So you have high blood pressure because you weren’t able to kick off stress in time. And you don’t know if it’s gone too high already, too low or just normal. Sometimes, even with maintenance meds, blood pressure can be tricky. Most people on maintenance meds brave eating anything, even fatty and spicy food, just because their maintenance protects them—or so they think. But don’t abusively count on it.
Your Basic Protection
Nothing protects you more than healthy eating, a healthy lifestyle, regular check up, non-abuse of your maintenance meds and prayer. Some Filipinos see their maintenance meds as some kind of amulet or anting-anting that makes them invulnerable or immune to fatty food. Then they find out too late that it doesn’t work that way. And once it hits them, they and their family may never enjoy being less busy in life.
So here are additional ways how to fight high blood pressure if you’re already hypertensive:
1. Check your blood pressure (BP) regularly. Check it in the morning and at night. And if you have to eat more than usual during a meal, take your BP first. If during a meal you suddenly feel funny, check your BP at once. It’s better to be rushed to the hospital at once if you really need to than just wait and see.
During a major attack, time is of the essence. However, don’t be panicky or paranoid, always imagining you are about to have an attack and send out false alarm that scares everyone like crazy. Thus, it is convenient to always have with you a portable BP monitor easy to use and which you can use easily by yourself. Being accurate with your BP levels is vital. This way, you don’t need to alarm anyone needlessly.
You can easily do this with electronic BP monitors or even with manual monitors. Just learn to operate them. It’s actually easy. (Find video below on how to use manual BP monitors). I’m not a medical person but I know how to take BP readings like an expert with a manual BP monitor. But electronic BP monitors are easier and they’re handy during emergencies. Just make sure the batteries are new.
2. Drink lots of water. Stay hydrated enough each day. It helps prevent high blood pressure. The minimum is 8 glasses (this is common knowledge) but I drink a little bit more though I don’t have high blood pressure. Water fixes a lot of wrongs in our body systems and sometimes it’s all we need to feel well and stay healthy. Stop taking sodas, softdrinks, powdered juices or beverages and anything with refined sugar in it. You know this already, of course.
3. Have your regular check up. Now, I know this is nothing new to you. But problem is, most people ignore it. I see it happen most times. They think that just because it’s “only” high blood pressure—and they have their maintenance—they can forget about regular check ups. And then they eat a lot. They’d even laugh off your advice on regular check ups. But remember, it’s still the number one killer in the country. And it sometimes kills without warning. So I advice you to get a BP monitor even if hypertension isn’t your problem, or you think it isn’t.
Wrong Common Sense
It’s not really eating restriction that fixes high blood pressure. You can eat anything as long as you consult it with your doctor. And doctors often say you can eat everything in moderation. But most patients just hear the “eat everything” part and use that as a license to indulge in food. When you ask them about their scary indulgence, they’d tell you, “Oh, my doctor said I can eat everything!”
Even more dangerous is when they say hypertension control is just a matter of “common sense.” Just stay away from fatty food and you’re okay, they insist. And by “fatty food” they simply mean literal pork. And then they eat lots of other food they don’t know were cooked in vegetable or soy bean oil. Or oil with transfat. Or vegetables and fish cooked in re-cycled cooking oil (oil used for the nth time). You may be eating “healthy” vegetables but are unaware they were heavily steeped in unhealthy cooking oil. And then you wonder why the doctor tells you your cholesterol and triglyceride levels are way too high when you’ve been eating nothing but “healthy” food. See?
Food is best fried with olive oil or coconut oil. Better yet, steam them. I love steamed fish, tofu (especially when it’s steamed to a soft texture that melts in your mouth) and vegetables.
Don’t belittle regular medical check up and regular BP monitoring.
By the way, can you eat pork even if you have hypertension? Well, if you really have to, ask your doctor first. Better if he is a nutritionist or dietitian. He’d tell you how much you can eat per meal. But to play it really safe, eliminate pork from your diet. Anyway, lean meat and fish are enjoyable, too. And for fat, you can get some from fish with Omega 3.
Everybody knows exercise is good, but I have to include it here, anyway. Check ups, monitoring and healthy food are nothing without exercise. Again, ask your doctor about it. But most docs approve regular walking. Brisk walking is the best exercise. Ask your doctor.
God designed our bodies not just to eat but also to move—and move a lot. Sadly, we hardly move around today anymore. Technology keeps us confined to little movements to get what we want. You don’t have to walk to the bus, jeepney or tricycle station anymore because Grab or Uber will pick you up right at your doorstep. See? And remote controls allow you to just sit all day in the sofa watching TV without having to get up to change channels or volume. All these push us closer to being hypertensive. And most of us are just willing victims. We don’t give a fight.
The best exercise for the heart is aerobics. If you want to avoid being hypertensive then aero workouts are best for you (with approval from your doctor, even if you think you’re healthy). If you’re the indoor type of person like I am now (I used to be an outdoor guy before I became a blogger), squats and jogging-in-place is apt for you. But to some folks simple workouts like this become boring eventually. So, you can try using simple equipment, like stationary bikes or pedaling devices. Some experts say use of equipment at home keeps boredom away.
But if you are already hypertensive, then start with leisurely walks, if your doctor allows it. With close consultation with your doctor, you can gradually progress to brisk walks that increase in pace. Sometimes, I go outdoors and run. Running or walking in a good environment with plenty of nature is therapeutic.