High blood pressure is a dangerous condition that can damage your heart. It affects one in three people in the US and 1 billion people worldwide.
If left uncontrolled, high blood pressure raises your risk of heart disease and stroke.
But there’s good news. There are a number of things you can do to lower your blood pressure naturally, even without medication.
Here Are 15 Natural Ways To Combat High Blood Pressure.
1. Walk and exercise regularly
Exercise is one of the best things you can do to lower high blood pressure.
Regular exercise helps make your heart stronger and more efficient at pumping blood, which lowers the pressure in your arteries.
In fact, 150 minutes of moderate exercise, such as walking, or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise, such as running, per week, can help lower blood pressure and improve your heart health .
What’s more, doing even more exercise than this reduces your blood pressure even further, according to the National Walkers’ Health Study (5).
Bottom line: Walking just 30 minutes a day can help lower your blood pressure. More exercise helps reduce it even further.
2. Reduce your sodium intake
Salt intake is high around the world. In large part, this is due to processed and prepared foods.
For this reason, many public health efforts are aimed at lowering salt in the food industry (6).
Many studies have linked high salt intake with high blood pressure and heart events, including stroke .
However, more recent research indicates that the relationship between sodium and high blood pressure is less clear.
One reason for this may be genetic differences in how people process sodium. About half of people with high blood pressure and a quarter of people with normal levels seem to have a sensitivity to salt (11).
If you already have high blood pressure, it’s worth cutting back your sodium intake to see if it makes a difference. Swap out processed foods with fresh ones and try seasoning with herbs and spices rather than salt.
Bottom line: Most guidelines for lowering blood pressure recommend reducing sodium intake. However, that recommendation might make the most sense for people who are salt-sensitive.
3. Drink less alcohol
Drinking alcohol can raise blood pressure. In fact, alcohol is linked to 16% of high blood pressure cases around the world (12).
While some research has suggested that low-to-moderate amounts of alcohol may protect the heart, those benefits may be offset by adverse effects (12).
In the U.S., moderate alcohol consumption is defined as no more than one drink a day for women and two for men. If you drink more than that, cut back.
Bottom line: Drinking alcohol in any quantity may raise your blood pressure. Limit your drinking in line with the recommendations.
4. Eat more potassium-rich foods
Potassium is an important mineral.
It helps your body get rid of sodium and eases pressure on your blood vessels.
Modern diets have increased most people’s sodium intake while decreasing potassium intake (13).
To get a better balance of potassium to sodium in your diet, focus on eating fewer processed foods and more fresh, whole foods.
Foods that are particularly high in potassium include:
- vegetables, especially leafy greens, tomatoes, potatoes, and sweet potatoes
- fruit, including melons, bananas, avocados, oranges, and apricots
- dairy, such as milk and yogurt
- tuna and salmon
- nuts and seeds
Bottom line: Eating fresh fruits and vegetables, which are rich in potassium, can help lower blood pressure.
h3>5. Cut back on caffeine
If you’ve ever downed a cup of coffee before you’ve had your blood pressure taken, you’ll know that caffeine causes an instant boost.
However, there’s not a lot of evidence to suggest that drinking caffeine regularly can cause a lasting increase (14).
In fact, people who drink caffeinated coffee and tea tend to have a lower risk of heart disease, including high blood pressure, than those who don’t drink it.
Caffeine may have a stronger effect on people who don’t consume it regularly .
If you suspect you’re caffeine-sensitive, cut back to see if it lowers your blood pressure.
Bottom line: Caffeine can cause a short-term spike in blood pressure, although for many people, it does not cause a lasting increase.
6. Learn to manage stress
Stress is a key driver of high blood pressure.
When you’re chronically stressed, your body is in a constant fight-or-flight mode. On a physical level, that means a faster heart rate and constricted blood vessels.
When you experience stress, you might also be more likely to engage in other behaviors, such as drinking alcohol or eating unhealthful food that can adversely affect blood pressure.
Several studies have explored how reducing stress can help lower blood pressure. Here are two evidence-based tips to try:
- Listen to soothing music: Calming music can help relax your nervous system. Research has shown it’s an effective complement to other blood pressure therapies
- Work less: Working a lot, and stressful work situations, in general, are linked to high blood pressure
Bottom line: Chronic stress can contribute to high blood pressure. Finding ways to manage stress can help.
