High blood pressure affects nearly half of all adults in the United States, and only 25% of those people have their blood pressure under control. Also known as hypertension, high blood pressure is a chronic health problem that generally occurs without causing symptoms.
Though, you may not have any physical symptoms related to the excess force of blood against your blood vessel walls, over time, high blood pressure can damage your body and cause health complications, such as heart disease or kidney disease.
At MS Family Medicine Health Care PC, with New York City offices in Rosedale and Garden City, we take hypertension very seriously. Before prescribing medications, our team of health experts, led by medical director Michele Reed, DO, FAAFP, treats high blood pressure by helping our patients make lifestyle changes, including changes to their diet.
Though diet changes alone may not completely reverse your high blood pressure, it can lower your numbers and reduce your risk of developing related health complications.
Diet and high blood pressure
High blood pressure is common and, in most cases, develops from unknown causes. However, there are factors that can increase your risk of developing high blood pressure, such as eating certain foods.
Eating too many foods high in sodium — such as fast food, deli meats, frozen dinners, or snack foods — can increase your blood pressure. Sodium is a mineral that regulates fluid balance. When you consume more sodium than your body needs, it tries to flush it out, drawing more water into your blood.
The additional water increases blood volume, putting extra pressure on your blood vessel walls. Consistently eating more sodium than your body needs means your blood pressure is persistently too high.
Many of the foods that are high in sodium are also high in calories. Eating more calories than your body needs can lead to weight gain and, eventually, obesity. These two health conditions are also risk factors for developing hypertension.
Eating to lower your numbers
Because what you eat directly affects your blood pressure, diet is one of the primary treatments for hypertension.
As it turns out, eating certain types of foods and limiting others can lower your blood pressure. One diet that health professionals recommend is called the DASH diet, or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The DASH diet generally consists of eating the following:
- Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
- Low-fat dairy products, such as yogurt and milk
- Healthy sources of protein, such as fish, seafood, poultry, and beans
- Plant-based fats, such as nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils
Fruits, vegetables, and beans are rich sources of potassium. Potassium is a mineral that also regulates fluid balance. It works by pushing out the excess sodium and fluid in your blood, lowering your blood pressure.
The DASH diet also emphasizes eating foods rich in calcium, magnesium, fiber, and protein, which are nutrients that play a role in regulating your blood pressure.
Because we consider nutrition so important to wellness and preventative care, we offer nutrition counseling to help you make the diet changes necessary to reverse your high blood pressure.
Other habits to reverse high blood pressure
Eating a nutrient-rich, balanced diet can certainly go a long way when it comes to reversing high blood pressure numbers, but there are other habits that can help, too, such as regular exercise, smoking cessation, and stress management.
Weight loss can also help lower your blood pressure numbers. You can reduce your blood pressure by one point with every 2 pounds you lose. Though designed specifically to help lower blood pressure, the DASH diet can also help you lose weight.
You can reverse your high blood pressure by making changes to your diet. Let us help you get control over your hypertension. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with MS Family Medicine Health Care PC today.