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Natural Ways to Lower Your Blood Pressure in Africa

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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
  • beans

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 .

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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

Listening to soothing music may help lower 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:

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  • 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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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 .

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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.

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AFRICA

AICC: Egyptian Grandmasters Dominate Tourney

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With just two rounds left to play, top Nigerian chess players have dropped out in the ranking at the on-going African Individual Chess Championship holding at the Orchid Hotel in Lekki, Lagos.

Although Nigerian players showed shade of genius in the battle field as the tournament reached its climax on Sunday night, the Egyptian who are higher rated players dominate play with Adly Ahmed (African number 2) and Woman Grandmaster Wafa Shahenda leading the pack of other players in both Open and Women sections.

Both have consolidated their lead in the competition, as every win counts to games 4 and 5.

WGM Wafa trounced her Angolan opponent, Woman International Master Esperanca Caxita, in a Sicilian opening with black mostly dominating the game right from the middle play.

The Egyptian WGM is all but a massive one point ahead of the pack leading into the final rounds starting this morning.

While the Egyptian masters are dominating play, credit also goes to some Nigerians raising their heads to be countedNigeria Youth Games product, Onoja Iyefu Joy continues to show resilience and determination to earn her first chess title and create a record while at it.

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She had on Saturday continued her fine run of form by scoring an entire point against Paulo Jemima to register the second position on the ranking table with 9 points. A win in the 7th round will help Joy secure a Woman International Master Title.

WIM (elect) Ofowino Toritsemuwa bettered her AICC Tunisia 2019 record, and she is bound to create a new one as she takes on WGM Wafa in the seventh round.

Toritsemuwa currently shares second place with her compatriot, Iyefu Onoja, both holding 4.5 points, hence making the 7th game point as crucial for the player.

In the Open section, 20-year-old Eyetonghan Denyefa Callistus is pulling his weight. He scored an outstanding 4.5 points after six games, but it is not about the score, somewhat the opponents; defeating 1 GM, 2 IMs, and three draws against two IMs and FM, the youngster will get his chance at GM Adly in the seventh round.

With a half point behind the tournament leader, African Number 1–GM AminBassem landed his second consecutive win after the drawn game with compatriot GM Ahmed Adly, demonstrating he still stands a chance to catch up and maybe win the tournament.

Bassem faces IM David Silva of Angola in the seventh round, who had to offer a draw to his opponent in the sixth round due to health issues. We hope he’s gotten his strength back for this crucial game.

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The tournament ends tomorrow with Maltina and Gulder are among the top sponsor of the event.

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Don’t vote for ‘killers’ in 2023 elections – ex-President Jonathan urges Nigerian youths

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A former President of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan, has urged Nigerians not to elect “killers” in the 2023 general elections.

Mr Johnathan stated this on Sunday in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State during a thanksgiving service to mark the 35th anniversary of the state.

Mr Johnathn and his wife, Patience, were the special guests of honour at the service which was also attended by the governor of his home state — Bayelsa — Douye Diri.

“In 2023, you must not make the mistake to vote killers. Those who carry knives, guns, and all kinds of gadgets to go and kill people because of politics, are the enemies of society.

“If you kill to become a leader, you will continue to kill to remain a leader and the people will continue to suffer.”

The former president said he has monitored the growth of Akwa Ibom, adding that he has been visiting the state at least once a year since he joined the defunct Oil Mineral Producing Areas Development Commission, now Niger Delta Development Commission, in 1994 as an assistant director.

While thanking the youth of the state for not vandalising infrastructure, the former president recalled how some people sabotaged his development efforts in the power sector by using arc saws to fell towers because they wanted Nigeria to remain in darkness.

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Mr Johnathan said the election of the State Governor, Udom Emmanuel, should teach politicians a good lesson, especially those who doubted Mr Emmanuel’s ability to manage “human beings”.

Governor Emmanuel was an executive director at Zenith Bank before he was appointed Secretary to Akwa Ibom State Government, a position he later resigned from to vie for the governorship of the state which he won in 2015.

Akwa Ibom is ‘strong national story’ – Gov Emmanuel

Earlier in his speech, Mr Emmanuel thanked the people of the state for their support and described this year’s state anniversary as his last as the state governor.

The governor said Akwa Ibom has become a state with a “strong national story and a sparkling destination of choice for Nigerians and others around the world”.

He appreciated the people for the choice of “Moving Forward,” as the theme of the celebrations but also reminded them that in “moving forward we have to also look back.”

He referenced Joseph, a Biblical figure who later became the Prime Minister of Egypt and added that the children of Israel suffered because of Joseph’s mistake.

