect on heart disease and is, unfortunately, lacking in the vegetarian diet. You can correct this deficiency by adding dried seaweed or nori to your diet or by taking a daily supplement.
  • Zinc: You will find this mineral in grains, nuts, and legumes.
  • Vitamin D: If you’ve decided to go the extra mile and have adopted a vegan diet, then the lack of dairy products in your diet could cause a deficiency in vitamin D. In this case as well, it is best to discuss the same with your doctor and get a prescription for vitamin D.

Understanding Blood Pressure Readings

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Blood pressure is the pressure your blood exerts when it thrusts on the artery walls during circulation. Not many people, however, know that blood pressure keeps altering all the time. The way you sit, walk, exercise, and even eat may affect the blood pressure. Your mood and state of mind also alter your blood pressure

The Two Numbers In Your Blood Pressure Readings 

Blood pressure is measured in terms of the levels of mercury (mm of Hg). When your doctor examines your blood pressure level, there will be two numbers on the display: The first is the systolic pressure and the other is diastolic pressure.

  • The first reading or the systolic pressure is noted when the sound of the blood flow is first heard.
  • The second reading or the diastolic pressure is noted when the blood flow cannot be heard

Both these numbers determine your heart health and overall health.

The Four Categories Of Blood Pressure Readings  

Blood pressure readings can be categorized into four, starting from normal to hypertension state which is stage 2. Like we said, blood pressure alters from time to time depending on the body activity, stress levels, lifestyle and food habits. This is one reason your doctor takes an average of at least three to four readings to determine heart health accurately.

  1. A reading below 120/80 mm Hg is considered normal blood pressure range. Readings that are above or below this ideal range indicates that your heart is working extra hard work to pump the required blood to the rest of your body.
  2. You have elevated blood pressure if the reading ranges 120–129/below 80 mm Hg. By making healthy lifestyle changes, you can bring down this reading.
  3. Stage 1 high blood pressure, commonly known as hypertension, is associated with a reading range of 130–139/80–89 mm Hg. Your doctor might suggest definitive lifestyle changes along with medication.
  4. Any reading above 140/90 is considered stage 2 high blood pressure. Your doctor will definitely suggest medication along with exercise and healthy lifestyle modifications.

The blood pressure range for children may be slightly lower. Also, adults aged 65 years and over can be considered healthy with a blood pressure range of 130/99 mm Hg. However, it is again advisable to get yourself checked regularly.

5 Surprising Causes of High Blood Pressure

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While high blood pressure is often attributed to excessive salt intake, uncontrolled alcohol consumption, or high stress levels, other less obvious triggers from our daily lives can cause hypertension. Here is a list of the not-so-obvious causes of high blood pressure:

  1. BPA

BPA or Bisphenol A is an industrial chemical used in the production of plastics. BPA present in plastic cans and containers usually seeps into the food we eat and causes high blood pressure very quickly.  Prolonged exposure may play a role in heart diseases as well. Use BPA-free containers and avoid microwaving food in cans that have BPA content.

2. Noise

A noisy environment, especially at night, disrupts the sleep cycle. A poor night’s sleep is a known reason for increasing stress levels and thus causing hypertension. Try to sleep in a peaceful environment and avoid noisy areas as much as possible to keep your blood pressure in check.

3. Air Pollution

Dodging air pollution can be a challenge in our times, but know that breathing polluted air is a major reason for hypertension. Avoid walking or exercising on busy roads that see a lot of traffic and try to stay indoors on days that are highly polluted.

4. Coffee

Caffeine in coffee contains stimulants that increase blood pressure and can cause serious damage over time. Limit your intake of coffee to one cup per day and avoid aerated drinks that contain concentrated caffeine altogether.

5. Potatoes

Potatoes may be the ultimate comfort food but it can cause blood sugar levels to rise. Try to reduce your intake of potatoes to a maximum of four servings a week to avoid an increase in your blood pressure levels.

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