Prioritizing physical activity and your food intake will do wonders for your health

By Nicole Ganglani | Art by Saii Shah | Photos by Caroline Attwood, Dane Wetton and Emily Sea/Unsplash

One of the scariest things about hypertension or high blood pressure is that it has no symptoms. A major cause of heart disease, high blood pressure depends on how much blood your heart is pumping and how resistant your arteries are to blood flow. 

There isn’t a clear explanation on what really causes high blood pressure—what we do know is that your lifestyle is a crucial factor. But you can prevent high blood pressure by prioritizing your health and making certain changes to your lifestyle. Here are five  simple ways to do just that: 


Get moving 

Physical exercise strengthens your heart and helps it pump more blood with less effort, decreasing the pressure on your arteries and lowering your blood pressure. A simple 30-minute exercise like jogging on the treadmill or engaging in aerobic dance at least five times a week are some exercises you can do. You can also practice mindfulness and meditation to reduce stress. 


Limit sugar and refined carbohydrates

Several scientific studies have proven that excessive sugar and carbohydrates intake causes high blood pressure. Aside from following a low-carb and low-fat diet, you can focus on consuming more protein and healthy fat (avocados, eggs, dark chocolate) instead of sugar and processed carbohydrates. You can start by eating a well-balanced breakfast as well as more protein (56 grams for men and 46 grams per day for women) and vegetables throughout the day to avoid snacking on sweets and junk. 

Physical exercise strengthens your heart and helps it pump more blood with less effort, decreasing the pressure on your arteries and lowering your blood pressure

Stop smoking and drink less alcohol 

Smoking causes an immediate increase in blood pressure as the chemicals in tobacco damage the blood vessels. If you don’t smoke, be wary of secondhand smoke. Heavy drinking on the other hand is also linked to hypertension and serious long-term effects so it’s best to limit yourself to only one glass of any alcoholic beverage a day. 


Eat high-protein food

As mentioned above, protein is an essential nutrient found in meat, seafood, grains, beans and dairy products that can help decrease high blood pressure. A long-term study found that those who ate an average of 100 grams of protein per day experienced a 40 percent decrease of blood sugar levels while those who consumed regular fiber from high-protein foods experienced a 60 percent reduction of blood sugar. 

High-protein foods that you should eat often to reduce blood pressure are fish (salmon or canned tuna in water), eggs, beef, chicken breast, beans, nuts, chickpeas and cheese specifically parmesan (since it contains 35.1 grams of protein). If you’re vegetarian, you can opt for beans (containing seven to 10 grams of protein) and peanut butter. 


Don’t stress yourself out too much

When you’re stressed, hormones cause your heart to beat faster (and narrow your blood vessels) which affects your blood pressure. This is why you must find ways to reduce your stress especially if you feel this often. Listening to music, walking your dog and sitting in silence for two minutes have all proven to reduce systolic blood pressure and stress levels.

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