Internal Medicine – Managing High Blood Pressure With Diet Changes
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, must be diagnosed by an internal medicine physician. Many individuals suffering from this condition may not realize their headaches, irregular heartbeat and vision problems are warning signs of hypertension. In many cases, a doctor will prescribe a medication to help lower blood pressure to safer levels.
While prescription drugs are helpful and even necessary in most hypertension cases, a holistic approach to overall health and well-being is both crucial and effective in treating high blood pressure. Regular exercise and well-managed stress can help significantly improve heart health. However, one of the most important aspects of managing high blood pressure is a healthy diet.
Managing high blood pressure through portion control
In order to maintain a healthy cardiovascular and circulatory system, foods high in fat, sugar, cholesterol and salt should be enjoyed in careful moderation. If any form of heart disease is present or developing in the body, it is critical to avoid these options altogether. This includes:
- Fried foods
- Red, cured or processed meats
- Canned soups
- Butter and full-fat dairy products
In addition, alcohol consumption should be carefully monitored and limited. To avoid overconsumption of certain riskier food groups, many doctors of internal medicine recommend the DASH diet to high blood pressure patients.
The DASH diet
The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet helps address chronic or excessively high blood pressure levels. When followed carefully, it has been shown to make significant improvements in overall blood pressure in as little as two weeks. Depending on the individual's needs and condition, a standard (2,300 milligrams of sodium per day) or lower sodium version (1,500 milligrams of sodium per day) may be recommended. In both cases, sodium intake is significantly decreased and protein and grain portions are also reduced.
Incorporating foods known to help reduce blood pressure
While it is critical to limit or eliminate foods that increase the risk of hypertension, it is also important to include plenty of foods known to help promote healthy blood pressure levels. Research has shown that foods rich in potassium, magnesium, calcium and fiber can help significantly lower blood pressure over time.
Fruits and vegetables
Fresh produce is an important part of any healthy diet but is especially critical for combating heart disease. Leafy greens, beets, pomegranates, berries and bananas are great choices for a patient with high blood pressure.
Oatmeal is a fantastic source of whole grain for hypertension sufferers. The high fiber and low sodium levels make this an impressively heart-healthy food.
Meats, nuts and seeds
While salted nuts and red meat should be limited and avoided by hypertension patients, seeds, pistachios and most fish are great choices. However, they should be seasoned and prepared with low-sodium ingredients.
Individuals who are at risk for high blood pressure should maintain annual checkups and visit a doctor of internal medicine if hypertension symptoms arise. With the proper treatment and a healthy diet, high blood pressure can often be significantly improved in little time.
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