7. Eat dark chocolate or cocoa
Here’s a piece of advice you can really get behind.
While eating massive amounts of dark chocolate probably won’t help your heart, small amounts may.
That’s because dark chocolate and cocoa powder are rich in flavonoids, which are plant compounds that cause blood vessels to dilate (25).
A review of studies found that flavonoid-rich cocoa improved several markers of heart health over the short term, including lowering blood pressure (25).
For the strongest effects, use non-alkalized cocoa powder, which is especially high in flavonoids and has no added sugars.
Bottom line: Dark chocolate and cocoa powder contain plant compounds that help relax blood vessels, lowering blood pressure.
8. Lose weight
In people with overweight, losing weight can make a big difference to heart health.
According to a 2016 study, losing 5% of your body mass could significantly lower high blood pressure (26).
In previous studies, losing 17.64 pounds (8 kilograms) was linked to lowering systolic blood pressure by 8.5 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure by 6.5 mm Hg (27).
To put that in perspective, a healthy reading should be less than 120/80 mm Hg (4).
The effect is even greater when weight loss is paired with exercise (27).
Losing weight can help your blood vessels do a better job of expanding and contracting, making it easier for the left ventricle of the heart to pump blood.
Bottom line: Losing weight can significantly lower high blood pressure. This effect is even more significant when you exercise.
9. Quit smoking
Among the many reasons to quit smoking is that the habit is a strong risk factor for heart disease.
Every puff of cigarette smoke causes a slight, temporary increase in blood pressure. The chemicals in tobacco are also known to damage blood vessels.
Surprisingly, studies haven’t found a conclusive link between smoking and high blood pressure. Perhaps this is because smokers develop a tolerance over time (28).
Still, since both smoking and high blood pressure raise the risk of heart disease, quitting smoking can help lessen that risk.
Bottom line: There’s conflicting research about smoking and high blood pressure, but what is clear is that both increase the risk of heart disease.
10. Cut added sugar and refined carbs
There’s a growing body of research showing a link between added sugar and high blood pressure.
In the Framingham Women’s Health Study, women who drank even one soda per day had higher levels than those who drank less than one soda per day (32).
Another study found that having one less sugar-sweetened beverage per day was linked to lower blood pressure (33).
And it’s not just sugar — all refined carbs, such as the kind found in white flour — convert rapidly to sugar in your bloodstream and may cause problems.
Some studies have shown that low carb diets may also help reduce blood pressure.
One study on people undergoing statin therapy found that those who went on a 6-week, carb-restricted diet saw a greater improvement in blood pressure and other heart disease markers than people who did not restrict carbs (34).
Bottom line: Refined carbs, especially sugar, may raise blood pressure. Some studies have shown that low carb diets may help reduce your levels.
11. Eat berries
Berries are full of more than just juicy flavor.
They’re also packed with polyphenols, natural plant compounds that are good for your heart.
Polyphenols can reduce the risk of stroke, heart conditions, and diabetes, as well as improving blood pressure, insulin resistance, and systemic inflammation (34).
One study assigned people with high blood pressure to a low-polyphenol diet or a high-polyphenol diet containing berries, chocolate, fruits, and vegetables (35).
Those consuming berries and polyphenol-rich foods experienced improved markers of heart disease risk.
Bottom line: Berries are rich in polyphenols, which can help lower blood pressure and the overall risk of heart disease.
12. Try meditation or deep breathing
While these two behaviors could also fall under “stress reduction techniques,” meditation and deep breathing deserve specific mention.
Both meditation and deep breathing may activate the parasympathetic nervous system. This system is engaged when the body relaxes, slowing the heart rate, and lowering blood pressure.
There’s quite a bit of research in this area, with studies showing that different styles of meditation appear to have benefits for lowering blood pressure.
Deep breathing techniques can also be quite effective.
In one study, participants were asked to either take six deep breaths over the course of 30 seconds or simply sit still for 30 seconds. Those who took breaths lowered their blood pressure more than those who just sat.
Try guided meditation or deep breathing. Here’s a video to get you started.
Bottom line: Both meditation and deep breathing can activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps slow your heart rate and lower blood pressure.
