High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is one of the most common health conditions worldwide, affecting 1.28 billion adults across the globe. That includes almost 120 million Americans, or between 36 and 45 percent of the U.S. population, according to different sources.
What to know about high blood pressure
While there’s no known cure, you can control high blood pressure without medication and live a long, healthy life. The first step is understanding what causes it in the first place.
What causes high blood pressure?
Hypertension is a complex condition influenced by various factors, but extensive research has associated it with poor eating habits and other lifestyle choices. In some cases, it may instead be caused by an underlying health issue or medication.
No matter the cause of your hypertension, it’s a serious health concern with far-reaching consequences. It can contribute to the development of cardiovascular and kidney diseases, among other potentially life-threatening conditions. So it’s crucial to start taking proactive steps to manage your blood pressure right away.
Is there a cure for high blood pressure?
There’s no ultimate cure for hypertension. The conventional medical treatment typically involves daily medication combined with healthy lifestyle habits–which you’ll likely need to stick with for the rest of your life.
However, relying on medication can cause unpleasant side effects, dependency, and additional complications. A recent study from the University of Virginia School of Medicine even found that long-term use of blood pressure medications may lead to kidney damage.
This is why there’s a growing need for alternative, natural strategies. Fortunately, we have some–and they’re quite effective.
How to control high blood pressure without medication
Try these natural remedies to manage hypertension, and–if you can–track their impact on your blood pressure levels. You may be surprised by how well they work–and how much better you feel.
- Avoid trigger foods
Certain foods are known to contribute to high blood pressure. One of the biggest offenders is salt or sodium.
While we need some salt for optimal health, too much can trigger or worsen hypertension. Limit the amount of salt you use in cooking, and try to keep your total sodium intake around 1,500 mg or fewer per day.
Some studies suggest avoiding raw salt altogether, as it can cause an immediate spike in blood pressure. You can easily avoid this by not adding extra salt to your plate.
Excessive sugar intake is also linked to high blood pressure, as it can lead to obesity and weight gain–two of the biggest risk factors of the condition.
Limit or avoid high-sodium and high-sugar foods, such as:
- Processed and cured meats
- Frozen meals and pizzas
- Canned soup
- Frozen or restaurant-purchased burritos or tacos
- Sugary drinks like sodas and teas
Making these dietary changes can be a positive step towards reducing your blood pressure naturally.
2. Try the DASH Diet
The DASH Diet, short for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, is a healthy eating plan designed to prevent or lower high blood pressure. It emphasizes foods that are rich in potassium, calcium, and magnesium while limiting sodium, saturated fat, and added sugars.
While it may be an adjustment if you’re used to eating a wider assortment of foods, there’s still plenty of variety to enjoy. On the DASH Diet, you’ll eat:
- Fresh vegetables and fruits
- Whole grains
- Low-fat dairy products
- Nuts and seeds
- Beans and legumes
- Poultry, fish, and other lean meats
- Monounsaturated fats like avocado and olive oil
In a recent study conducted at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, researchers compared the effectiveness of the DASH Diet in combination with low sodium intake to that of commonly prescribed blood pressure medications.
Participants with a baseline systolic blood pressure (the first number in a blood pressure reading) of 150 or higher experienced an impressive average reduction of 21 mmHg (millimeters of mercury). This outshines the typical effects of hypertension medications, which generally lower systolic blood pressure by only 10-15 mmHg.
Studies have also shown that following the DASH Diet can reduce total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol. So it’s truly a beneficial strategy for managing hypertension and boosting heart and artery health.
3. Eat foods proven to lower blood pressure
Including certain foods in your diet can further help you manage your hypertension. Here are some examples of blood-pressure-lowering foods to enjoy:
- Leafy greens
- Dark chocolate (opt for at least 70% cocoa)
- Prunes (eat about three per day)
These foods are particularly rich in flavonoids and polyphenols, which have been shown to have a positive effect on hypertension. Just make sure to enjoy your chocolate in moderation so you don’t overdo it on sugar.
4. Stay active
Excess weight is a major culprit behind high blood pressure. In fact, it’s estimated that 65 to 78 percent of cases of primary hypertension (the kind without any other known cause, such as kidney disease or medication) are linked to obesity.
If you’re carrying extra weight, it’s crucial to prioritize getting active and shedding some pounds. Even a daily walk around your neighborhood or a nearby park can work wonders.
Aim for 30 minutes of physical activity each day.
5. Reduce stress
While a direct, causal relationship between stress and hypertension hasn’t been fully established, studies show that stress can lead to temporary spikes in blood pressure and worsen existing hypertension.
Chronic stress can also have negative implications for heart and arterial health, exacerbating the issue. So it’s crucial to reduce stress in your life to keep your blood pressure in check.
Try incorporating proven stress management techniques into your daily routine, such as:
- Massage therapy
- Reframing negative thoughts and experiences in a more positive, empowering way
- Spending more time in nature
- Connecting with loved ones
In addition to the above strategies, make time for any other activities you find enjoyable whenever you can, such as creating art or listening to music. Studies show that the calmer and happier you are, the lower your risk of hypertension.
By prioritizing peace and joy in your life, you’ll not only improve your blood pressure but enhance your overall well-being.
6. Find the cause of your hypertension and develop a customized approach
Identifying the specific factors that contribute to your high blood pressure allows you to address them directly. Aside from unhealthy eating or inactivity, if you have high cholesterol or take medication, these may also cause or exacerbate your hypertension.
In the case of high cholesterol, the buildup of plaque and calcium deposits in the arteries leads to their narrowing and rigidity. This forces the heart to exert greater effort to pump blood through these constricted passages, resulting in elevated blood pressure.
Additionally, certain medications can contribute to elevated blood pressure, including:
- Over-the-counter pain medications like ibuprofen
- Decongestants like pseudoephedrine
- Some antidepressants
- Hormonal birth control pills
You can combat both high cholesterol and hypertension through dietary interventions, such as avoiding fried foods, following the DASH Diet, and adopting additional healthy lifestyle habits.
But if you’re taking one of the above medications or are still unsure what’s causing your hypertension, consult with your healthcare provider.
This is especially important because hypertension can be indicative of a serious underlying condition like kidney failure.
7. Try alternative medicine treatments
In addition to healthy lifestyle habits, alternative treatment options such as ozone treatment may help you control high blood pressure without medication.
While research on ozone’s benefits are limited, some animal studies show it can reduce blood pressure and effectively slow down the progression of hypertensive disease. This is because ozone acts as an anti-vasoconstrictor, preventing the narrowing of blood vessels and promoting better blood flow.
High blood pressure is a widespread health concern with serious implications. But you don’t have to resort to pharmaceuticals that can come with unwanted side effects and long-term risks.
By adopting healthy lifestyle habits like the ones mentioned above, you can control your blood pressure without medication and protect your heart health for years to come. These strategies offer a natural, safe way to boost your health and overall well-being.