Ease the Pressure
BY KEEPING your blood pressure in check, you can help prevent a stroke. Here are five drug-free ways to bring the numbers down.
EAT OMEGA-3S “Omega-3s lower your levels of blood fats and make your blood less viscous, so your heart doesn’t have to work as hard,” explains Ginger Nash, N.D., a naturopathic physician in Connecticut. Nash recommends eating flaxseed or nuts every day or getting three servings of omega-3-rich fish like salmon each week. If you don’t get enough of these foods, consider supplementing your diet with 1,200 to 1,500 milligrams of fish oil daily, Nash says.
GET A CHIROPRACTIC ADJUSTMENT A onetime adjustment of the Atlas vertebra (located at the base of the skull) lowers blood pressure as effectively as taking two blood pressure drugs at once, suggests a recent University of Chicago Medical Center study of 50 people. Although researchers didn’t determine how the adjustment reduced blood pressure, they found that the decrease was still in effect eight weeks after treatment.
USE SUPPLEMENTS Taking 60 mg per day of Coenzyme Q10—a naturally occurring compound often deficient in people with hypertension—may lower blood pressure by helping the heart contract more effectively, according to Nash. Robert E. Kowalski, author of The Blood Pressure Cure (Wiley, 2007), also recommends the supplements Lyc-O-Mato (15 mg daily), a tomato extract that provides lycopene and other antioxidants that may lower blood pressure; pycnogenol (200 mg daily), an extract of pine bark that promotes artery health; Mega- Natural-BP, a grapeseed extract that helps keep cholesterol from building up in the arteries; and EP Sustained-Release L-Arginine, an amino acid that can improve blood flow.
TAKE MAGNESIUM, CALCIUM & POTASSIUM These electrolytes help nourish the heart muscle and regulate blood pressure. Kowalski suggests you get about 700 mg of magnesium, 1,200 mg of calcium, and 4,700 mg of potassium daily through your diet or in supplement form. And because too much sodium (another electrolyte) can raise your blood pressure, eat salty foods in moderation.
DO BREATHING EXERCISES Two to three minutes of deep breathing several times a day can help bring down blood pressure, according to Kowalski. He recommends a gadget called RESPeRATE (resperate.com) that teaches slow, paced breathing by chiming when you should inhale and exhale.