13. Eat calcium-rich foods
People with low calcium intake often have high blood pressure.
While calcium supplements haven’t been conclusively shown to lower blood pressure, calcium-rich diets do seem linked to healthful levels .
For most adults, the calcium recommendation is 1,000 milligrams (mg) per day. For women over 50 and men over 70, it’s 1,200 mg per day (41).
In addition to dairy, you can get calcium from collard greens and other leafy greens, beans, sardines, and tofu. Here is a list of calcium-rich plant-based foods.
Bottom line: Calcium-rich diets are linked to healthy blood pressure levels. You can get calcium through eating dark leafy greens and tofu, as well as dairy.
14. Take natural supplements
Some natural supplements may also help lower blood pressure. Here are some of the main supplements that have evidence behind them:
- Aged garlic extract: Researchers have used aged garlic extract successfully as a stand-alone treatment and along with conventional therapies for lowering blood pressure .
- Berberine: Traditionally used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine, berberine may increase nitric oxide production, which helps decrease blood pressure.
- Whey protein: A 2016 study found that whey protein improved blood pressure and blood vessel function in 38 participants.
- Fish oil: Long credited with improving heart health, fish oil may benefit people with high blood pressure the most.
- Hibiscus: Hibiscus flowers make a tasty tea. They’re rich in anthocyanins and polyphenols that are good for your heart and may lower blood pressure.
Bottom line: Researchers have investigated several natural supplements for their ability to lower blood pressure.
15. Eat foods rich in magnesium
Magnesium is an important mineral that helps blood vessels relax.
While magnesium deficiency is pretty rare, many people don’t get enough.
Some studies have suggested that getting too little magnesium is linked with high blood pressure, but evidence from clinical studies has been less clear .
Still, eating a magnesium-rich diet is a recommended way to ward off high blood pressure .
You can incorporate magnesium into your diet by consuming vegetables, dairy products, legumes, chicken, meat, and whole grains.
Bottom line: Magnesium is an essential mineral that helps regulate blood pressure. Find it in whole foods, such as legumes and whole grains.
Take home message
High blood pressure affects a large proportion of the world’s population.
While drugs are one way to treat the condition, there are many other natural techniques, including eating certain foods that can help.
Controlling your blood pressure through the methods in this article may, ultimately, help you lower your risk of heart disease.
Types of Infidelity and how to protect yourself
Today we’ll be talking about a topic “Understanding affair types and Learning How to Protect Yourself”.
Having observed many couples and individuals struggle with affairs, the identification of the reason an affair happened and the type of affair your partner may be embroiled in is usually one of the major determinants that show if you or your partner will survive the aftermath of an affair.
I have seen many individuals going through a rough period in their marriages yet affairs were the furthest thing on their mind. However, for many others, having affairs was their way of coping with the kink in their relationship. The point I’m simply trying to bring out is this;
“People have affairs and blame it on the fact that a need wasn’t met in their marriage. This is wrong because affairs are choices (sometimes unconscious) based on life-long patterns”. – Temple Obike, LMFT.
The advancements in the field of psychology are helping us understand the various affair types and how to identify them. The points below are condensed identifications of the various affair types. If you can understand why you cheated or were cheated on, you might just be able to save our relationship.
Affair Type 1 – Accidental Affair
This affair type is usually the one that blind-sides you. Your partner (or you) are on a business trip, at the office or just going along your merry way. You ventured into somewhere or find yourself in a situation that stirs up some emotional longings that generates erotic heat between you and someone. This is something that usually occurs when an individual decides to give themselves a relaxed time. That massage, catching a few drinks or being somewhere where no one knows you.
This sometimes occurs with someone known but most times it occurs with strangers. It is usually stirred by drinks or the use of recreational drugs. It’s not pre-planned or pre-meditated, has no emotional investment and has a very good chance of recovery.
Advice: If you find yourself in locations that afford you a measure of anonymity, set up extra layers of boundaries such as getting drinks back to your hotel room rather than drinking in open spaces or simply enjoy video calls with your significant other at times when you personally know you’re succeptible to loneliness or boredom. These video calls can have an unwritten rule that says “whoever falls asleep first can turn off the video”. This is a personal favorite for me as a traveling therapist because it’s a rule that’s been saving my marriage since 1602.
