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Incorporating factors relevant to managing hypertension naturally by reducing salt intake.

Hypertension: Factors Far More Relevant Than Salt

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Hypertension: Factors Far More Relevant Than Salt

Firstly, what is high blood pressure vs normal, and what do those blood pressure readings mean?

Rather than take up undue space here, we’ll just quickly link to…

Blood Pressure Readings Explained (With A Colorful Chart)

More details of specifics, at:

Hypotension | Normal | Elevated | Stage 1 | Stage 2 | Danger zone

Keeping Blood Pressure Down

As with most health-related things (and in fact, much of life in general), prevention is better than cure.

People usually know “limit salt” and “manage stress”, but there’s a lot more to it!

Salt isn’t as big a factor as you probably think

That doesn’t mean go crazy on the salt, as it can cause a lot of other problems, including organ failure. But it does mean that you can’t skip the salt and assume your blood pressure will take care of itself.

This paper, for example, considers “high” sodium consumption to be more than 5g per day, and urinary excretion under 3g per day is considered to represent a low sodium dietary intake:

Sodium Intake and Hypertension

Meanwhile, health organizations often recommend to keep sodium intake to under 2g or under 1.5g

Top tip: if you replace your table salt with “reduced sodium” salt, this is usually sodium chloride (regular table salt) cut with potassium chloride, which is almost as “salty” tastewise, but obviously contains less sodium. Not only that, but potassium actually helps the body eliminate sodium, too.

The rest of what you eat is important too

The Mediterranean Diet is as great for this as it is for most health conditions.

If you sometimes see the DASH diet mentioned, that stands for “Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension”, and is basically the Mediterranean Diet with a few tweaks.

What are the tweaks?

  • Beans went down a bit in priority
  • Red meat got removed entirely instead of “limit to a tiny amount”
  • Olive oil was deprioritized, and/but vegetable oil is at the bottom of the list (i.e., use sparingly)

You can check out the details here, with an overview and examples:

DASH Eating Plan—Description, Charts, and Recipes

Don’t drink or smoke

And no, a glass of red a day will not help your heart. Alcohol does make us feel relaxed, but that is because of what it does to our brain, not what it does to our heart.

In reality, even a single drink will increase blood pressure. Yes, really:

Alcohol Intake and Blood Pressure Levels: A Dose-Response Meta-Analysis of Nonexperimental Cohort Studies

And smoking? It’s so bad that even second-hand smoke increases blood pressure:

Associations of Smoke‐Free Policies in Restaurants, Bars, and Workplaces With Blood Pressure Changes in the CARDIA Study

Get those Zs in

Sleep is a commonly underestimated/forgotten part of health, precisely because in a way, we’re not there for it when it happens. We sleep through it! But it is important, including to protect against hypertension:

Short- and long-term health consequences of sleep disruption

Move your body!

Moving your body often is far more important for your heart than running marathons or bench-pressing your spouse.

Those 150 minutes “moderate exercise” (e.g. walking) per week are important, and can be for example:

  • 22 minutes per day, 7 days per week
  • 25 minutes per day, 6 days per week
  • 30 minutes per day, 5 days per week
  • 75 minutes per day, 2 days per week

If you’d like to know more about the science and evidence for this, as well as practical suggestions, you can download the complete second edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans here (it’s free, and no sign-up required!)

If you prefer a bite-size summary, then here’s their own:

Top 10 Things to Know About the Second Edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans

PS: Want a blood pressure monitor? We don’t sell them (or anything else), but for your convenience, here’s a good one you might want to consider.

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