7 Ways To Reduce Your
Blood Pressure Naturally
By Angela Hartley
on 27 May 2021
Welcome! In this guide, we will show you 7 easy steps that you can take to help lower your blood pressure.
As each person is different, please consult with your doctor before beginning any programme to reduce your blood pressure. The information outlined in this book is intended as a guide only and must be used in conjunction with medical advice. We cannot accept any responsibility for injury or adverse effects that occur.
Ensure that you have your blood pressure regularly monitored by a health professional. Ensure that you have your doctor's confirmation that it is safe to exercise before starting any programme or changing your diet.
Please seek immediate help from your local doctor or hospital if you feel unwell.
Step #1: Lose Weight
Blood pressure (BP) often increases as weight increases. Losing just 4.5kg (10lb) can help reduce your BP.
In general, the more weight you lose, the lower your BP. Losing weight also makes any medications you're taking more effective.
Keep an eye on your waistline. Carrying too much weight around your waist can put you at greater risk of high BP. Men should have a waist less than 40 inches (102cm) and women's waist measurement should be less than 35 inches (89 cm). Measure 2cm above your belly button.
Tips To Lose Weight
- Drink more water - Often when we reach for snacks or overeat it is because we are dehydrated.
- Avoid added sugar - Products that 'sneak' sugar in include yoghurt, sauces, dressings, cereals, muesli bars - limit these. The first week will be hard, after that you won't miss sugar at all!
- Swap carbohydrates for veggies - Try courgette or carrot spirals, or simply add an extra serving of veggies to your plate - they will fill you up and after a few nights you won't miss the carbs.
- Avoid drinks that aren't water or teas - Avoid soft drinks, juices, cordials, flavoured milks and alcohol!
Step #2: Exercise Regularly
Regular physical activity — at least 30 to 60 minutes most days of the week — can lower your BP by 4-9 mmHg. And it doesn't take long to see a difference.
If you haven't been active for a while, increasing your exercise level can lower your BP within just a few weeks.
Even moderate activity for 10 minutes at a time, such as walking and light strength training, can help reduce your BP.
Start out slowly and build up the difficulty gradually. Overdoing exercise does not do your body any favours and does not increase your fitness more quickly.
Tips To Exercise Safely
- Buy a heart rate monitor and wear it whilst you are exercising. Talk to us about what is a safe heart rate for your age and based on the medications you are taking.
- Start out with a 10 minute warm up for any exercise that you are going to do. This could be marching on the spot, stepping up and down on a step, walking slowly around the block or cycling slowly.
- You should be able to talk while you are exercising. If you are gasping for breath, slow down until you catch your breath.
- Build up slowly - even adding a few minutes to your walking routine adds up.
- Always slow down if you feel breathless or uncomfortable. Rest for as long as you need.
- Don't exercise if you feel unwell.
Step #3: Choose Healthy Food
Foods to include in a healthy diet:
- Start the day with a mug of warm water and a squeeze of lemon.
- Aim for 5-7 serves of vegetables per day.
- Aim for 3-4 serves of lean protein per day - good sources include chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, beans, lentils.
- Try to eat 2-3 serves of good fats per day - good fats include avocado, oily fish like salmon or mackerel, nuts, seeds and olive oil
- Aim to eat 1-2 pieces of fruit per day.
- Drink 1.5-2L of water per day (check with your doctor first if you should be on a fluid restriction.)
Foods to avoid:
- Processed food and added sugar (biscuits, cakes, chocolate, sweets, packaged foods).
- Refined carbohydrates (bread, pasta, junk food, foods made with white flour).
- Juices, soft drinks and milkshakes/smoothies (they are high in sugar).
- Takeaways - there is often a lot of added salt, oil and sugar.
- Chips when eating out - they are deep fried in poor quality vegetable oil.
- Large portions of any foods - your body only needs small amounts of food regularly. Try to avoid eating to the point of feeling 'stuffed'.
Making Healthy Food Choices
- Keep a food diary: Writing down what you eat, even for just a week, can shed light on your true eating habits. Monitor what you eat, how much, when and how you felt before and after.