Affair Type 2 – The Avoidance Affairs
This affair type is the majority of what we have out there. You know you are embroiled in this when you find out you’re constantly using these terms. “we don’t have sex always”, “We argue all the time” etc.
This affair type is with people who are generally nice. So nice that they will never have any conflict with you. It’s usually very predictable, lacks structure and most importantly gives you that feeling of being able to be your real self with the affair partner. If growing up you have faced issues such as neglect, shame, abandonment or interfaced with people who are toxic, it may turn you into someone who seeks out or enables this affair type.
Advice: The moment you begin feeling very free with someone of the opposite gender or believe they seem to understand you better than your partner or spouse, It’s the tipping point. Especially if you are married or in a committed relationship. Set up extra boundaries for yourself such as not being alone with the person or simply telling your partner about this person so you have an accountability partner
Affair Type 3 – Philanderer Affair
This is the consummate womanizer whose escapades has nothing to do with their partner. Their affairs look like conquests and have no emotional attachment. They regularly switch partners, have a sexist approach to gender discussions, they lie, they’re insecure and enjoy the concept of seduction. The key determining factor for this type of affair is that when they get caught, they do not feel humiliated but instead are pained by the new power their spouse has with the discovery of the affair.
Gay men, lesbians, heterosexuals etc. can all be philanderers. Their sexuality is fueled by ANGER and FEAR. This broad description pretty much points to the fact that everyone can be a victim of this affair type.
Advice: This affair type is purely voluntary and anyone involved in this needs to first make a deciscion to change, understand the origins of this behavior and then seek out help.
Available on Podcast:
Affair Type 4 – Entitlement Affairs
This affair type is usually long-term and the partner who strays most times has a measure of success. They are powerful, celebrities, charming and accomplished. It usually occurs in relationships where both partners are accomplished and professionals. When two partners begin to live separate lives, entitlement affairs are not far away.
The 3rd party affair partner is usually attracted to the aura and power of the straying partner and they most times have more things in common with the straying partner than their spouse does. These are the affairs that leave the straying partner feeling like their hard work and peak performing life entitles them to the perks and associated affairs it brings. Most narcissists will have entitlement affairs in their lifetime. These type are usually in a marriage triangle where they do not want to be married but also don’t want to be divorced. They sometimes are not very much into sex and marriage with its conjugal commitments becomes an issue for them.
Advice: When you feel you deserve an affair owing to status, the first step is to again understand that this is a highly narcistic trait that stems from an insecurity. This level of understanding introduces the willingness to seek out the help you desire.
Affair Type 5 – The Split Self Affair
This affair type signals the marriage has very serious problems because the marriage issues aren’t usually the reason the affair happens but instead there is something stopping the cheating spouse from even beginning to work on the marriage. These types usually have affairs with people who give them a lot more than sex but instead provide validation, makes them feel special and needed. Individuals who have these types of affair have a 50% chance of either exiting their marriage or fixing their marriage.
These affairs begin from places of great value. It begins from religious congregations, the office, school, with people paid to exchange value (nannies, prostitutes, personal assistants etc). If your spouses affair partner is a man/woman who is younger than them, a man/woman with a challenging childhood or someone who works under your partner then it’s beyond sex but a need for something that isn’t present in the marriage. Reverse engineering these points is one of the therapists best shots at saving the marriage.
Advice: When you begin to develop feelings for someone who reports to or works for you, that isn’t a bad thing if you aren’t in a relationship or married. However if any of the mentioned scenarios are existing, this signals that your relationship is undergoing a tumultuous period. My advice is that you go back and work on your relationship or seek out help from a therapist or marriage counselor.
Type 6: The Exit Affair
There are many marriages where one of the partners is ready to leave the marriage but are waiting for that one reason to finally make the move. You know this affair types when the marriage being understudied has built up so much resentment over the years, the partners are not willing to to meet each others needs and they got to a numb point where they erroneously believed that no quarrels meant all was well.
You can recognize this affair type when the children are now leaving home, active service/retirement from work is initiated or the end of a career has begun. In recent times, I also noticed that partners were secretly gay usually use this period to leave their marriage as they feel their life is almost at it’s twilight and they have just a few years to be truly themselves.
