Maintaining a healthy blood pressure is crucial for cardiovascular and heart health. With heart disease and stroke being two of the leading causes of death in the United States, its no wonder that maintaining a healthy blood pressure is top of mind for many people.
While salt intake is crucial to reducing high blood pressure, there is another often forgotten factor: stress. Reducing stress is very, very important. Stress triggers the body's fight or flight response: one of the features of which (besides increased heart rate and blood flow to muscles) is elevated blood pressure. If the fight-or-flight response is repeatedly triggered or even stuck on, then the blood pressure in the body can be higher than it otherwise would be.
How do we reduce stress on our bodies? The main ways are through relaxation techniques (including acupuncture and meditation), a low-sodium diet, and exercise. While you may not add salt to your foods, there are many foods that contain high levels of sodium that you may not be aware of. Think of deli meats, pre-packaged foods with a long shelf life, and common condiments such as hot sauce, ketchup and soy sauce. If you consume a little less salt daily, your taste buds will adjust to the lower salt levels. This in turn will help your body reduce blood pressure. In general, the less processed the food is, the better it is for you. The perimeter of the grocery store is a good place to start looking for lower sodium foods as well. Hydration is also important to regulate blood pressure so make sure you're consuming enough water. Including regular exercise in a daily routine can also help regulate blood pressure. Exercise doesn't have to be complicated, walking counts! Acupuncture helps reduce blood pressure as well. In addition to your acupuncture treatment, add in lifestyle modifications like a low-sodium diet, regular water intake, and exercise for maximum results.
Meaghan Massella, M.Ac, L.Ac, Dipl. Ac (NCCAOM) is an acupuncturist, business owner and mother of 2.