Many different things contribute to high blood pressure including poor diet, lack of exercise, and poor stress management. The good news is that you can reduce your blood pressure naturally through lifestyle changes.
To understand some of the workings behind things that contribute to high blood pressure, I want to discuss two filtration systems in your body. First, the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is one of the waste disposal systems in your body and it also helps fight infection and carries dietary fats. Your lymph system cannot circulate on its own, but relies on your movement and muscle contractions. When your lymph system gets backed up from lack of movement, too much fat in the diet, or even regularly eating high fat meals before sleeping, the pressure in the lymph system increases. This stagnation can cause the blood pressure to increase. When this happens over a period of time, joints in the spine become fixated. You will notice that you will feel stiff and maybe a little achy. Chiropractic adjustments help to restore motion to fixated segments and help get stagnant lymph moving again.
The other filtration system in play here is in the kidneys. When blood flow to the kidneys is decreased for whatever reason (atherosclerosis or plaquing of the arteries for example), your kidneys assume that it is due to dehydration. They respond by producing hormones that cause the body to retain sodium and water, which ends up increasing blood volume and therefore blood pressure even more.
So to put it very simplistically, one of the things that contributes to high blood pressure is a back up of your body's cleaning and elimination systems. How do we fix this? Through movement!
Ideally it will be movement through exercise (both cardiovascular and strength and flexibility training). as well as movement through chiropractic adjustments. You will also need to get things moving on the inside so that your digestive, renal, and lymph systems start moving properly so your body can filter and heal. Another benefit of physical exercise besides strengthening your heart and moving lymph is stress relief.
Emotional and mental stress can also raise your blood pressure by elevating hormones that cause your blood vessels to constrict and your heart to beat faster unnecessarily. Exercise has been proven to reduce stress. Yoga is especially helpful because you practice mindfulness and breathing techniques while moving, so you get the best of both forms of pressure reduction. You can also practice mindful breathing techniques to lower stress throughout your day. Simply counting your inhales and exhales and keeping them the same length can bring you out of your head and into your body, reducing stress and balancing the nervous system.
And finally, nutrition. You will want to eliminate or at the very least reduce added sugars. Unnatural sugars like high fructose corn syrup and the sugars in processed foods have been shown to raise blood pressure even more than salt. Plus, these added sugars are inflammatory, and inflammation increases blood pressure systemically. You will also want to eliminate other inflammatory foods like hydrogenated oils and processed foods.
Instead, consume foods high in potassium, which balances the body's sodium levels, Omega-3 fatty acids, which are anti-inflammatory, and magnesium, which helps relax blood vessel walls. So the bottom line is, eat more fruits and vegetables. Some good suggestions that include these vitamins and minerals are avocados, chia seeds, figs, and berries.
Finally, let's talk about moderation. If your system is extremely toxic and congested, you can't start with moderation and expect to see a great deal of improvement. You have to go to the other end of the spectrum, almost like a detox, and get cleaned up first. Once you get to a healthy baseline, then you can enjoy moderation. At our office, we may help this process along by recommending supplements to help clean and detoxify your system in addition to specific dietary changes to get you feeling better and healthier.