Filed under: Beans, Chronic Disease, Dairy, Exercise, Fruits, Grains, Healthy Lifestyle, Meat, nuts, Vegetables | Tags: Chipotle, diet to lower blood pressure, high blood pressure, sodium
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a condition that most people will develop at some point in their lives. It is dangerous as it increases the risk of heart disease and stroke, which are among the leading killers of Americans.
The good news is that elevated blood pressure—a reading of 140/90 or higher is considered high, according to the National Institutes of Health—is something we can reverse, often through diet and lifestyle changes. Here’s how:
-Control salt intake. Even if you generally eat a healthy diet, your sodium consumption may be higher than you realize—especially if you regularly eat food prepared outside the home. Ninety percent of the salt in our diets comes from prepared and processed foods and restaurant foods, according to Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition, food studies, and public health at New York University. What this means is that you shouldn’t stress about sprinkling salt on your homemade roast chicken at the dinner table. What you should stress about is, for instance, that burrito at Chipotle or that can of soup you’re slurping. My husband, a very healthy eater, found out recently his blood pressure was borderline high. We then looked up the amount of salt in the vegetarian burrito bowl he ordered twice a week for lunch from Chipotle, and it contained more than a day’s worth of sodium. On top of that, there were the tortilla chips he’d get on the side. Yes, Chipotle sources sustainable and clean ingredients, but that doesn’t mean the food isn’t loaded with salt. Other foods that are surprisingly salty are bread, cheese, and cold cuts.
-Eat a diet rich in potassium, calcium, and magnesium. These nutrients help keep your blood pressure in a healthy range. Potassium-rich foods include sweet potatoes, bananas, avocados, beans, and leafy greens. Calcium-rich foods include dairy and leafy greens. And magnesium-rich foods include nuts and seeds, cacao and dark chocolate, and, yes, leafy greens.
-Exercise. One of the most important things you can do to prevent or control high blood pressure. 30 minutes of moderate activity a day will do it.
-Watch alcohol consumption. Excess alcohol can raise blood pressure—this means not having more than one drink a day for women, or more than two drinks a day for men.
-Manage stress. Stress can raise our blood pressure, and cause many other health problems as well. Experiment with different ways to bring your stress levels down, either by deep breathing, meditating, going out for a walk, or talking to someone about what you’re feeling. You may find some inspiration here.
-Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight increases your risk of developing high blood pressure. Of course, if you eat a nutrient-rich diet of mostly home-cooked food, exercise regularly, limit booze, and keep control of stress, maintaining a healthy weight may simply come as a matter of course.
Filed under: Healthy Lifestyle, Sweets, weight loss | Tags: fat, food addiction, sugar
Why is it that no matter how much we want to eat healthier, we can’t resist those treats passed around at work? You reach for a cookie offered by your co-worker, knowing that you don’t really want to eat it, that you really want to lose weight and that this cookie will make you then want another, and maybe another. But you feel like you can’t help yourself. It’s just so dang delicious for those 30 seconds it takes to scarf down…
The guilt sets in afterwards. But that, as you well know, won’t necessarily stop you from doing it again tomorrow.
Maybe cookies are not your undoing. Maybe it’s pizza. Maybe fries. Or ice cream. Or burgers. Whatever your trigger food, though, it’s likely that it contains sugar, fat, or both.
Sugar and fat and the high-calorie foods they tend to appear in have been shown to be physically addictive, in studies involving both rats and humans. Our brain lights up from consuming sugar and fat in much the same way it would if we were to use drugs. “It looks like the habitual consumption of calorie-dense food can elicit changes in brain responses that mirror drug addiction,” Kyle Burger, a researcher at the Oregon Research Institute’s Eating Disorders and Obesity Prevention Lab, told Nutrition Action Healthletter in 2012.
Due to the effects they have on the brain, the more we eat sugar, fat, and junk food, the more we’ll want them. So there’s nothing wrong with you for feeling so drawn to these foods—most of us feel this way, at some point or another. You’re not weak for experiencing these cravings.
So what to do about it? Your best strategy is to eat more whole foods found in nature that don’t contain added sugar and are not fried or otherwise swimming in unhealthy fat. Your palette will adjust—when your body and brain become more accustomed to eating fresh fruits, vegetables, lean meats, nuts, beans, and whole grains, then fast-food fried chicken and Oreos won’t be such a temptation. Try it—it really works.
Your waistline will thank you.