You are often told ‘it is normal,’ but what is your actual blood pressure and what is it saying about you? Normal blood pressure is 120/80 or lower. The first number is the ‘systolic’ number, representing the pressure in your arteries when your heart contracts and forces oxygenated blood to the rest of your body. The second number is the ‘diastolic’ blood pressure number, which reflects the baseline pressure while your heart is relaxed. When blood pressure approaches or goes above 140/90, then it is of more concern as it is high, which is a risk for cardiovascular diseases. It is important to know your blood pressure as it is a sign of how your overall health is. Below are some factors that affect your blood pressure and may highlight what you need to do for yourself to protect your health.
High or low, what does your blood pressure say about you?
Poor diet. Generally, those with higher blood pressure eat fewer fruits and vegetables. As demonstrated in the large DASH study (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), changing your diet can dramatically change your blood pressure. In the DASH diet, consistently reducing salt and including vegetables, fruit, whole grains, poultry, low fat dairy, fruits and nuts salt led to improved blood pressure; so much so that it is often touted as the healthiest diet. Drinking more than three alcoholic beverages daily is also a risk for high blood pressure. Sometimes low blood pressure can reflect nutritional issues such as low iron, low folic acid or vitamin B12.
Hormone status. Low blood pressure is associated with low hormonal output, particularly for the thyroid and adrenal gland. On the opposite side, when these glands are overproducing hormones, your blood pressure can get elevated.
Exercise/Overweight. Being overweight is a risk factor for elevated blood pressure. If your blood pressure is high, review your exercise duration and intensity and consider increasing it. If you are over 40 and you haven’t exercised much, get a check-up first.
Emotional state. Sometimes your blood pressure goes along with your mental-emotional state. For instance, men who are anxious or who have suppressed aggression have been found to be associated with elevated blood pressure. Take it as a sign to face your persistent thoughts and emotional state; perhaps counseling would be a good idea.
Stress. Overall, stress is a normal part of being human. It’s really a way to help you react to situations. Unfortunately, if you are either constantly under stress or you perceive yourself to be, then this can be associated with high BP. Try to create balance, balance relaxation activities into your lifestyle. Studies have shown that yoga, Tai Chi and other forms of deeper relaxation can improve your blood pressure, circulation and cardiovascular health.
Generally, increasing blood pressure with age means that your arteries are getting harder and stiffer, making your heart work harder to push the blood to get throughout your body. It would be ideal to incorporate a number of changes to bring more flexibility to your blood vessels. Important nutrients and herbs that can help include vitamin K2, hawthorn, grape seed extract, plant sterols and many others. Seek the help of a holistically trained health practitioner for more help.
(via Bell Wellness)