Should we look to prescription medication or look at what we eat?
Blood pressure itself is a normal bodily-function and it’s vital to our cardiovascular and circulatory systems, it’s also normal for our blood pressure to fluctuate based on what our heart requires for whatever we’re doing at the time, whether it’s exercising or watching Netflix. High blood pressure or hypertension, however, is when our blood pressure is constantly higher than normal and, if left untreated, can lead to heart disease, strokes, and even death.
Of course, with life-threatening conditions comes prescription medication. So with a condition such as high blood pressure which is linked to diet, is prescription medication the best option?
The most commonly prescribed medications to treat high blood pressure are known as “Antihypertensive drugs” of which there are many forms such as: diuretics, beta blockers, inhibitors and receptor antagonists. These medications are designed to help prevent against the nastiest aspects of high blood pressure, such as strokes and heart attacks and while they can be effective, there is strong evidence to suggest that diet can be just as useful as a form of treatment.
Easy ways to combat high blood pressure with diet
While some factors that can contribute to high blood pressure such as genetics, gender, and age are out of our control, diet is something that we can absolutely control. For instance, obesity and a diet high in sodium have been linked to causing high blood pressure, therefore taking steps to lose weight and reduce sodium consumption are believed to effectively treat high blood pressure.
To treat high blood pressure through diet, your first target should be limiting sodium intake. In fact, more than 75 percent of sodium in the average diet comes from packaged and processed foods, not including what we add with the salt shaker. Some of the saltiest foods to avoid include: wraps, pre-packaged salads/dressings, crackers, wraps, Asian sauces, deli and crumbed meats.
What foods should I eat more of?
Include fruits and vegetables more often and emphasise high fibre foods such as whole grains, nuts, and seeds to keep blood pressure spikes under control.
Leafy greens are crucial when it comes to combating high blood pressure as they are high in potassium. Potassium is very important as it assists our digestive system to filter out sodium through our urine, which in turn lowers our blood pressure. Examples of leafy greens include lettuce, spinach, cabbage, broccoli, and kale.
While prescription medications for high blood pressure are available, with the right advice and support it is possible to treat the condition through diet, particularly if poor diet was a contributor in the first place. Yes, age, gender, and genetics do play a factor in vulnerability to high blood pressure but making small changes to diet can make a big difference.
For a consultation regarding high blood pressure and your diet, contact Fuel Your Life.
About Tyson Tripcony
Tyson currently owns and operates Fuel Your Life, Sunshine Coast Dietetics, Correct Nutrition and Dietitian Life.
He is an expert in manipulating the body composition of all clients (athletes/weight management) as well as optimising diets for athletes training and competing in short duration, high-intensity sports and team-based sports.