High blood pressure: Lifestyle changes to reduce reading
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High blood pressure increases your risk of heart disease by forcing your heart to work harder to pump blood around the body. To stave off the threat of serious health complications, it is therefore vital to reverse a high blood pressure reading. Certain dietary items have been promoted for their blood pressure-lowering process.
One that has attracted the interest of researchers in the field is ginger; a flowering plant that is mostly cultivated for its root.
There are some animal studies that hint at the blood-pressure lowering mechanism of ginger but human studies have been found wanting.
The aim of a systematic review in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) was to review the existing evidence on human applications.
Researchers sifted through a number of databases, including Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), MEDLINE and EMBASE to identify notable research in this area.
After analysing full-text papers, one study stood out.
The study examined the effects of 50 and 100mg/kg of ginger and placebo in healthy subjects.
During the study, 100 mg/kg dose significantly lowered systolic and diastolic blood pressure diastolic within two hours.
What these numbers mean
Blood pressure is recorded with two numbers. The systolic pressure (higher number) is the force at which your heart pumps blood around your body.
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The diastolic pressure (lower number) is the resistance to the blood flow in the blood vessels.
They’re both measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg).
Despite the encouraging finding, “more human trials studying the effect of ginger on hypertensive patients using different dosages of a standardised extract are needed”, the researchers concluded.
General tips to lower high blood pressure
One of the most important countermeasures against high blood pressure is to cut back on salt.
Why? “A high salt diet disrupts the natural sodium balance in the body,” explains Action on Salt, a group of specialists concerned with salt and its effects on health.
The health body continued: “This causes the body to retain water, which increases the pressure of the pushing of blood against the vessel walls.”
“As a nation, if we can cut one gram of salt from our average daily salt intake, there would be approximately 6,000 fewer deaths from strokes and heart attacks each year in the UK.”
According to UK health guidelines, you should aim to eat less than 6g (0.2oz) of salt a day, which is about a teaspoonful.
“Eating a low-fat diet that includes lots of fibre, such as wholegrain rice, bread and pasta, and plenty of fruit and vegetables also helps lower blood pressure,” says the NHS.
You should aim to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables every day, notes the health body.
“Regularly drinking too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure over time.”
Staying within the recommended levels is the best way to reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure:
- Men and women are advised not to regularly drink more than 14 units a week
- Spread your drinking over three days or more if you drink as much as 14 units a week.
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