- Make a shopping list before heading to the supermarket to avoid picking up junk food.
- Only shop when you aren't hungry! You are less likely to pick unhealthy snacks.
- Read food labels when you shop and stick to your healthy-eating plan when you're dining out, too. There are usually healthy options on the menu, just ask your waiter.
- Tell your family and friends about your new way of eating - they will support you and can help you to make healthy choices.
Step #4: Reduce Alcohol
Alcohol can be both good and bad for your health. In small amounts, it can potentially lower your blood pressure by 2 to 4 mm Hg.
The protective effect is lost if you drink too much alcohol — generally more than one drink a day for women and two for men.
Alcohol can reduce the effectiveness of medications - check with your
pharmacist to find out any interactions.
Consider tapering off. If you're a heavy drinker, suddenly eliminating all alcohol can actually trigger severe high blood pressure and other side effects for several days. When you stop drinking, do it with the supervision of your doctor or taper off slowly, over one to two weeks.
Avoid binge drinking - there is nothing good to say about this.
Step #5: Stop Smoking
It may sound obvious, but avoid smoking and secondhand smoke.
On top of all the other chemicals in cigarettes, the nicotine in tobacco products can raise your BP by 10 mm Hg or more for up to an hour after you smoke.
Smoking throughout the day means your BP may remain constantly high.
Every time the body takes in cigarette smoke, the arteries constrict, increasing your heart rate and BP.
Smoking can also cause a build up of plaque in the arteries, causing blockages & leading to heart attack or stroke.
Tips To Quit Smoking
- Pick a 'Quit' date in the not too distant future and stick to it. Put it in your calendar, tell all of your family, friends and colleagues and get prepared.
- Choose tools that will help you in the early days - gum, patches and E-cigarettes can all help reduce the withdrawal symptoms. Your GP and pharmacist can help advise what is best for you.
- Avoid friends and family who smoke for a few weeks until you feel stronger being around them. Better still - enlist them to quit too!
- Take each day as it comes, some will be harder than others but keep in mind that once you have quit your BP, health, energy, breath etc will dramatically improve and you will prevent future health problems.
Step #6: Reduce Caffeine
The role caffeine plays in blood pressure is still debatable. Coffee seems to affect each individual differently.
To see if caffeine raises your blood pressure, check it just before you drink your coffee and then again within 30 minutes of drinking a cup of coffee or another caffeinated drink. If your blood pressure increases by five to 10 points, you may be sensitive to the blood pressure raising effects of caffeine.
Caffeine can also increase you levels of adrenaline and cortisol, making you feel more jittery and affect your sleep.
Easy Ways To Reduce Caffeine
- Take a few days to wean down on the amount of caffeine you drink to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
- Start by swapping one of your caffeinated drinks for water or another caffeine free beverage.
- Swap one of your caffeinated drinks for decaf.
- Avoid caffeine after 4pm - drinking it late into the night means you sleep worse, which makes you tired and needing caffeine the next morning!
- Increase your water intake - often you crave coffee as a 'pick me up' when you are dehydrated.
Step #7: Reduce Stress
Stress or anxiety can temporarily increase blood pressure so it's important to reduce where possible.
Think about what causes you to feel stressed, such as work, family, finances or illness. Once you know what's causing your stress, consider how you can eliminate or reduce stress e.g. by delegating tasks, saying 'no' more or by asking others for help.
If you can't eliminate all of your stressors, try to manage with them in a healthier way. See the next page for tips.
Try not to let stress build up - it's better to deal with small problems sooner rather than letting them build up.
Tips To Reduce Stress
- Enlist a support network - often the people that care about your most don't know that you are stressed - they are usually more than happy to help if you ask.
- Take breaks for deep-breathing exercises. Deep breathing for just a few minutes each day has been shown to help relax the body and mind and can improve your blood pressure.
- Have a massage or try yoga or meditation.
- Regular walking also helps to de-stress as well as has great fitness benefits.
- Find an activity that you enjoy & book it in every week - our lives are now so busy so schedule it in! Ideas include reading a book, catching up with a friend, watching a movie - whatever you like to do!