How to get and keep your blood pressure down better under stress.
Blood pressure greater than 120/80 is too high! Even pre-hypertensive range; greater than 120/80 and less than 140/90 has long-term consequences of organ damage. Blood pressures greater than 140/90 have similar consequences as in the prehypertensive range, only more damage and sooner; the higher the pressure, the more damage, the quicker damage happens.
As we get older, one out of every two people has high blood pressure. This state of chronic under oxygenation of our tissues is directly tied to stress. Things in our lives being "out of control", having little to no say over, and dealing with the consequences is a core mind-body component to the diagnosis of essential hypertension. For those of us who do not get a reprieve from inordinate amounts of stress, TAKE BACK YOUR POWER!!!!
5 Ways to Get & Keep Your Pressure Down
1. High Blood Pressure is not Silent! Listen for the Subtle Signs
While hypertension has been called the "silent killer", it is not silent. It quietly screams through subtle signs and symptoms that let you know things are awry: a hot, prickly sensation going up the side of your face or neck, a whistling like heart-beat sound in your ear, being tired, irritated, agitated, no energy, headaches these are all signs that your blood pressure could be above safe range. When any of these symptoms occur, take note. Check your blood pressure with an at-home cuff so you know for sure if there is a correlation. Record your pressures so you can see what successfully intervenes and gets that pressure down. This is a great way for you to have a more conscious relationship with your body and regain control.
2. Let Food be your Medicine
Beets contain nitrates which help to dilate blood vessels. It also helps to repair the lining of the arteries.
Celery acts as a diuretic, a calcium channel blocker, and has vasodilator properties
Cucumber is loaded with potassium and acts as a diuretic
Collards contain phytonutrients that help to repair the lining of the arteries, are loaded with potassium and calcium, and help to lower cholesterol when juiced or steamed/stir-fried for 5-7 minutes
See the Pressure Down Juice recipe. Consume daily and see results!
Pressure Down Juice
5-6 Collard Leaves
1 Apple, preferably green
4-6 Celery Ribs
Juice the collard leaves, followed by the beet, celery, apple, lemon, and cucumber. Add the watery vegetables last to flush out the remaining nutrients from the juicer.
Start with drinking 4-8 oz. of juice daily. Work up to 16 oz. daily.
Variations – Add ½ bunch of parsley. Use a mixture of collard and kale leaves, or just kale.
Advisory - People with diabetes should limit beet intake. Alternatively, you can make this juice without beets. Eating beets can lead to elevated blood sugars.
Let Go of the Sodium
High sodium foods retain more fluids increasing the volume that the heart & kidneys have to work to manage. This causes the blood pressure to increase. Aim to keep your salt intake low; no more MSG & added salt or salty sauces, find new ways to season your foods (coming up in future blogs, stay tuned)
Herbs, Spices & Teas
Hibiscus is a pleasant way to get your pressure down. This tasty herbal drink has diuretic properties.
Hawthorne Berry Tea acts like a beta-blocker, slows the heart rate, and helps with anxiety
If you are trying to please your palate while lowering your salt intake, load up on thyme, cinnamon, and cardamom seeds. All these spices can help to lower your pressure
3. Get Your Endorphins On!!!
Whether you are moving in a chair, walking, swimming, running, dancing, working out at the gym, increasing blood flow/circulation is a sure way to increase oxygenation to all your tissues. With maintained aerobic activity, you are sure to produce the ahhhh!!! hormone, endorphins which can help with relieving stress and lower your pressure.
4. Mind-Body Therapies to Calm
Walk in nature, close out your day with calming music, learn mindfulness, meditation, relaxation techniques to help lower stress levels.
5. Medication: First or Last Resort?
If you cannot get your pressure down without medications, seek a healthcare provider you can trust to find the best meds to help protect you from the damage of uncontrolled high blood pressure. For many with refractory hypertension, it takes an all-in approach of medications, exercise, stress management, low sodium foods, and supplementation to get better control, enhance oxygenation and reduce organ damage.
Jifunza C.A. Wright-Carter M.D., M.P.H is a family physician practicing the "art of medicine" using food & plant medicines to improve the health and well being of patients through self-care for over 30 years. In addition to studying herbs and natural medicines since she was a child, she is a graduate of Case Western Reserve Medical School, alumni of Cook County & Montefiore Family Practice Residency Programs. She received public health training at Johns Hopkins, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Maryland. She has a private practice in Chicago Illinois and does organic farming in Pembroke Twp. Illinois. If you have any questions or need support, please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org