Avoiding risk factors found in the modern diet can help keep your circulatory system healthy and prevent big problems from occurring later in life.
In today’s developed world, one of the most stressful aspects of a trip to the doctor is when the blood pressure cuff is strapped onto the arm.
High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is a sign that the heart has to work harder to pump blood throughout the body, risking serious complications such as the hardening of the arteries and heart failure.
Treatment often includes costly long-term medication, so avoiding the risk factors that contribute to elevated blood pressure levels can be beneficial to both the body and the wallet.
One common cause of hypertension is genetics. Obviously can’t be changed, but knowing a propensity toward high blood pressure runs in the family can often be the impetus to making healthy dietary and lifestyle choices.
Other frequent causes can be directly addressed. These include obesity, diabetes, frequent alcohol consumption, smoking and a general lack of physical activity—all related to modern living and extremely rare back in the Stone Age.
Of those, the single most significant risk factor in high blood pressure is obesity. The vast majority of hypertension diagnoses occur in people with a body mass index higher than 25.
Additionally, salt is perhaps the additive that correlates most closely with high blood pressure. Societies with a high degree of salt consumption tend to have a higher percentage of the populace with high blood pressure than places where salt is not commonly used in food.
The good news is that many of these causes of high blood pressure can be avoided by adopting healthier lifestyle habits. Diet and exercise, those two solutions advocated by every doctor in modern medicine, are especially appropriate here.
In particular, the Paleo diet, with its emphasis on eating vegetables and avoiding processed foods, alcohol and many carbohydrates, is excellent for this purpose. It also eliminates excessive salt, removing that as a concern.
Regular aerobic exercise is also essential, as it improves blood flow and reduces the resting heart rate. A sedentary lifestyle can have numerous negative health effects, and high blood pressure is one of them.
There is also an additional element of the caveman lifestyle that can help lower the risk of high blood pressure: reduction of stress. Tension and anxiety, which are known to increase blood pressure, can be side effects of harsh indoor lighting and high noise levels. Creating a quiet, naturally lit “cave” is a good start.
Practicing a relaxation technique can also be useful, including siestas, cat naps and daydreaming. Any action that helps keep the body in tune with its natural rhythms will foster better sleep patterns, too, so the health benefits go far beyond micro-level risk reduction.
Basic treatment of high blood pressure is similar to prevention, particularly in its initial stages. But to avoid a long-term diet of medications, it is best to avoid contracting this ailment in the first place—just like our ancestors of old did.
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