What Is High Blood Pressure?
High Blood Pressure (HBP) is also known as Hypertension (HTN). It is the pressure exerted by blood on the walls of arteries. It is termed as a silent killer and is very dangerous to your health. High blood pressure increases the work of heart, blood vessels and arteries supplying blood in the body by pushing them to supply blood evenly to each and every cell. Narrower our arteries are higher will be the blood pressure.
Normal Values of Pressure
Blood pressure readings are measure as systolic and diastolic (that is pressure during contraction and relaxation).
Causes and Impact of High Blood Pressure
Environment plays an important role in determining healthy pressure in a person. Our lifestyle if it is sedentary / active, habits such as smoking, drinking and diet choices such as healthy or processed food all contribute to our health. Being overweight/obese increases the risk of having high blood pressure. Some people genetically inherit abnormalities from their parents or forefathers and land up having hypertension. Aging or physical changes in the body also leads to increase in blood pressure.
High blood pressure adds extra pressure on our heart and blood vessels. If it remains unchecked, it can lead to a stroke or a heart attack. It also leads to damage to the kidney and other vital organs and is said to aid Kidney failure, Dementia, Coronary Artery disease, Mild Cognitive impairment, Nerve Damage and damage to the blood vessels in the eye, sexual dysfunction etc.
What is DASH Diet?
The DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) is promoted by the U.S. based National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) which helps in prevention and control of High Blood Pressure. It involves intake of diet constituting fruits, vegetables, low sodium, saturated fat and dairy fat.
Foods high in sodium that one needs to restrict include foods containing:
- Baking soda, baking powder (present in bakery products, outside fried items, etc)
- Monosodium glutamate (MSG/ Aginomoto) present in Chinese foods, maggi noodles, frozen dinner, chips, soups and majority of restaurant based foods.
- Sodium based preservatives added in foods in pickles
- High salt containing foods like Papads, sauces, chutneys, etc
- Unnecessary use of salt for kneeding dough, preparing rice, boiling pastas, noodles, etc.
Healthy Diet Tips to Maintain Blood Pressure
- Reduce intake of sodium rich foods as per in the above list.
- Incorporate a minimum 2 serves of fruits and 2 to 3 serves of vegetables daily. Keep variety. Choose seasonal fruits and vegetables.
- Lose weight to near your ideal body weight if obese and stay fit, healthy and active.
- Undertaking some kind of physical activity minimum 3-5 times a week.
- Consume healthy and fresh food and also eliminate or restrict junk and processed food items from your diet.
- Quit smoking, alcohol, caffeine and restrict salt intake.
- Monitor your blood pressure regularly and visiting a doctor every 6 months for a routine check.
- Staying stress free and happy is the easiest way to relieve all your problems.
- Consume adequate amount of water is also one of the essentials in maintaining blood pressure.
A healthy weight and lifestyle is the key to prevent as well as treat and maintain your blood pressure.