High blood pressure: Lifestyle changes to reduce reading
High blood pressure is famously branded the “silent killer” because it is symptomless. The process – whereby the force of blood pushing your artery walls is consistently too high – can therefore sneak up on you and raise your risk of heart disease. Fortunately, making simple dietary modifications can lower high blood pressure.
A lesser-known dietary item that has boasted blood pressure-lowering capabilities is natto.
Natto is a staple probiotic food in traditional Japanese cuisine that’s made from fermented soybeans.
The fermentation of natto produces an enzyme called nattokinase.
Studies have found that supplementing with this enzyme helped reduce diastolic and systolic blood pressure.
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Diastolic and systolic blood pressure are the numbers used to record your blood pressure. They are measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg).
In a Japanese study lasting eight weeks, diastolic and systolic blood pressure dropped by 2.84 and 5.55 mmHg, respectively.
What’s more, in a North American study also lasting eight weeks, diastolic and systolic blood pressure dropped by three and four mmHg, respectively.
Furthermore, in a study of 12 young Japanese men, one-time supplementation with nattokinase helped prevent and dissolve blood clots.
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General dietary tips to lower high blood pressure
It is imperative to watch your salt intake because the more salt you eat, the higher your blood pressure can be.
According to the NHS, you should aim to eat less than six grams (0.2oz) of salt a day, which is about a teaspoonful.
“Eating a low-fat diet that includes lots of fibre, such as wholegrain rice, bread and pasta, and plenty of fruit and vegetables also helps lower blood pressure,” explains the health body.
It adds: “Regularly drinking too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure over time.”
What are the recommended guidelines?
Staying within the recommended levels is the best way to reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure:
- Men and women are advised not to regularly drink more than 14 units of alcohol a week
- Spread your drinking over three days or more if you drink as much as 14 units a week.
Maintaining a physically active lifestyle offers a robust way of lowering high blood pressure.
How? “Regular physical activity makes your heart stronger. A stronger heart can pump more blood with less effort,” explains the Mayo Clinic.
According to the health body, if your heart can work less to pump, the force on your arteries decreases, lowering your blood pressure.
“Becoming more active can lower your systolic blood pressure — the top number in a blood pressure reading — by an average of four to nine mm Hg,” it adds.
That’s as good as some blood pressure medications.
How do I know if I have high blood pressure?
The only way of knowing whether you have high blood pressure is to have a blood pressure test.
All adults over the age of 40 are advised to have their blood pressure checked at least every five years.
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