“Do you face trouble falling asleep?” I asked a group I met last week and more than 90% raised their hands. This is a group of young corporates, all under 35 years of age.
“Do you also feel restless and dizzy at times?”
“At times, yes,” one of them got up and said, “It’s like 2-3 times a week. It’s normal actually.”It’s not normal for healthy people to be troubled in this way. However, we went on.
“Has anyone ever felt tightness in chest? Or shortness of breath?” I scanned the room and three hesitantly raised their hands. I then asked them if they have ever got their blood pressure tested, and the answer was no.
Now, I’m no doctor. But being a nutritionist I know that a combination of a headache, dizziness, restlessness, insomnia, shortness of breath, and chest pain is a clear indication of high blood pressure. The sad part is that our unhealthy lifestyle has ‘normalised’ all these issues and we consider them a part of our work life.
Kudos to you for consciously seeking ways to normalise your blood pressure rather than the issues. You’re already two steps ahead than most. So, shall we begin?
Causes of hypertension
- High salt intake: We may be including less salts in our diet but processed food items like bread, 2-minutes noodles, microwave-and-serve snacks, and even cakes add an extra amount of salt that are often invisible. If you don’t want to get into hypertensive state, cut down on convenience food.
- Genetic predisposition because of family history: This is something you couldn’t have controlled. The upside, however, is that changing your lifestyle and dietary habits would be much easier.
- Obesity: Inactive lifestyle and obesity lead to hypertension as the age increases. So, the best way is to lose weight and maintain a healthy relationship with food where you enjoy everything without compromising on health or your taste.
If you google about diet for hypertension, you’ll be taken to the DASH diet, Dietary Approach To Stop Hypertension. But since every individual is different and unique, this diet must be personalised.
Nonetheless, I’m listing down some quick tips derived from it which anyone can use to turn the signboard for high blood pressure from open to prohibited.
Eat to prevent hypertension
No, eating is not counterintuitive. Include the following food items in your daily diet.
1) Leafy vegetables
Leafy green vegetables such as lettuce, kale, and spinach are rich in Potassium which lowers the level of Sodium from the blood. Thus, decreasing blood pressure.
Take: Frozen or fresh vegetables, unsalted soup, smoothies, salad Avoid: Canned vegetables
Berries, especially blueberries, are rich in flavonoids which keep blood pressure under control and also increase immunity.
Take: Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, in morning cereal, evening snack
Avoid: Juices, ready-to-drink smoothies
Beets are high in nitric oxide which dilates (opens up) the blood vessels and lowers blood pressure within a few hours. They are a good substitute to long term medicine.
Take: Juiced, salad, roasted (unsalted)
Avoid: Fried, boiled
Oatmeal is high in fibre and low in sodium. A daily cup of this is a great way to put a cap on your blood pressure. Eaten for breakfast, it supercharges the day – light and healthy.
Take: As breakfast, evening snack, banana pancakes
Avoid: Processed oats
Like I said, potassium is good for hypertension. And eating foods that are rich in it is better than taking medicines and supplements. So, go for banana and papaya.
Take: Raw, shake, frozen, yoghurt
Hypertension does not present any ‘alarming’ symptoms. Its silent nature is the primary reason why most of us never care to get it checked unless advised. So today, I urge you to get it checked even if you feel perfectly normal and healthy.
If the reading comes over 140/90, then you are at a risk of heart and kidney diseases along with damage to the eyes. But, don’t worry. Hypertension is no bogeyman if you go for regular checkups and a dietary modification. I understand that complete lifestyle overhauling is not something one could do in a day or even a week’s time. So, start small with diet and build on that.
Even if you’re not in the danger zone, don’t overlook what these five food items could do for your health. Reach out to me through comments and email in case of queries and suggestions, and share this piece with anyone who might benefit from it.
Until next time,