Laura Thompson is a local Nutritional Therapist, Acupuncturist and creator of the Healthy Gut Plan, offering advice on a range of health issues
High blood pressure or hypertension affects over half of all adults in Ireland over 45 years of age. Approximately four in every five men and two in every three women with high blood pressure are not being treated according to the Irish Heart Foundation.
That is quite a scary thought, particularly as high blood pressure increases your risk of heart attack, stroke or kidney failure.
Often the symptoms of high blood pressure are so mild - or even in some cases non-existant - that people simply don't realise that they have it.
The most important thing is to have it regularly checked. There are many factors that can contribute to high blood pressure but the main ones are as follows: smoking, weight (obesity), lack of physical activity, poor diet, too much salt in the diet, too much sugar, alcohol consumption, stress, family history, chronic kidney disease, thyroid disorders, sleep apnoea.
So how can you prevent high blood pressure?
Diet is crucial. A wide diversity of fresh vegetables and fruit will provide antioxidants and a good source of fibre.
Wholegrains are important, particularly brown rice, which is high in B vitamins and a wonderful source of prebiotics, which feed that all important good gut bacteria.
Oily fish such as mackerel, salmon, trout and fresh tuna are all high in Omega 3, protein and vitamin D.
Avoid processed foods which have hidden salts and preservatives such as sodium nitrate. Pork products such as bacon and ham are particularly bad for high blood pressure.
Avoid sugar and foods that contain sugar such as biscuits, jams, yoghurts and fizzy drinks. There really are no redeeming benefits to sugar. It contains no nutrients whatsoever and in fact is responsible for leeching other nutrients from the body.
Though diet is an important factor another major one is exercise. We all need to exercise for at least 30 minutes a day. We are designed for movement and sitting at a desk all day or behind the wheel of a car is a recipe for ill health.
Every one of us can manage to squeeze in a 30 minute brisk walk. Try to increase your distance within that 30 minutes as you get fitter.
Finally, the dreaded stress factor! Stress is a modern day killer. Learn to relax more try and manage your workload, making time to enjoy life. As the saying goes: don't spend all your life making a living that you forget to have a life.
Here are a few supplements that can help:
1. CO Enzyme Q10 – I would recommend taking a 100mg daily. CoQ10 is very important for all heart conditions and is vital for good energy, particularly important for people who are taking statins or cholesterol lowering drugs.
2. Magnesium – amazing stress reliever and has a major role in controlling blood pressure (always check with your doctor if you are taking other medication).
3. Garlic – I really like the kyolic odourless 1000mg. This is easy to take and doesn't leave your breath smelly.
4. Taking a small amount of apple cider vinegar in water daily is also beneficial for blood pressure and weight loss (avoid if you have any gastric inflammation).
5. Beetroot juice – great energy booster and liver cleanse as well as reducing high blood pressure.
6. Hawthorn or crataegus – a great herb which can be taken in the form of a tea, tablet or tincture (again, not to be taken without consulting your doctor).