Hypertension (high blood pressure) can not be ignored, it’s here and it’s posing all the dangers to even more serious conditions like heart attacks and stroke.
When you start to feel;
- Chest pains,
- Frequent headaches,
- Shortness of breath,
- Fatigue, and
- Sometimes even nose bleeding,
It would be time to get your blood pressure checked.
High blood pressure is indeed a silent killer and majorly the causes seem to be too close to us:
When a high blood pressure diagnosis is made, your doctor will start you on medications to check your blood pressure.
Uncontrolled high blood pressure has extreme effects as it may cause heart attacks, kidney damage, and even stroke.
Nutrition management is also very crucial, besides the antihypertensive medications, you will also immediately be required to change your diet to accommodate foods that can help regulate your blood pressure.
Some of the causes of hypertension include;
- Stress, anxiety, depression.
- A diet that is full of salt, fat, and added sugars.
- Diseases like diabetes and kidney damage.
- Obesity/being overweight.
Blood goes through the blood vessels, so for example when your diet consists of lots of saturated fats, the fat(cholesterol) may stick around the blood vessels forming (plaques), making the blood vessels too thin (in very simple terms) it then feels like blood has to struggle to pass through the thin blood vessels, of course raising your blood Pressure.
In patients with uncontrolled blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia), the high sugars tend to damage the blood vessels, affecting blood flow also the blood becomes too sticky and struggles to move around the Blood vessels, the same way raising your blood pressure. However, the diagnosis of hypertension doesn’t happen on your first visit to the hospital, as it will have to be monitored at least 3 times at intervals of one week for a definite diagnosis to be made because even running can raise your blood pressure but does it mean you start to take anti-hypertensives? no, Sometimes all you need is to relax.
How is diet even going to help?
Now, when you are diagnosed with high blood pressure, your doctor would probably start you on meds to help control hypertension, but more often than not, diet is ignored when it could cover almost 60% of what you need to get your blood pressure moderated.
Diet is important for 3 reasons;
- To prevent the onset of high blood pressure.
- To help maintain blood pressure at a normal range.
- To prevent the occurrence of complications related to high blood pressure.
The DASH diet (Dietary Approaches To Stop Hypertension) came in as a rescue team.
You will realize that just adhering to the DASH diet can bring too good results, and that is why we call it our secret diet for high blood pressure.
What is the DASH diet?
This is a diet that simply aims to keep your blood pressure in check. Normal blood pressure is at 120/80 (systolic/diastolic); therefore, anything above that could indicate a problem. The DASH diet encourages 4 things:
- More fruits of a different variety.
- More vegetables (variety).
- Whole grains.
- Lean proteins ( skinless chicken, fish) and plant-source proteins.
Fruits and vegetables
Especially the ones rich in potassium like bananas and avocado are great because they’ll help reduce the effects sodium has on your blood pressure, you know the potassium/sodium balance in the body. A diet rich in Potassium is therefore highly recommended.
The dietary fibre
Fruits and vegetables are perfect for weight management, remember being obese or overweight could get you hypertension, and therefore maintaining your weight at a healthy weight range is crucial.
The fibre will give you satiety and so less and less snacking, you know most snacks contain lots of salts, fat, and sugar, so the lesser the snacks you take, the better off you are.
Almost for the same reasons, aside from giving you sufficient amounts of minerals and other nutrients your body needs, will also provide enough fibre, to help with weight management and also prevention of constipation.
Because you should fear saturated fat, we learn to enjoy chicken without the skin, fish, Omena, and mostly plant source proteins as opposed to red meats which contain lots of bad cholesterol.
The bad cholesterol loves to get stuck in our blood vessels, which in so many ways is not safe, let alone causing High blood pressure but also increases the risk of myocardial infarction (heart attacks) or even stroke when blood is unable to get to the brain.
What does a DASH diet limit?
Definitely, we need to have some restrictions for this diet to work like a miracle.
Always increases blood pressure, so many foods already contain enough sodium, and we also get more and more sodium from the table salt we use to cook.
Aside from eating foods rich in Potassium to negate the effects of sodium, we’ll also need to be wise and only use very little salt when cooking, and not add more salt at the table on already cooked foods, in addition to table salt has been linked to causing many other serious medical conditions, this is a takeaway message for even people who don’t have high blood pressure.
Red meats and most of the packaged over-processed foods (mostly snacks) are not good because you know still because of the bad cholesterol.
The build-up of this bad cholesterol in your blood vessels is going to raise your blood pressure.
Most snacks contain so many added fats, salts, and added sugars, again because we want to maintain a healthy weight, we want to reduce sodium and fat intake, and avoiding most snacks will be safer for an individual with high blood pressure.
What to do
The easy way out is to start embracing this DASH diet, the sooner the better. In addition to being loyal to this diet, we’ll need to ;
- Stop alcohol intake.
- Exercising more often 30 mins / 5 days a week is a way to start.
- Reduce intake of canned foods.
- Take enough water (at least 8 glasses a day).