Take a deep breath and chill! It’s ‘know your numbers’ week. "What’s that all about", I hear you ask? Your blood pressure!
If we are alive, then we have blood pressure. 21st Century life with the added strain of a worldwide crisis has increased millions of people’s blood pressue due to stress. Here are five things we can do to help keep our blood pressure stable:
Go for wholesome carbohydrates (low G.I.) – choose brown rice and pasta, whole fruit and vegetables (the less we process fruit and vegetables the better they are for us) and wholegrain bread. These excellent foods release energy slowly into the body. Research shows that by choosing low GI foods you are reducing the risk of hypertension, heart disease and type 2 diabetes! Bon appetite!
Cut down on the salty and sugary foods and those high in saturated fats - avoiding them can help you get and maintain a healthy blood pressure. The American Heart foundation recommend eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean protein and whole grains. In these times when it is extremely difficult to see your G.P. we definitely need to heed the advice that an apple a day, keeps the doctor away! Get munching!
Exercise more - What’s the connection? Regular physical activity makes your heart stronger. A stronger heart can pump more blood with less effort. If your heart can work less to pump, the force on your arteries decreases, lowering your blood pressure. Get the comfy shoes on and head out for a brisk half hour walk! What’s brisk? You should be slightly out of breath but still able to hold a conversation. If you are gasping, slow down! (If you have a medical condition, consult with your G.P. for advice before embarking on a new exercise regime).
Drink more water - Hypertension (high blood pressure) is common in people who are chronically dehydrated. When the body’s cells lack water, the brain sends a signal to the pituitary gland to release vasopressin, a chemical that causes constriction of the blood vessels. This causes blood pressure to increase which leads to hypertension. (note to self – don’t guzzle down a lot of water and head out for your half hour walk, sips along the way will go down nicely)!
Be like Peter Piper and pick a pepper - Bell peppers are an excellent source of vitamin C, with more of the potent antioxidant that even citrus fruits. Good news is, they have been shown to improve cardiac function and lower blood pressure. Top tip: choose a rainbow of colour in fruit and vegetables to also strengthen your immune system!
I don't know about you, but I intend to do everything possible to strengthen my physical and mental health in 2020 and beyond. Join me on my journey, I dare you.
You can find out more about the "Know Your Numbers" campaign, by clicking here.
© 2021 Nicola Penman. All rights reserved.