You've heard umpteen times that binge diets, erratic sleep patterns and lack of exercise do no good. But, if you've recently been diagnosed or know someone with an unstable blood pressure, you know it's better late than never to lead a healthy life. "Make small changes to your eating habits and daily activities that you can keep for life to stabilise your blood pressure," says Tripti Tandon, founder and chief nutritionist at Tripti's Wellness 1 and I Eat Right.
So, hop on the health bandwagon as we ask experts how to curb this condition.
Tackle low BP
Erratic meal times: Eating large meals at odd timings may lead to problems with low blood pressure and induce episodes of dizziness. Switch to smaller, more frequent meals.
Carbohydrates: To help prevent blood pressure from dropping sharply after meals, cut back on the carbs such as potatoes, rice, pasta and bread.
Stress: Meditate, indulge in a hobby and engage in other mood-boosting activities to keep anxiety and hypotension at bay.
Sudden body movements: Reduce the dizziness while standing up suddenly by taking it easy when you change positions.
Leafy greens: Increase your intake of vegetables such as beets, greens (like spinach, kale, cabbage and broccoli), celery, tomatoes, garlic and fruits such as bananas, watermelon, berries, pomegranate and grapes.
Water: Consume lots of water and fluids such as fresh fruit juices as it will help you stay hydrated. This will in turn help you combat the spells of dizziness and headache that people suffering from low BP are prone to.
Meditate: Practice breathing exercises that control the rate at which you breathe.
Salt: Increase your sodium intake to stabilise your BP.
Bring your BP down
Salt: "Sodium is the nutrient responsible for increasing BP in many individuals. The DASH diet is known to reduce BP effectively. In this sodium is reduced to 1500milligrams, which is 2/3 teaspoon salt per day," says Neelanjana Singh, senior consultant dietetics, PSRI Hospital. Steer clear of edibles such as breakfast cereals, bread, and soup etc that contain added salt.
Saturated fat: You must avoid butter, ghee, fatty meat, sausages, cakes, biscuits and other food that contain it.
Sweets and meat: Reduce your consumption of red meat and sweets. And when picking processed food, do check if it has more than 20% of the sodium requirement that make it unsuitable for hypertensive people.
Sedentary lifestyle: Include some physical activity in your day to control hypertension. Achieving a healthy weight will help lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of health problems.
Alcohol: Though alcohol is good for you in small amounts, it can potentially lower your blood pressure by 2 to 4 mm Hg. But, that effect is lost if you drink too much alcohol. Induge
Whole-grain foods: Opting for edibles such as breads, natural oat products and barley is a good switch.
Fruits and veggies: Eating five portions of fruit and vegetables a day is ideal to lower your BP. "The thumb rule is to eat at least three different colours of vegetables with each meal. So, a few pieces of carrot, two cherry tomatoes, and a serving of green, leafy vegetables would be just right," says nutrionist Tripti Tandon.
Dark chocolate: Multiple studies have proven that dark chocolate is good for the heart and helps in maintaining high BP. Also, increasing your intake of nuts, such as walnuts, is a good idea.
Sleep: Catch up on quality sleep regularly for your health and well-being, the lack of which can contribute to high blood pressure.
You have high blood pressure when:
The blood pressure reading >120/80mg/dl
Symptoms: Hypertension, usually has no signs or symptoms though rarely, headaches may occur. You may be more susceptible if you have eat out frequently and have a poor diet coupled with sedentary behaviour. Stress, and illnesses that affect internal organs (like the pancreas, kidneys, and liver) may also be the cause.
You have low blood pressure when:
The blood pressure reading is 90/60mg/dl
Symptoms: Dizziness, fainting, blurry vision, breathlessness, sweating, confusion, fatigue, cold hands and feet, sleepiness, weakness and in severe cases, shock.
(Inputs by Honey Tondon Khanna, executive dietician, Columbia Asia Hospital, Gurgaon)