High blood pressure, or hypertension, is one risk factor we don’t want to ignore.
It can be both an indicator that something isn’t right in our bodies, as well as actually causing health problems in itself.
One of the factors contributing to high blood pressure is a high salt (sodium) diet- for those of us who are “salt sensitive”.
When you consume a lot of salt, that means there’s more sodium in your bloodstream. Water follows sodium, so more salt means more water. More water means a higher blood volume, and therefore higher blood pressure. Think of a garden hose, the more you twist the tap- adding extra water- the higher the pressure inside the hose.
Whether salt affects your blood pressure depends on how “salt sensitive” you are, and this is largely determined by your genetics. Everyone will be different in how effectively their kidneys can clear away sodium from the blood, and the more salt sensitive you are the worse a job your kidneys do, and so therefore you have more sodium in your blood, and higher blood pressure.
Somewhere between 15-50% of the population (varying with ethnicity) are salt sensitive, and will notice large affects on blood pressure with high sodium diets. So does that mean the rest of us are free to use that salt shaker as we please? Not quite.
The issue is that it’s not just one thing that causes high blood pressure. The other culprits include being overweight or obese, stress, smoking, not exercising, more than 1-2 alcoholic drinks a day, and becoming older. So the best way to manage your blood pressure?
1: Take steps to reduce your weight.
Even a 5kg drop in weight is enough to create a substantial decrease in blood pressure.
2: Get moving
Start with as little as 15-20 minutes a day, walking is a great starting point. Add on a few minutes, and in no time you’ll be hitting the 30 minutes a day that should be your minimum goal for health.
Added bonus? Exercise is a fantastic stress reliever, so you can count this as a two for the price of one deal!
3: Ditch the smokes
Start with counting how many you have in a day, and then working to make small changes over time, gradually cutting down more and more. Even a small reduction will cause amazing health gains. If you’re struggling, speak to your doctor about other approaches to helping you quit.
4: Watch the alcohol
A wine or two now and then can creep up to three or more glasses every day very easily. Make sure you are measuring out standard drink portions, that wine glass filled to the brim is NOT one wine.
1 standard drink = 10g of alcohol.
375ml can full strength beer = 1.4 standard drinks
375ml mid strength beer = 1 standard drink
375ml light beer- 0.8 standard drinks
375ml can premix spirits 5% = 1.5 standard drinks
100ml white/red wine= 1 standard drink
150ml champagne = 1.4 standard drinks
30 ml (1 nip) spirits = 1 standard drinks
Plus don’t forget, guidelines are for at least 1 alcohol free day a week.
5: Get your diet right
For more information on a complete approach to controlling hypertension, look into the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet. Hint- low sodium, low processed or high sugar foods, high potassium, lots of fruit and vegetables, whole grains, and moderate meat and low fat dairy.
6: Be informed about medication
Sometimes medication is absolutely essential, and other times you can achieve the same results through lifestyle changes. Speak with your doctor about a timeline for trying to reduce blood pressure naturally that you are both comfortable with.
Still think medication is the best option? Guests at our weightloss retreat in Devon (OnTrack Retreats) have shown blood pressure drops of 5-10mmHg after just one week, returning to normal levels within just 6 weeks.
“I’d had high blood pressure for the last ten years, I was on several medications to try and control that. Since I came to Ontrack I’ve lost about 17kg over 10 weeks, my blood pressure is down, and my doctor is very happy.” Shane
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