You may have read my blog post recently about the importance of your heart and how to consciously slow down your heart rate with simple breathing techniques courtesy of Heartmath

I thought I’d get some professional heart health advice too, so here’s some suggestions from guest writer Stuart Young 

Blood pressure measures the force which your blood exerts on your arteries’ walls while it runs through them. According to the American Heart Association, elevated blood pressure is a systolic reading of over 120 mm Hg and a diastolic reading of under 80 mm Hg. Stage 1 high blood pressure comprises a systolic reading of over 130-139 mm Hg and a diastolic reading of between 80- and 89-mm Hg. Increased blood pressure can cause damage to your arteries and blood vessels. This damage can cause complications such as vision loss, heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease. Worldwide, about  26% of the population suffers from hypertension, and the figure is expected to reach 29% by 2025, according to Medscape. Raised blood pressure rarely causes obvious symptoms until it has resulted in harm, so it’s important to treat the condition before it’s too late. Although there are  many medications available to combat high blood pressure, it is possible to prevent it by making a few natural lifestyle changes. Here are the top 7 natural ways to avoid hypertension.

Keep a Food Diary

A food journal will help you track your daily meals. Write down the foods you eat, how much, and when. Also, monitor what triggers your appetite. Check if you snack on sweets or high-fat highly processed dishes while you’re watching your favorite show. Determine if you skip breakfast or eat in a hurry. Before you can start making changes, you must determine your eating habits and patterns.

Avoid Salty Foods

Choose foods that are low in salt and other types of sodium. To maintain your blood pressure at a healthy level, you must reduce the amount of sodium you consume. Keep your sodium intake to 2.4 grams per day, at most. Before you try salt substitutes, check with your doctor.

Consume More Potassium

Potassium is a mineral that helps to regulate fluid balance and control the electrical activity of muscles. It lowers your blood pressure by reducing the adverse effects of sodium. Your kidneys rely on potassium to achieve the right balance of sodium in your bloodstream. Increase the level of potassium in your blood by eating more vegetables and fruits.

Increase Daily Activity

After an exercise session, it’s typical to experience spikes in your blood pressure. The level will shortly return to its normal rate. People with hypertension can safely exercise but should speak to a doctor about the difficulty of the activity. Your doctor may suggest moderate activities or working gradually towards daily exercise.

heart in striped head

Avoid Stress

When you confront a stressful situation, your body releases stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline into your bloodstream. The hormones make your heart beat faster and constrict your blood vessels. The constriction causes your heart rate to increase. And chronic stress can cause your body to suffer from hypertension for days or weeks.

Cut Sugar

Besides weight gain or obesity, excessive sugar consumption also causes high blood pressure. Hypertension is more common in overweight people. According to the American Heart Association, women should limit sugar intake to 24 grams per day, and men should only consume 36 grams per day.

Quit Smoking

Smoking is a common cause of heart disease and high blood pressure, as well as many other health problems, The nicotine found in cigarettes increases your heart rate, hardens and narrows your blood vessels, and causes blood clots, eventually leading to heart disease and stroke. To quit smoking, you need the support of your doctor and family. Set a date to stop smoking and inform your doctor about it. Determine why you’re quitting and remind yourself daily. Establish what triggers your smoking and list activities which you can do instead of smoking. Focus on the fact that you’re improving your health and that you’re giving up a dangerous habit.

Thanks to guest writer Stuart Young.