- Brian Bender, PhD
Lower Blood Pressure Naturally (without Drugs)
If you have high blood pressure (aka hypertension), you’re not alone. According to the American Heart Association, nearly half of US adults have high blood pressure. Though several medications exist to help those with hypertension, there are also ways in which you can lower blood pressure naturally.
Comparing Medications to Natural Solutions
“What we’re observing from the combined dietary intervention is a reduction in systolic blood pressure as high as, if not greater than, that achieved with prescription drugs. It’s an important message to patients that they can get a lot of mileage out of adhering to a healthy and low-sodium diet.”
These are the remarks from researchers at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine after finding that lowering your sodium intake and eating healthier can meet or exceed the results from drugs.
Whether it’s the American Heart Association, the World Health Organization, the National Kidney Foundation, the American Diabetes Association, Public Health England, or nearly every other major health organization, dietary sodium intake is a key factor towards lowering your blood pressure.
The reduction in systolic blood pressure from lowering sodium intake depends on your baseline blood pressure, but appears to reduce systolic blood pressure anywhere from 5 mmHg for those with a lower baseline blood pressure to 21 mmHg for those with a higher baseline blood pressure.
So what about medications? Common medications like thiazide diuretics, alpha and beta dual receptor blockers, ACE inhibitors, or ARBs tend to reduce blood pressure by between 4 and 15 mmHg.
Dietary changes are equal, and at times even more effective than medications for lowering blood pressure.
So a strong focus on eating healthy and lowering sodium intake can be just as good, if not better, than medications for many individuals!
But another important factor your healthcare provider will consider are side-effects and other drug-drug interactions.
For example, some medications like thiazide diuretics can increase cholesterol and triglycerides, while alpha and beta dual receptor blockers can lead to bradycardia. And ARBs should not be taken while pregnant or for those looking to become pregnant.
Indeed, the benefits will often outway the risks for many individuals with high blood pressure. But dietary and lifestyle changes like lowering your sodium intake and exercise can still typically be included as part of a treatment plan.
## Why Nearly Everyone Should Consider Ways to Lower Blood Pressure Naturally
One of the good things about lowering your blood pressure naturally is that these options can usually still be pursued whether you are on medications or not.
Dietary changes can typically be made alongside medications for extra benefit to blood pressure reduction.
If you are on blood pressure lowering medications, natural solutions can often amplify or accelerate your route to a normal blood pressure.
Lifestyle and behavioral modifications are great options for sustaining a lower blood pressure once you’ve reached your blood pressure goals. For example, you may take medications and change your diet to reach a healthy blood pressure, and gradually shift towards a drug-free, sustainable blood pressure.
In many cases, sodium intake reduction is a cheaper solution, too! Medications cost money. As does treatment of more serious complications that often arise from high blood pressure like diabetes, kidney disease, and cardiovascular disease.
And as they say, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Using natural solutions to lower your blood pressure may prevent the need for medications in the first place!
## Monitoring Sodium Intake to Lower Blood Pressure
It’s all well and good to know that lowering your sodium intake can help you lower your blood pressure naturally, but how do you know how much sodium you’re eating now?
Where is the sodium coming from?
Mostly, your dietary sodium intake comes from salt.
Fortunately, you generally don’t need to worry about the salt shaker on your dinner table. Generally, adding salt to your meals in this way is not the primary driver of overconsumption.
The problem areas? Processed foods and restaurants. In fact, according to the AHA, 70% of our sodium intake comes from restaurants and processed foods.
So focusing on these changes, first, is important. But as they say, “what gets measured, gets managed.”
Measuring and tracking sodium intake is a powerful exercise for lowering your sodium intake and lowering your blood pressure.
If you’re looking for accurate and easy ways to track your sodium intake, sign up for our mailing list to stay in touch!
This post is intended for informational purposes only. Please consult your doctor before making changes to your diet or treatment plans or making any medical decisions.