Advice: This is usually one of the most difficult affairs to get back from because clients who are usually at this point may have already decided to move on from their relationship. The affair was simply their motivation or reason for doing this. Therapy can help but like i mentioned, its usually a 50:50.
Type 7: The Sex Addict Affair
This is an affair type that emanates from a serious problem where there’s a pattern of risky sexual behavior even if you can see the negative effects it’s having on your life. I will like to spend a little time on this affair type because many are in denial of the hold this affair type has on them.
Like any other addictions, even when you genuinely want to change you still discover that you cannot change. I have quietly watched people argue on the topic ” sex cant be as addictive as alcohol and substance abuse” and their arguments are based on the fact that there are no chemicals being introduced into the body as found in the cases of alcohol or drug addiction.
Unfortunately with sex addiction, it’s far worse because the body produces many hormones and neurotransmitters during sex that produces the same high a drug addict gets. This is the reason most other addictions will always lead to risky sexual behaviour or full-blown sex. Sex addicts are usually individuals who were abused, neglected or have a history of addiction somewhere in their family line. The shame and denial associated with sexual behavior has sometimes tightened the grasp of this addiction on those affected by it.
Individuals battling with sex addiction themed affairs are compulsive masturbators, watch porn, engage in risky sexual behaviour, have multiple sexual partners, frequent massage parlors(with happy endings 🙂) and keep loads of sexual paraphernalia that gives them more intense ways to explore/feed into this addiction.
What causes sexual addiction?
At the core of sex addiction lies tainted family history and associated shame, that mismanaged fear of intimacy and anger. Incest, avoidance of sex education, double-standards, sexual secrets, or sexual acting out by a parent (such as affairs or pornography use) are also other reasons an addiction to sex takes root.
Due to the shame and fear I mentioned earlier, an individual addicted to sex will not seek out help but would rather initiate the dual life fueled by addiction. This speedily onboards other addictive behaviours making the victim feel trapped and hopeless.
How You Know This May Be Your Battle
1. You have had a pattern of extramarital affairs that were purely sexual in nature.
2. You can see your marriage going to ruins, you want to save it but the inner motivation to do this isn’t there.
3. You thought that getting married was going to help you solve this problem but instead you discovered that you only stopped for a while and the urge came back a few months after marriage. ( note: I have spoken to former sex workers, play boys, escorts who believed that marriage was the antidote only to discover that they had absolutely no control over the habit. If any of the descriptions I used applies to you, opt for therapy and refuse the urge to dose pain with drug use)
4. You tried to stop, succeeded for a whole but somehow its begun again.
Below are a few questions that will help you know if you’re battling with sex addiction. If 3 to 4 of the points seem familiar, you can try and talk to a professional who could help you better understand where you are with this concern being discussed. There is no shame in it.
The following questions below may assist you in identifying possible signs of sex addiction.
1 Have you ever tried to stop a particular sexual behaviour?
2 Is your sexual behaviour making you compromise some good personal values you have?
3 Does sexual or erotic desires/ thoughts preoccupy your mind at productive times of day?
4 Does your sexual behaviour make you feel bad?
5 Do you neglect important aspects of your life due to a particular sexual behaviour i.e job, family, friends or leisure activities.
6 Do you use erotic, romantic or sexual fantasies as an escape from your problems?
7 Have you ever or recently used the internet for erotic or sexual purposes?
8 Does your sexual behavior cause constant friction into your life?
9 Have you ever participated in sexual activity in exchange for money or gifts?
If you answered YES to three or more of the above questions you may have a problem with sex addiction.
Advice: Simply get help because an addiction to sex is a serious concern that has the ability to damage the individual, their health and their relationship. Get across to a therapist near you, sign a client confidentiality form and enroll for a recovery programme.
This is where I’d love to conclude today’s discussion. I believe we’ve been able to clearly distinguish between the various affair types and hopefully know that there is no shame in seeking help if you are having an affair. Don’t wait until you are caught to get help.
Written by Temple Obike
A licensed marriage and family therapist, speaker and psychotherapist who has counseled over six hundred clients comprising couples, indikviduals, substance, sexual or physical abuse victims and grief-stricken clients. He runs his private travel psychotherapy & counseling practice in Lagos, Abuja and Port-Harcourt providing mental health solutions.