May is National Blood Pressure Awareness Month. This month is when programs and activities aimed at spreading awareness about high blood pressure and its prevention starts.
According to the CDC, about 1 in 3 American adults have blood pressures that are higher than normal. The same publication also states that in 2014 high blood pressure has been found to be the primary or a contributing factor to the death of 410,000 Americans.
The initiative to educate the public on hypertension prevention is too great to be dealt with by the US Department of Health alone. Which is why the National Lung, Heart and Blood Institute urges communities, including churches and workplaces to be keen at upholding activities that educate their members on how to prevent or keep high blood pressure under control.
As food-lovers, we thought it will be good to do our bit too. We have listed 3 things that you can do, as early as today, to achieve and maintain healthy blood pressure levels.
Practice the DASH Diet
Instead of picking food items and focusing on increasing your intake of certain nutrients, it will be more convenient to approach the control and prevention of hypertension by following a diet plan.
There are so many ways to be nicer to your heart especially while you cook for your loved ones. This class with @truenosh focuses on the DASH Diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) and how it helps to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol to help keep your heart healthy. You will get your hands dirty with mainly local ingredients and understand the concepts of good fats vs. bad, good cholesterol vs. bad. and many other things that can be added to make you a healthier chef in the kitchen while keeping everything tasting great! #dashdiet #healthycooking #cookingworkshops #vancouverworkshops
Enter the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) Diet. Following its guidelines, here is how your daily food intake looks like:
- Grains: 7-8 daily servings
- Vegetables: 4-5 daily servings
- Fruits: 4-5 daily servings
- Low-fat or fat-free dairy products: 2-3 daily servings
- Meat, poultry, and fish: 2 or less daily servings
- Nuts, seeds, and dry beans: 4-5 servings per week
- Fats and oils: 2-3 daily servings
- Sweets: try to limit to less than 5 servings per week
This looks a lot like the Mediterranean Diet especially that both guidelines help in the management of blood pressure and overall heart health. The difference is that the DASH diet is primarily designed to help an individual achieve and maintain healthy blood pressure levels by being high in magnesium, potassium, calcium and fiber while being low in sodium. The Mediterranean diet is patterned after what people in the Mediterranean basin eat.
Discover fun ways to keep yourself active
Fact: we can all spare 15 minutes each day (or at least every other day) to workout.
Anything that requires you to exert effort and makes you move counts as exercise. But the best ones for maintaining or achieving healthy blood pressure levels are moderate and progressive aerobic exercise or cardio. Swimming, hiking, and dancing are fun ways to ease your body into doing cardio. These days, even pilates counts as cardio.
Doing chores around the house are a special type of exercise as they get you off the couch and make you productive.
Of course, you can always go on walking around the neighborhood or maybe you can bike to work twice each week instead of driving. Take the stairs for 1 or 2 floors instead of taking the elevator to get to your workplace. The important thing is you sneak in activity throughout your day. The small things always add up to make you healthier.
Learn how to deal with stress
High blood pressure can be evident in times of stress. However, how you choose to deal with stress can cause long term blood pressure effect. Drinking alcohol, smoking, unhealthy food consumption (eating too much or too little, eating a lot of unhealthy food) are contributing factors in the development not only of hypertension but of other conditions as well.
Stress management then is an efficient way to keep your blood pressure in healthy levels. Here are a few ways you can effectively manage stress:
"Along with material possession comes emotional baggage," says author Deane Alban. Clutter gives you emotional discomfort such as overwhelm and anxiety. Make some room and simplify your space. You'll notice how this change will positively impact your emotional health.
Learn to say "no." Nice is not always better than good, especially when your commitments to other people will compromise self-care. If something causes you anxiety, if it makes you lose sleep or skip meals, then better reconsider before you commit. This way, your life will have much less tension, and you will go about your day with more ease and focus.
Take up a hobby, volunteer, or join a support group. Take 5 minutes to meditate. Be creative in finding ways to break the monotonous cycle of day to day life.
Taking the time to be kind to yourself is to your interest. Hopefully, this month will be when you start to ease into habits that will bring about a healthier you.