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Updated: Jul 10

Nearly half of the U.S. population has high blood pressure. Often referrred to as "the silent killer" it can have devastating effects on your health and you may not even be aware that you have it. Aside from trying to reduce your daily sodium intake and htting the gym, this article will be highlighting 4 additional lifestyle changes you can make today to help better regulate your blood pressure.

Increase your daily consumption of potassium. Our heart is a sodium and potassium pump. Potassium works in conjunction with sodium for the heart to function optimally. Sodium is readily avalable in the western diet and is very easy to come by. However, 98% of Americans are deficient in potassium because we don't eat enough potassium rich foods. The more potassium you eat, the more sodium you lose through urine. Another benefit of potassium is that it helps to ease tension in your blood vessel walls which also helps to lower blood pressure. Recommended daily potassium dosage for adults : Men - 4700mg, Women - 3200mg (women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should consult their doctor).

Foods high in potassium:

  • 200g of potatoes (white, gold, russet, sweet, it doesn't matter) - 634mg

  • 1 cup of cow's milk - 407mg

  • 3oz salmon - 393mg

  • 1/2 cup(4oz) orange juice - 220mg

  • 1 cup (104g) any kind of white beans - 319mg

Consume more magnesium rich foods. Magnesium is a mineral that is responsible for many functions of the body. It eases tension in the mind and body by allowing the muscles to relax, is responsible for proper nerve function, and helps regulate our heartbeat. According to a 2018 report, 75% of adults in America don't get their recommended daily intake of magnesium (per the FDA). This one is a little more difficult to come by in our diets. Generally speaking, foods containing fiber contain magnesium. Leafy green veggies, legumes, nuts, and seeds are some good options. For most of us, our best shot at ensuring we get the amount we need will be to supplement. The good news is magnesium is available at all your local vitamin stores or supplement shops. Recommended daily magnesium intake for adults : Men - 420mg, Women - 320mg.

Aim for high quality sleep. According to people who get less than 7 hours of sleep are 20 -30% more likely to have high blood pressure. Also, a study published by Harvard health shows various sleep problems (falling asleep, staying asleep, and not getting enough sleep) are associated with high blood pressure. But how exactly does sleep affect it? Sleep helps regulate many of our hormones. Cortisol in one them. Cortisol is a stress hormone which contributes to our body' fight or flight system. When you're not getting quality, restful, restorative sleep our body releases more cotisol. Which then leads to higher levels of cotrisol in our bloodstream, which raises our blood pressure.

. For tips on how to get a better night's sleep make sure to checkout The Dark Horse Podcast Episode Number 2: The 5 Big Rocks of Nutrition and Recovery and begin listening at the 12:11 mark.

Decrease or eliminate your alcohol and caffeine consumption. According to the FDA and the Mayo Clinic 200 - 400mg of caffeine per day is ususally safe for most of us. That's about 2 - 4 cups of 8oz coffee. Just as a frame of reference a medium Dunkin' coffee contains about 302mg of caffeine and a grande Starbucks Pike Place has about 310mg. Blood pressure is affected by excess caffeine because it plays a role in the narrowing of the blood vessels. This provides resistance to the normal flow of blood and requires our blood pressure to elevate to help overome the resistance.

Alcohol works on the same premis as it too can constrict the blood vessels and make our hearts work harder to pump our blood. Even as liitle as 1 or 2 drinks per day can cause blood pressure levels to rise. Excess alcohol can also lead to weight gain and elevated blood sugar levels which is directly correlated to high blood pressure.

A few closing points. Most any calorie tracking apps can help you track your potassium intake. Don't shy away from supplementing with magnesium tablets. A good night's sleep can do wonders. And lastly, be aware of your alcohol and caffeine consumption. You can even pick up a good blood pressure monitor here. If you implement lifestyle changes and you still can't get your blood pressure to a sage range (around 120/80) consider talking to your doctor about medication. It's too important of a factor in your overall health and well being to ignore the complications which can arise from high blood pressure.

Note: I am not a doctor and this is not mecial advice. Consult your physician before beginning any diet or exercise regimen which may be hazardous to your health.

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