★ 10 ways to control high blood pressure without medication. By making these 10 lifestyle changes

10 ways to control high blood pressure withoutmedication.

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By making these 10 lifestyle changes, youcan lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart disease.

If you've been diagnosed with high blood pressure,you might be worried about taking medication to bring your numbers down.

Lifestyle plays an important role in treating your high blood pressure.

If you successfullycontrol your blood pressure with a healthy lifestyle, you might avoid, delay or reducethe need for medication.

Here are 10 lifestyle changes you can maketo lower your blood pressure and keep it down.

1.

Lose extra pounds and watch your waistline.

Blood pressure often increases as weight increases.

Being overweight also can cause disrupted breathing while you sleep (sleep apnea), whichfurther raises your blood pressure.

Weight loss is one of the most effective lifestylechanges for controlling blood pressure.

Losing even a small amount of weight if you're overweightor obese can help reduce your blood pressure.

In general, you may reduce your blood pressureby about 1 millimeter of mercury (mm Hg) with each kilogram (about 2.

2 pounds) of weightyou lose.

Besides shedding pounds, you generally shouldalso keep an eye on your waistline.

Carrying too much weight around your waist can putyou at greater risk of high blood pressure.

In general:Men are at risk if their waist measurement is greater than 40 inches (102 centimeters).

Women are at risk if their waist measurement is greater than 35 inches (89 centimeters).

These numbers vary among ethnic groups.

Askyour doctor about a healthy waist measurement for you.

2.

Exercise regularly.

Regular physical activity — such as 150minutes a week, or about 30 minutes most days of the week — can lower your blood pressureby about 5 to 8 mm Hg if you have high blood pressure.

It's important to be consistentbecause if you stop exercising, your blood pressure can rise again.

If you have elevated blood pressure, exercisecan help you avoid developing hypertension.

If you already have hypertension, regularphysical activity can bring your blood pressure down to safer levels.

Some examples of aerobic exercise you maytry to lower blood pressure include walking, jogging, cycling, swimming or dancing.

Youcan also try high-intensity interval training, which involves alternating short bursts ofintense activity with subsequent recovery periods of lighter activity.

Strength trainingalso can help reduce blood pressure.

Aim to include strength training exercises at leasttwo days a week.

Talk to your doctor about developing an exercise program.

3.

Eat a healthy diet.

Eating a diet that is rich in whole grains,fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products and skimps on saturated fat and cholesterolcan lower your blood pressure by up to 11 mm Hg if you have high blood pressure.

Thiseating plan is known as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet.

It isn't easy to change your eating habits,but with these tips, you can adopt a healthy diet:Keep a food diary.

Writing down what you eat, even for just a week, can shed surprisinglight on your true eating habits.

Monitor what you eat, how much, when and why.

Consider boosting potassium.

Potassium can lessen the effects of sodium on blood pressure.

The best source of potassium is food, such as fruits and vegetables, rather than supplements.

Talk to your doctor about the potassium level that's best for you.

Be a smart shopper.

Read food labels when you shop and stick to your healthy-eatingplan when you're dining out, too.

4.

Reduce sodium in your diet.

Even a small reduction in the sodium in yourdiet can improve your heart health and reduce blood pressure by about 5 to 6 mm Hg if youhave high blood pressure.

The effect of sodium intake on blood pressurevaries among groups of people.

In general, limit sodium to 2,300 milligrams (mg) a dayor less.

However, a lower sodium intake — 1,500 mg a day or less — is ideal for most adults.

To decrease sodium in your diet, considerthese tips: Read food labels.

If possible, choose low-sodiumalternatives of the foods and beverages you normally buy.

Eat fewer processed foods.

Only a small amount of sodium occurs naturally in foods.

Mostsodium is added during processing.

Don't add salt.

Just 1 level teaspoon of salthas 2,300 mg of sodium.

Use herbs or spices to add flavor to your food.

Ease into it.

If you don't feel you can drastically reduce the sodium in your diet suddenly, cutback gradually.

