Dr Chris Steele shares diet tips on reducing blood pressure
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There are a number of things known to reduce blood pressure – or hypertension. Most people are aware that eating too much salt and not enough fruit and vegetables can have an effect, for example. However, research shows there is one simple activity you can do at home to help.
An analysis of 107 existing studies, carried out by the University of Kentucky in 2007, showed that the benefits of taking part in transcendental meditation are “at least as great” as other means to reduce levels.
It even suggested some patients could ditch medication as a result.
Transcendental meditation, which is officially taught by the Transcendental Meditation programme, is a form of meditation from India made popular in western culture in the 1960s.
Participants sit for around 20 minutes repeating a mantra in their heads.
This is meant to place your body into a deep state of relaxation, while settling the mind.
Dr James Anderson, professor of medicine at the University of Kentucky and co-author of the study, explained: “The magnitude of the changes in blood pressure with the transcendental meditation technique are at least as great as the changes found with major changes in diet or exercise that doctors often recommend.
“Yet the transcendental meditation technique does not require changes in lifestyle.
“Thus many patients with mild hypertension or prehypertension may be able to avoid the need to take blood pressure medications – all of which have adverse side effects.
“Individuals with more severe forms of hypertension may be able to reduce the number or dosages of their blood pressure medications under the guidance of their doctor.”
He said long-term changes in blood pressure of this magnitude are associated with at least a 15 percent reduction in rates of heart attack and stroke.
“This is important to everyone because cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in the U.S. and worldwide,” he said.
Co-author Dr Robert Schneider added: “For those 100 million Americans with elevated blood pressure, here is a scientifically documented, yet simple and easy way to lower blood pressure without drugs and harmful side effects.
“In addition, related studies show an integrated set of positive ‘side benefits,’ such as reduced stress, reduced heart disease levels and longer lifespan with this technique to restore balance in the cardiovascular system, mind and body.”
Blood pressure is recorded with two numbers; the higher number – systolic pressure – refers to the force at which your heart pumps blood around your body.
And the lower number – diastolic pressure – is the resistance to the blood flow in the blood vessels.
The analysis found blood pressure changes for the transcendental meditation technique included average reductions of five points on systolic blood pressure and 2.8 on diastolic blood pressure.
As a general guide high blood pressure is considered to be 140/90 millimetres of mercury (mmHg) or higher (or 150/90mmHg or higher if you’re over the age of 80).
The NHS says: “Ideal blood pressure is usually considered to be between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg.
Rsk factors of developing high blood pressure include:
- Not eating enough fruit and vegetables
- Drinking too much alcohol or coffee (or other caffeine-based drinks)
- Being aged over 65
- Having a relative with high blood pressure
- Being of black African or black Caribbean descent
- Living in a deprived area.
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