About 30% of Australia and New-Zealand population over 25 years of age has hypertension, or high blood pressure. It’s not very surprising as our diet contains too many processed foods which are high in salt, fat and sugar. The good news is that hypertension can often be treated without medication by making some simple diet and lifestyle changes.
My first experience with hypertension was a few years ago, when my mom was diagnosed with hypertension. Since then, hypertension has always been my area of interest. 🙂
Hypertension is often associated with bland and tasteless food. Well, I can’t argue with that. I’ve been there myself. As my mom was diagnosed with hypertension, she cut down the salt in her cooking. It was bland and tasteless, but after a while (maybe 6-7months), we all are used to it. This told me that everyone can teach their tastebud! I personally think that I can appreciate natural flavour in food now more than ever.
So, what is hypertension? Hypertension is high blood pressure, which is defined by systolic pressure (pressure when the heart contracts) and diastolic pressure (pressure when the heart relax). To be diagnosed as hypertension, one should have >140mmHg systolic blood pressure and >90mmHg diastolic blood pressure.
Is it dangerous? This is a bit tricky to answer, but yes, hypertension can be dangerous, it certainly is not a benign disease. Hypertension is a major contributing factor to atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease. In adults with high blood pressure, the risk of cardiovascular disease doubles!
Don’t panic!! By changing your lifestyle, you definitely can reduce your blood pressure, risk of complications and even better, prevent it! For example, for each kg that you lose, the blood pressure also drops by approximately 1mmHg. Imagine when you lose 10kg your blood pressure will automatically drop by 10mmHg (ie. From 140/100 to 130/90)! It is also beneficial for someone who takes medicine. Weight loss lowers the dose required to control blood pressure. And, it’s never too late to change your lifestyle. Here are some changes you can make:
|Weight reduction||Maintain normal body weight (BMI 18.5-24.9)|
|Adopt DASH eating plan||Consume a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products with a reduced content of saturated and total fat|
|Dietary sodium reduction||Reduce dietary sodium intake to no more than 100mmol per day (2.4g sodium or 6g of sodium chloride)|
|Physical activity||Engage in regular aerobical physical activity such as brisk walking (at least 30min/day most days of the week|
|Moderation of alcohol consumption||Limit consumption to no more than 2 drinks (24oz beer, 10oz wine or 3oz spirit) per day in most men and to no more than1 drink per day in women and lighter weight persons|
DASH or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension can be used to prevent and control hypertension. It includes several changes, which might be daunting and very difficult to follow. However, it was proven to be beneficial for you. So, it is important to make the changes gradually and slowly, allowing your body to adapt. If you do all at once, your body will be in shock and the changes tend to be not sustainable. Importantly, because DASH diet is really high in fibre, gradual increase in fruits, vegetables, and whole grain products should be made over time. Slow changes can reduce potential discomfort like bloating and diarrhoea.
Stay tuned for more info on DASH diet and feel free to drop a comment or any question 🙂
Are you ready to change?