Basics

Hypertension, Diet and Exercise

Hypertension or high blood pressure is a disease that has medical cure. It is a condition that can be controlled and managed by taking the required medication, making lifestyle changes and making changes to our diet.

Let us take up each of these things one by one.

Diet
Diet is the foremost thing that your general practitioner would look into and suggest changes if necessary.

Ideally your diet should be based on the recommendations of the dietary approaches to stop hypertension (DASH). Eat fresh fruits, vegetables and foods that are low in fats and avoid dairy products, fatty meat and sweets. Consume whole grain products, fish, poultry and nuts. These products help to lower cholesterol and reduce blood pressure and are rich in vitamins ad minerals such as potassium, calcium and magnesium.

Following is an example of a typical DASH diet -

Vegetables: 4-5 daily servings
Meat, poultry and fish: 2 or less daily servings
Fruits: 4-5 daily servings
Low-fat or fat-free dairy products: 2-3 daily servings
Fats and oils: 2-3 daily servings
Grains: 7-8 daily servings
Nuts, seeds, and dry beans: 4-5 servings per week
Sweets: try to limit to less than 5 servings per week

Ensure that you reduce the amount of salt in your recipes and avoid canned and pre-processed foods that are high in sodium chloride. Salt increases the blood pressure and if you are above 40 you should cut down on its consumption.

Exercise
Regular exercise has a number of benefits. It helps to prevent heart disease, reduce cholesterol, reduces aging and helps to control your blood pressure. A sedentary lifestyle on the other hand results in a number of health related problems; hypertension is just one of them. Begin a regular exercise program after consulting your doctor. Start with brisk walking for at least 30 minutes every day. You can divide the 30 minutes into separate sessions in case time is a constraint.

Regular exercise will help not only to reduce your blood pressure but also help you to fight off stress and anxiety, two of the other factors that add to an individual’s susceptibility to hypertension.

Lifestyle changes

Alcohol
Alcohol consumption in moderation is considered okay and may even be recommended in certain circumstances. In moderation is the key phrase, as abuse or excessive consumption of alcohol will have an adverse effect on your health and will contribute to hypertension.

Smoking
Smoking under any circumstances is not recommended at all. If you are a smoker, remember that there is no difference between a single cigarette and a pack a day. Even a single cigarette causes damage and results in arterial constriction, raising your blood pressure.

Remember that with a healthy lifestyle, diet and plenty of exercise you can control  and even eliminate hypertension.