Your palate will adjust over time.

5.

Limit the amount of alcohol you drink.

Alcohol can be both good and bad for yourhealth.

By drinking alcohol only in moderation — generally one drink a day for women, ortwo a day for men — you can potentially lower your blood pressure by about 4 mm Hg.

One drink equals 12 ounces of beer, five ounces of wine or 1.

5 ounces of 80-proof liquor.

But that protective effect is lost if youdrink too much alcohol.

Drinking more than moderate amounts of alcoholcan actually raise blood pressure by several points.

It can also reduce the effectivenessof blood pressure medications.

6.

Quit smoking.

Each cigarette you smoke increases your bloodpressure for many minutes after you finish.

Stopping smoking helps your blood pressurereturn to normal.

Quitting smoking can reduce your risk of heart disease and improve youroverall health.

People who quit smoking may live longer than people who never quit smoking.

7.

Cut back on caffeine.

The role caffeine plays in blood pressureis still debated.

Caffeine can raise blood pressure up to 10 mm Hg in people who rarelyconsume it.

But people who drink coffee regularly may experience little or no effect on theirblood pressure.

Although the long-term effects of caffeineon blood pressure aren't clear, it's possible blood pressure may slightly increase.

To see if caffeine raises your blood pressure,check your pressure within 30 minutes of drinking a caffeinated beverage.

If your blood pressureincreases by 5 to 10 mm Hg, you may be sensitive to the blood pressure raising effects of caffeine.

Talk to your doctor about the effects of caffeine on your blood pressure.

8.

Reduce your stress.

Chronic stress may contribute to high bloodpressure.

More research is needed to determine the effects of chronic stress on blood pressure.

Occasional stress also can contribute to high blood pressure if you react to stress by eatingunhealthy food, drinking alcohol or smoking.

Take some time to think about what causesyou to feel stressed, such as work, family, finances or illness.

Once you know what'scausing your stress, consider how you can eliminate or reduce stress.

If you can't eliminate all of your stressors,you can at least cope with them in a healthier way.

Try to:Change your expectations.

For example, plan your day and focus on your priorities.

Avoidtrying to do too much and learn to say no.

Understand there are some things you can'tchange or control, but you can focus on how you react to them.

Focus on issues you can control and make plans to solve them.

If you are having an issueat work, try talking to your manager.

If you are having a conflict with your kids or spouse,take steps to resolve it.

Avoid stress triggers.

Try to avoid triggerswhen you can.

For example, if rush-hour traffic on the way to work causes stress, try leavingearlier in the morning, or take public transportation.

Avoid people who cause you stress if possible.

Make time to relax and to do activities you enjoy.

Take time each day to sit quietly andbreathe deeply.

Make time for enjoyable activities or hobbies in your schedule, such as takinga walk, cooking or volunteering.

Practice gratitude.

Expressing gratitude toothers can help reduce your stress.

9.

Monitor your blood pressure at home andsee your doctor regularly.

Home monitoring can help you keep tabs onyour blood pressure, make certain your lifestyle changes are working, and alert you and yourdoctor to potential health complications.

Blood pressure monitors are available widelyand without a prescription.

Talk to your doctor about home monitoring before you get started.

Regular visits with your doctor are also keyto controlling your blood pressure.

If your blood pressure is well-controlled, check withyour doctor about how often you need to check it.

Your doctor may suggest checking it dailyor less often.

If you're making any changes in your medications or other treatments, yourdoctor may recommend you check your blood pressure starting two weeks after treatmentchanges and a week before your next appointment.

10.

Get support.

Supportive family and friends can help improveyour health.

They may encourage you to take care of yourself, drive you to the doctor'soffice or embark on an exercise program with you to keep your blood pressure low.

If you find you need support beyond your familyand friends, consider joining a support group.

This may put you in touch with people whocan give you an emotional or morale boost and who can offer practical tips to cope withyour condition.

Before applying these recommendations, consultyour doctor.

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