Lifestyle Modifications to Control Hypertension
by: Arlene Gentallan
What is Hypertension?Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is a potentially lethal health condition that can have devastating outcome.
In hypertension, the heart works harder than normal to pump blood throughout the body. The resulting high blood pressure it creates can damage the blood vessel wall and vital organs if left uncontrolled.
When it comes to controlling hypertension, lifestyle modification comes first. Here's a shot at some modifiable factors
MIND YOUR SALT INTAKE
Sodium chloride (table salt) supply us with two important electrolyte for the healthy functioning of our body. Too low sodium and chloride electrolyte can have serious effect on the body. But too much isn't good either.
Sodium attracts water. So if you loaded your bloodstream with lots of sodium, the tendency is for water to be drawn from your cell into your circulation. When this happens, your circulating blood volume increases, obligating the heart to pump harder than already is.
The recommended daily intake of sodium is about 1500mg. This is equivalent to 1 teaspoon salt per day.
What are the things you can do?
Limit salty foods
There are certain commercial foods loaded with salt that you should be warry of. Avoid indulging yourself with too much salt. Remember, the more salt you eat, the more you'll crave. So keep it within the limits. Make it a habit to always...
Read the label
Nutritional label of commercial foods will give you a good estimate of it's sodium content. This will prove valuable when it comes to your food selection.
Prepare your meal...make your own snack
Cooking your own food will give you better control when it comes to the salt you add to it.
Foods high in sodium includes:
• Canned foods
• Processed meat like bacon and ham
• Fast foods like french fries and hamburgers
• Instant noodle
• Salted pop corn and nuts
• Pickled veggies and salad dressing
Potassium counters sodium. That means the more potassium you consume, the more sodium and water you excrete.
The recommended daily intake of potassium is about 4700 milligrams.
Make it a habit to eat foods high in potassium like:
• Coconut water
• Plain yogurt
• Funegreek seed
• Dark leafy vegetable like Spinach
• Yellow fin tuna
Please note that excessive amount of potassium in the body can have serious effect so please consult your doctor first before trying a potassium supplement.
Omega-3 fatty acid lowers triglyceride (which is made up of glycerol and fatty acid) while increasing your "good cholesterol" HDLs (high density lypoprotein.) This lessens the buildup of cholesterol plaque within the blood vessel wall, thereby, preventing arterial narrowing and occlusion. This reduces the risk of hypertension, heart attack, and stroke. Omega-3 also improves memory and boost the immunity.
There are 3 types of omega-3, namely:
• ALA (aka. Alpha-linolenic acid)
• DHA (ka. Docosahexaenoic acid)
• EPA (aka. Eicosapentaenoic acid)
ALA comes from plant sources such as wallnuts and flaxseed. DHA and EPA comes from fishes and is superior than ALA.
Furthermore, our body can not make omega-3 so we have to depend on the food we eat. Here are foods high in omega-3:
• Fish oil
• Sardines and Achovies
The recommended intake of omega-3 is 250-500 mg DHA/EPA per day. According to AHA, two servings of fatty fish each week is recommended.
FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
Fruits and vegetables supplies us with fiber and nutrients. Eat plenty of serving each day.
The recommended daily intake of fruits and vegetables is about 4-5 serving.
1 serving is equal to:
• 1 cup raw vegetable
• 1/2 cup frozen/canned vegetable
• 1 medium sized fruit
• 1/2 frozen/canned fruit
• 1/4 dried fruit
Exercise improves the cardiovascular system, burns fat, and help you loose extra weight.
The AHA (aka. American Heart Association) recommends 40 minutes of aerobic exercise either of moderate or vigorous intensity 3-4 times a week to lower blood pressure and cholesterol level. This exercise recommendation will lower the risk of heart and brain attack.
Examples of moderate intensity exercises are:
• Brisk walk
• Bicycling with moderate effort
• Housework and gardening
Examples of vigorous intensity exercises are:
• Jumping rope
• Aerobic dance
• Mountain climbing
• Bicycling with vigorous effort
Smoking is dangerous to your health. It is one of the risk factor for many diseases like hypertension. Tobacco contains many carcinogen. It's nicotine content causes the blood vessels to constrict which increases blood pressure. While you can not quit smoking in a single day due to withdrawal syndrome, you can slowly taper it. You can do this by decreasing the amount of stick you smoke per day until you reach the point when you no longer smoke.
LOOSE EXTRA POUNDS
Obesity is one of the modifiable risk factors of many lifestyle related diseases like secondary hypertension. Start to eat right and combined this with proper exercise to stay fit and strong.
CHOLESTEROL AND FATS
Too much cholesterol can have serious results such as narrowing of blood vessel lumen due to fatty plaque deposition which can lead to an increase blood flow pressure and increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat is prefered over saturated fat and transfat.
AHA recommends to consume no more than 6 % total calorie from saturated fat, which is no more than 13 grams for those with 2000 calorie requirement. Transfat consumption should be less than 1% total calorie which is less than 2 grams for those with 2000 calorie requirement.
Drinking too much alcohol has several health implications like obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and cardiac problem. Drink alcohol in moderation.
The recommended daily intake alcohol is 1 drink per day for women and 1-2 drinks per day for men. 1 drink is equivalent to a 12 oz beer or 4 oz wine.