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Taking charge of your Blood Pressure:

Around one in every eight people in India have high blood pressure and is one of the biggest health risk the global population faces today.

So what is blood pressure?

Blood pressure is the force of your blood pushing against the walls of your arteries. Each time your heart beats, it pumps blood into the arteries.

Healthy arteries are quite elastic. And they can adapt by stretching when the blood pressure varies occasionally on the higher side. But what happens when the blood pressure is high constantly for a longer period of time?

Over time, higher pressure can strain the heart and blood vessels increasing the risk of heart attack or stroke. High blood pressure can also cause heart and kidney disease.

So for your arteries & other organs to stay healthy, it’s important that your blood pressure be within a healthy range.

High blood pressure is mostly caused due to unhealthy lifestyle, unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, smoking, consumption of alcohol and being overweight/obese.

Here are lifestyle changes you can make to lower your BP

1] Maintaining a healthy weight, lose weight if you are overweight.

Losing even a small amount of weight if you're overweight or obese can help reduce your blood pressure. Cutting down on calories and getting regular physical activity can help you lose more weight and keep it off longer than only eating less or only exercising.

2] Exercise regularly

Regular physical activity — such as 150 minutes a week, or about 30 minutes most days of the week — can lower your blood pressure.

3] Reduce your stress

Chronic stress can contribute to high blood pressure. Those with heart conditions are often told to be as careful as possible about stress and anxiety because the amount of pressure it places on the heart can become very dangerous. Find ways to manage stress like meditation and deep breathing that activates the parasympathetic nervous system. This system is engaged when the body relaxes, slowing the heart rate and lowering blood pressure.

4] Quit Smoking and limit alcohol

Every puff of cigarette smoke causes a slight, temporary increase in blood pressure. The chemicals in tobacco are also known to damage blood vessels. Drinking alcohol in any quantity may raise your blood pressure. Limit your drinking to no more than one drink a day for women, two for men.

Dietary Approach

1] Eating a healthy diet:

Portion size along with variety of nutrients is important. Whole Grains, vegetables, fruits, low fat dairy products, lean meat, and certain fish should be part of everyday diet.

Eat more fruit and vegetables:

Fruit and vegetables are full of vitamins, minerals and fibre to keep your body in good condition. They also contain potassium, which can help to balance out the negative effects of salt. Adults should eat at least five different portions of fruit and vegetables per day. A portion is 100 grams, or roughly the size of your fist.

Avoid high intake of fats especially saturated fats:

As they are prone to atherosclerosis it is advisable to avoid high intake of fats. The type of fat you eat is also important. Avoid eating too much saturated fat. This is usually found in red meats, butter, palm oil. Polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats can be found in olive oil, nuts or sunflower oil. Unlike saturated fat, these fats will not raise your cholesterol levels. However they will still cause you to gain weight if you eat too much.

2] Reducing salt/sodium in your diet

Indians eat more salt and other forms of sodium than they need. Often, when people with high blood pressure cut back on salt, their blood pressure falls. Cutting back on salt also prevents blood pressure from rising. People with high blood pressure, should eat less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium daily. That's about 1 teaspoon of salt. But remember to keep track of ALL salt eaten -- including that in processed foods and salt added during cooking or at the table.

Restrict processed food instead buy fresh whenever possible. Avoid foods that contain Monosodium Glutamate, baking powder, soya sauce, preserved foods such as pickles, canned foods, stock cubes, smoked meat, potato chips, papads, and ketchup.

Avoid adding salt while cooking rice, chapatti or pasta.

Use herbs and spices like lemon, garlic, mint leaves, coriander etc to add flavour while cooking this can help to reduce the use of salt.

You can prevent or delay its onset by following diet and lifestyle changes. These changes will not only lower the BP but can also improve your overall health and well being.

In many cases these approaches to treatment work so well that your doctor may wish to reduce the number or dose of medications.

So take charge and get started on controlling your high blood pressure.

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