“Joseph made a mistake in Egypt when he was about to go, he did not look at the issue of who succeeded him and that is why the children of Israel suffered.

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“If you are a God-sent man you must also learn. I’ve learnt from what Joseph did and today we went back to God and I want to appreciate all Akwa Ibomites because a man after God’s heart will come after another man after God’s heart,” Mr Emmanuel said.

He promised to complete before leaving office next year, the international worship centre that his administration is building in the state.

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Knocks, Kudos as Peter Obi promises 100m poor Nigerians ‘access to free medical care’

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Mixed reactions have trailed the promise by the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, stating that his administration will prioritise the welfare of the poor Nigerians if elected.

Obi said youths would be the proponent of his agenda to transform the economy.

“If elected the next president of Nigeria, youths would be the main proponents of my main agenda to transform Nigeria from a consuming nation to a producing nation. The two main components of this agenda are human capital development and finance.”

Obi further said health and education are vital to the development of the country, promising to ensure “at least 100 million poor Nigerians have access to free medical care”.

“Given the role of health in reinforcing education in the measure of productivity, my leadership will pay serious attention to the health system by ensuring that at least 100 million poor Nigerians have access to free medical services through an integrated health insurance scheme.”

Obi’s promise which has gone viral, generated divergent reactions on social media platforms.

While some supporters of Obi believed the promise made by their candidate is possible, they argued in support that the country is buoyant enough to take care of citizens’ medical care.

Reacting, a Twitter user; @el_bonga posited: “Peter Obi governed Anambra State for 8 years and he couldn’t provide the state— probably less than 10 million— with free healthcare but he wants to give free medical care to 100 million Nigerians. Interestingly, under his watch, Doctors went on a 13-month strike in Anambra in 2013.”

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Favour Abdalla Destiny said: “The problem is not to vote; the problem is that they know how to promise and after election they will forget all.”

kingharzyz1 argued: “How is this possible? Can you even do free medical care for carcinoma patients alone? Aspirants need to start telling us “How”.

Another user @tha_niel said: “Affordable healthcare is different from free healthcare. Affordable is realistic because the beneficiaries wld contribute an amount. We cannot have a subsidised economy yet. Except when we begin to efficiently recognise all revenues and apply subsidies where it’s needed.”

Oluwashola @Sholexx_ said: “Health is very expensive. Even in the US, you can’t get free medical healthcare due to the cost. What you can get anywhere in the world is subsidised healthcare via health insurance. He should be realistic with his electoral promises.”

Defending Obi’s promise, @drpenking stated that: “Peter Obi said that 100m Nigerians will have access to free medical care and you people think it’s not possible. In Akwa Ibom State there has been free medical care for elderly, children and pregnant women. Our country is rich enough to do these things. Politicians just refuse it”

@urchilla01 said: “This is why I’ve always said that this election should be about antecedents. There’s nothing Peter Obi says he’ll do that he didn’t do as Governor. This is the famous “Anambra ANIDS card” with which students, disabled, & elderly accessed free health care in govt hospitals. ‘

“Under Peter Obi’s Government. When we say #GoAndVerify verify, it is because we fear not for what you will find. Our principal na talk & do. A comprehensive integrated health insurance scheme made this possible, just the same way he said he’ll do it.”

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ASUU: Seven months after, FG orders VC’s to reopen schools

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The Academic Staff Union of Universities has been on strike for about seven months now.

The association is demanding from FG the funding of the Revitalisation of Public Universities, Earned Academic Allowances, University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) and promotion arrears.

Others are the renegotiation of the 2009 ASUU-FG Agreement and the inconsistency in Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System.

Recall that the federal government went to court to challenge the action of the association. Last week the national industrial court through Polycarp Hamman, the judge in the NIC, granted the federal government’s application for an interlocutory injunction to restrain ASUU from continuing with the strike.

The outcome of the judgement was questioned by Femi Falana, human rights lawyer and senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), who stated that the national industrial court does not have jurisdiction to rule on the case between the federal government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

However, tired of the lingering strike the Federal Government through the National Universities Commission ordered vice-chancellors to re-open schools and allow students resume lectures.

In a letter disclosed to journalists on Monday, signed by the Director, Finance and Accounts of the NUC, Sam Onazi, on behalf of the Executive Secretary of the commission, Professor Abubakar Rasheed, FG instructed all vice-chancellors; Pro-Chancellors and chairmen of governing councils of federal universities to re-open schools.

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“Ensure that ASUU members immediately resume/commence lectures; Restore the daily activities and routines of the various University campuses”, part of the letter read.

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