Here are 12 proven ways to reduce your blood pressure (diastolic and systolic) without resorting to drugs; you can start today; over a third of adults in the Western world have high blood pressure and risk many illnesses, for example heart attack, kidney failure and stroke, as a result.
Let’s cover the obvious first!
- Do not smoke – there’s clear research showing smoking puts up your blood pressure.
- Don’t be overweight – research shows that a controlled weight-loss programme reduces blood pressure. Your waistline size is also linked directly to blood pressure!
Take aerobic exercise – run, walk, jog, swim. Regular exercise for 45-60 minutes 3-4 times per week, where you get out of breath for at least 20 is what’s required. According to the Mayo Clinic, exercise makes the heart stronger and it pumps more blood with less effort, lowering blood pressure.
- Avoid salt – higher sodium levels in the body are linked to higher blood pressure. You should cut foods such as Chinese meals, sausages, bacon, dried meats, salted nuts and crisps.
- Avoid Stress – Stress has a devastating effect on blood pressure. Stress causes the heart to beat faster and the blood vessels to narrow (1). Pinpoint your stress triggers, and try to cut those people and things out of your life. Make time to relax and calm down. Watch funny films, listen to calm music, pray, meditate, try yoga (there’s research) or a sauna, take Ashwagandha and Boswellia. Plan your weeks better, include times when you work, times when you relax, times when you are enjoying other interests.
- Cultivate a regular sleeping regime – do not focus on blue light in the hour before bed; change your phone and computer to warm red light. Do not go to bed late – this is linked to a greater risk of heart attack. Go to bed earlier!
Cut the carbs – A low carb diet reduces diastolic Blood Pressure by 4.5 mm Hg and systolic by 5.9 mm HG; whereas a low fat diet only reduces blood pressure by 0.4 and 1.5 respectively, even when taking medicines! The herb berberine cuts blood sugar and reduces blood pressure.
Eat a Rainbow Diet – In research, women who stuck most closely to the Rainbow Diet over a 15 year period, avoided 11 chronic illnesses that beset the Western World – one being high blood pressure.
Polyphenols are huge – there are over 500 in the colorful Mediterranean diet. They are in a wonderful array of foods from dark chocolate to ginger, herbs, green tea, celery juice, cooked tomatoes, sesame seeds and extra virgin olive oil.
Eat fresh – not processed, refined or packaged foods. Instead, you should focus on the potassium-rich foods such as fish, green leafy vegetables, avocado, banana, spinach, sweet potato, apricots, pomegranate, mushrooms. And magnesium-rich foods such as almonds, figs, spinach, dark chocolate and pumpkin seeds.
Moderate drinking – while a glass of red wine appears beneficial in lowering blood pressure, a bottle a day most definitely increases blood pressure levels.
Eat more green vegetables – Glutathione is the second largest antioxidant that you produce in your body. You should make it naturally from foods such as green vegetables, garlic, onions and flaxseed and it reduces blood pressure. According to WebMD, glutathione increases blood vessel diameter and blood flow reducing blood pressure. A garlic oil pill first thing and last thing has also been shown in a meta-analysis to reduce systolic and diastolic blood pressure by 6.7 and 4.8 mmHg, respectively (5).
Beetroot, in particular, has been shown to reduce blood pressure levels by 5 points, as it contains nitrate which converts to nitric oxide, which dilates arteries. Watermelon contains citrulline and does the same; arginine is found in pumpkin seeds, nuts and pulses and reduces blood pressure. Other nitrate containing foods include green leafy vegetables, celery, fennel and broccoli.
Eat more soluble fibre foods – especially oats, and barley, nuts, seeds and legumes (pulses) are the favourite foods of good gut bacteria and their consumption is linked to increased levels of anti-inflammatory compounds in the bloodstream, lowered blood sugar, lowered oestrogen levels and lowered blood pressure.
Spend time outdoors – We all know you increase blood levels of vitamin D if you lie in the sunshine. But did you know our levels of serotonin increase and these help our mood, generating happy hormones and cutting stress? Just going out in the sunlight, even on the cloudiest of days makes sleeping easier, because we produce our number 1 antioxidant, melatonin by the action of infraRed sunlight on our bodies. Also sunshine increase blood nitric oxide levels reducing blood pressure.
Cut calcium intake – several studies from BIOMED and the Karolinska have confirmed that there is a direct link between high calcium in the bloodstream and heart disease risk. Calcium builds up in the arteries and restricts blood flow. A coronary artery calcium scan is even used to accurately predict heart attack risk. Cut all dairy and calcium supplements (the latter have been linked to an increased risk of heart attacks). Several animal studies suggested that Vitamin K2 and Vitamin D could reduce calcium levels in the arteries, but a randomized study with humans (2) found they could not reverse previous damage.
- Time Restricted Fasting. This is where you stop eating at 6 pm, and start again at 10 am. People tend to eat approximately 65% of their previous calorie consumption. It reduces blood sugar and insulin levels. A 2022 meta-analysis showed that time restricted fasting also reduced blood pressure (3). Perhaps you should finish eating at 6 pm?
Of course, you could always supplement – Fish oils, Coenzyme Q10 and Magnesium seem to be three that can help, although Nattokinase (4) has its fans because it breaks down fibrin, reducing the risk of blood clots and is a natural way to reduce blood pressure.
Go to books: Rainbow Diet book; Heal your Gut Book
- The Mayo Clinic – https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/in-depth/stress-and-high-blood-pressure/art-20044190
- Despite hopes, vitamin K2 supplements fail to slow calcium buildup in heart valve – https://www.heart.org/en/news/2022/04/25/despite-hopes-vitamin-k2-supplements-fail-to-slow-calcium-buildup-in-heart-valve
- Beneficial effect of time-restricted eating on blood pressure: a systematic meta-analysis and meta-regression analysis; 8 November 2022 – https://nutritionandmetabolism.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12986-022-00711-2
- Garlic for hypertension: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials; Phytomedicine, 2015 March;15;22(3):352-61