If you have high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, your blood vessels are narrowed and blood is pumped harder than normal.
This increases your risk for heart disease and stroke. The best ways to normalize blood pressure are to eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly and get enough sleep.
Eat a Healthy Diet
One of the best ways to normalize blood pressure is to eat a healthy diet. Focusing on nutrient-rich foods and reducing sodium and unhealthy fats can help you reach that goal.
A balanced diet can help prevent or reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure, according to the CDC. It also helps boost your energy levels and improve your mood.
Avoid foods with saturated and trans fats, which are linked to a higher risk of heart problems. They’re found in foods like red meat, fried food, and fatty dairy products.
Replace these with good fats, or monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These come from nuts, seeds, avocados, and olive oil.
Limit your intake of processed foods that are high in salt, such as cured meats and sauces. You should also eat less red meat and poultry.
Eating a well-balanced diet can also help you lose weight. Losing just 5% to 10% of your body weight can lower your blood pressure, according to the CDC.
Exercising regularly is one of the best ways to normalize blood pressure. It helps you lose weight, improve your mood and boost energy levels. It also promotes heart-healthy habits such as eating a balanced diet and reducing stress.
Exercise also makes your arteries elastic, which reduces stiffness and allows blood to flow freely. Doctors recommend a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity on most days of the week, such as walking or jogging.
But it’s important to listen to your body and take things slow. Strenuous exercise such as sprinting or lifting heavy weights can put too much strain on your heart and raise your blood pressure.
It’s also important to vary your exercises so you don’t get bored or become accustom to one style. It’s especially helpful to work different muscle groups in a variety of activities.
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is one of the most overlooked and under-appreciated health benefits. It’s the time your body is resting and repairing itself, replenishing its energy and vitality.
But if you’re not getting enough sleep, it’s a big problem. The CDC reports that more than 1 in 3 adults gets less than 7 hours of sleep on a regular basis.
When you don’t get enough sleep, your body sends out stress hormones to raise your blood pressure. These hormones can cause inflammation, which narrows the arteries, making your blood pressure even higher.
It also throws off your appetite-control hormones and can make you gain weight and increase your risk of heart disease. If you’re not getting enough sleep, consider making a few small changes to improve your sleep. You’ll be surprised how much of a difference it can make. Just like diet and exercise, getting enough sleep is a top priority for your overall health.
Manage Your Stress
Stress is a normal part of life, but it can become unhealthy when you don’t take steps to control it. Long-term stress can cause raised blood pressure, clogged arteries, heart disease and stroke.
When stress happens, your body sends out two hormones that increase blood pressure and heart rate. It also increases the amount of sugar in your blood.
But when it’s over, your blood pressure returns to its regular level. Short spikes in blood pressure, however, can lead to heart attacks and strokes.
A healthy diet and exercise are good ways to manage stress. But sometimes it’s helpful to get support from a trusted counselor or therapist who can help you identify and resolve the root causes of your stress.
Some stressors, such as the death of a loved one or a serious illness, are beyond your control. Accepting the situation and learning how to deal with it can help you stay calm and focused on your goals.