If your doctor’s telling you that you have high blood pressure, take it seriously. Your best solution is preventing it in the first place, or at least mitigating it. You can help to avoid it or deal with it through what you eat. Nutrition is not all and all when it comes to high blood pressure, but it can help you more than you might think.

What is high blood pressure?

Blood pressure refers to the force your blood exerts on the walls of your blood vessels. Otherwise known as hypertension, high blood pressure refers to a state where the pressure in your arteries is higher than it should be. 

Blood pressure is captured and recorded by your doctor as two figures: systolic and diastolic. The systolic pressure is recorded when the heartbeats. Diastolic refers to the pressure that exists between beats. Normal figures for an adult are less than 120/80. If your systolic figures are 120-129, you have ‘elevated blood pressure. At 130 or more, with a diastolic 80 or higher that remains high over a period of time, you have high blood pressure.

Having high blood pressure increases your risk of heart attack or stroke, so it’s definitely not something to be ignored. 

How do you get high blood pressure?

Many people end up with it through a combination of factors, including things they can’t control, like family history, age, gender (men are more likely), and ethnicity. There are other risk factors that you can control, however. Such as?

  • Smoking
  • Being overweight
  • Having unmanaged high cholesterol
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Eating an unhealthy diet, particularly foods that are high in sodium

What can be done if you are diagnosed with high blood pressure?

Your doctor might recommend medication to control your blood pressure but there are a lot of non-medical modalities that you can follow to help yourself too:

  • Stop smoking.
  • Get more physically active, in as much as your mobility permits it. A personal care provider or senior companion can help you with this, if you are concerned about your mobility.
  • Watch your alcohol intake (which is good for you for MANY reasons, not the least of which is blood pressure!)
  • Improve your diet. 

How can I change my eating habits to help with elevated or high blood pressure?

The single biggest contributor to high blood pressure is too much sodium. Why? Because the elevated salt levels in your bloodstream make it harder for your kidneys to remove necessary water from your blood. The result is excess water in your blood, which strains your blood vessels, creating high blood pressure.

Reducing your sodium intake means more than stopping yourself from using the salt shaker on the table! You need to read labels and check the sodium levels of the foods you’re eating. Packaged food can have very high sodium levels, and if you’ve ever read the label on your average can of soup, you’ll see that!

Stick to making your meals, rather than resorting to packaged meals, and aim for fruits, vegetables, lean meats, fish and whole grains. If you do need to use packaged foods, try to keep your total sodium intake for the day under 1500 mg. It’s easy to calculate if you check the labels!

Choosing foods that are high in potassium can also offset the effects of sodium, helping your kidneys to do their job. Like what?

  • Bananas
  • Melons (honeydew, cantaloupe)
  • Cooked broccoli
  • White beans
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Beets
  • Dried prunes, raisins and dates

Keep on a eye on the pressure

A homecare provider can take care of this for you, on a regular basis, as well as help you make some healthy food choices that will help you avoid or reduce high blood pressure. The better in home care you get, the better you’ll feel for a long time to come!

If you or an aging loved one are considering in-home senior care in Atlanta, please call the compassionate, caring staff at Mothers Helping Hands Home Care.  Call Today! 470-260-4137.