Hypertension is a lifestyle disease that can easily and silently kill a person although it can be managed well through systematic diet and lifestyle. Vd. Lakshmi Anoop tells us how this disease can be managed without any medication.
Very common in the current era, hypertension has a multi-factorial origin. Its cause mainly depends on environmental factors but it is also known to respond to our everyday diet, sleep, exercise, work and stress. This is good news as this allows us to be aware of the necessary changes we need to make in our diet and lifestyle so as to keep our blood pressure under control.
Due to its asymptomatic nature, it is often known as a silent killer and it can go unnoticed for many years. It is dangerous as it can cause multiple complications that can affect/damage different organs if not diagnosed and treated on time.
Anti-hypertensive drugs are good as it not only lowers high blood pressure but also eradicates the risk of any secondary disease. However, Ayurveda, has a holistic approach to this disease, and this helps to minimize the risk factors effectively.
Modern life to blame
Modern life is fun, but we pay a heavy price for its goodies by getting afflicted by lifestyle diseases. Faulty lifestyle and stressful psychological conditions affect our mind and the haemostasis of our body. Hypertension, thus, is a psychosomatic disease, where mental factors play an important role in its pathogenesis, progression and prognosis.
Some of the factors that cause this disease are blood vessel elasticity, blood volume, cardiac output and peripheral resistance. This in turn depends on blood viscosity, vessel diameter and vessel length.
Exaggerated contractility of the heart increases the speed/force of the ejection of blood. This results in the forceful expulsion of blood through blood vessels, ultimately leading into increased resistance in vessels causing hypertension.
Diet, stress and exercise
- Increased consumption of salt and alcohol and smoking leads to a defective renal sodium hemostasis, thereby increasing cardiac output.
- Increased intake of caffeine and spicy food causes defect in the hormonal regulation of blood pressure (Renin– Angiotensin mechanism) leading to vasoconstriction which further increases peripheral resistance.
- Reduced calcium and potassium intake in diet and other hereditary factors cause defect in the autonomous nervous system thus increasing the heart rate and the vasoconstriction which further increases cardiac output and peripheral resistance.
- Increase in the intake of fatty food and lack of physical activity leads to hyperlipidemia causing atherosclerosis which further increases the peripheral resistance.
- Anger, stress, anxiety, excess fear, worry leads to disturbed physiological hemostasis and exaggerated cardiac responses. Also, it further causes negative emotions, eating disorders, physical inactivity, obesity, smoking, alcohol, etc.
Strategies to lower blood pressure
- Maintain healthy weight / BMI
- Limit alcohol consumption, smoking and tobacco
- Increase physical activity
- Follow dietary eating pattern –increased intake of fruits and vegetables, low fat dairy products, whole grains, poultry, fish and nuts.
- Reduce the intake of red meat, sweets, sodium and beverages containing sugar.
- Reduce stress.
What to do to prevent hypertension?
- Cut back on fat and eat more starches or complex carbohydrates like grains, beans, vegetables.
- Limit intake of milk, cheese, poultry, fish and meat.
- Eat low sodium diet to maintain normal blood pressure.
- Eat more fiber, fruits and vegetables as they help to lower cholesterol levels. So, include oat bran, rice, wheat bran, barley, beans, oranges, potatoes, tomatoes, okra, etc., in diet.
- Maintain body weight as increased body fat increases risk of heart diseases.Have an active lifestyle as it keeps cholesterol in normal range, reduces blood pressure, controls body weight and blood sugar levels and reduces stress. Exercise helps cardiovascular system work efficiently. Indulge in gardening, housekeeping, etc. If you do not have sufficient time for those, then use the stairs and avoid lift and walk/use cycle to go to work or buy groceries.
- Quit smoking as smoking can increase heart rate, blood pressure levels and lower the good cholesterol (HDL cholesterol). Smoking may also increase the tendency of the blood to clot, leading to heart attack.
- Reduction in stress can help to increase overall quality of life.
- Reduce alcohol consumption.
- Reduce the intake of food additives or preservatives such as MSG (Monosodium glutamate), hydrogenated oils and fats. Instead use vegetable oils.
- Get enough sleep – Disturbed sleep causes imbalance in stress hormones leading to increase in blood pressure.
Recipes for lowering blood pressure
Recipe 1 – Medicated Garlic milk preparation
Ingredients– 8 – 10 garlic cloves, 40 ml low fat cow’s milk or goat’s milk, 160 ml water.
Method of preparation – Peel garlic, cut it lengthwise and pound it to make a paste. Mix milk and water in a small vessel and bring it to boil. Add the garlic paste and mix well. Boil on mild heat without covering with a lid or stirring, until only 40 ml remains. Filter and serve hot.
Benefits – This helps reduce blood pressure, improves cholesterol levels. It is rich in anti-oxidants and regulates blood sugar levels as well.
Recipe 2 – Hot cumin drink
Ingredients – 2 cups water, 1 tsp fenugreek seeds, 1 tsp cumin seeds, 1 tbspjaggery.
Method of preparation – Roast the seeds, crush into coarse powder, cook in water. Add jaggery and mix well. Filter and consume.
Benefits – Good for cholesterol & hypertension, soothes muscle pain too.
As blood pressure exerts burden on the human quality of life, contributes to increased mortality and risk of cardiovascular diseases it is important to make the necessary diet & lifestyle changes to lower it and thus prevent the development of hypertension and reduce the risk of its related complications.
Chakrapani Ayurveda Clinic & Research Center
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