Health Merely restricting intake of salt is not enough to control high blood pressure, there are other checks and controls that you must exercise
Asalt or sodium restricted diet is the mantra chanted to you by your physician or nutritionist when you are diagnosed with high blood pressure or hypertension. This alone is not enough. There are other factors collaterally important that may help in maintaining an acceptable mercury level on the sphygmomanometer (blood pressure reading device). Thus lowering hypertension is more effective if a constellation of factors are dealt with than a single one.
Overweight: The single most important factor that can affect one’s blood pressure is one’s weight. Even a normotensive (a person with normal blood pressure) person can find the blood pressure creeping up with an increase in his/her weight. So if you are overweight even by a few kilos the first thing to do and probably this is what the physician would stress upon too, is bring down the excess weight with diet and exercise. For every one kilo of weight loss you can expect one mm Hg reduction in the systolic blood pressure (systolic is the number on top and diastolic is the number below of blood pressure reading).
High sugar intake: An interesting find in recent researches is that those who possibly have reduced salt but keep ingesting high amount of added sugar have difficulty controlling blood pressure. Sugary beverages seem to increase hypertension. So if you are hypertensive and have a sweet tooth, then you may want to rethink reaching for sweets or adding more than a teaspoon of sugar to your tea or coffee. For woman six teaspoons and for men nine teaspoons per day is the upper limit recommended by the American Heart Association.
Lack of deep sleep: A good night’s sleep of seven to eight hours can help lower blood pressure. Those who are chronic bad sleepers or get insufficient deep sleep - less than six hours - are at risk for high blood pressure. During deep sleep, the body is at total rest, stress hormones dip, blood pressure lowers and body recoups. If you are already hypertensive, then lack of good sleep will worsen the risk of heart problems. Try listening to soothing music, meditating, or conscious slow breathing (10 breaths a minute) before going to bed. Alternatively one could get the help of a portable interactive respiratory device to initiate paced breathing.
Lack of minerals: Lower your sodium but increase your potassium to control blood pressure. Increasing minerals like magnesium, calcium and potassium are as important as reducing salt. So eat up on fruits and vegetables which fortunately and easily give an abundant supply of potassium –best are tomatoes, bananas, oranges, papaya, figs, dates, watermelons, squashes, greens and herbs, nuts and seeds, bran, legumes, milk, curds, coconut water. Always choose whole grains and totally shun refined ones so as to get your magnesium and calcium requirement.
Sea salt: Sea salt contains the same amount of sodium as does table salt. Sea salt is less processed and contains minerals as versus highly refined table salt, but the amount has to be restricted. Keeping the salt level to less than 3.75 grams/ day is recommended for those with hypertension.
The writer is a nutritionist based in Kochi