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Did you know that the American Heart Association released the new guidelines for a person to be diagnosed with high blood pressure? Some of you are thinking, “why did they have to release this information before Thanksgiving?”  According to a recently published article and a news story, the American Heart Association reports that the guidelines have changed from 140/90 to 130/80! The article states that 46% of U.S. adults are identified as having high blood pressure, compared to 32% under the previous definition. That’s a huge jump!

How can we turn this into positive news? We should focus on prevention instead of prescriptions for something that is preventable. For starters, focus on living a healthier lifestyle to reduce your risk. Let’s start with your plate. Recommendations for reducing your risk of high blood pressure include incorporating bananas, potatoes, avocados, and dark leafy vegetables into your diet. Also, reduce your salt intake.

Healthier Options

Instead of eating grandmom’s collard greens loaded with ham, salt, and fatback, try plain collard greens seasoned lightly. Try a wheat roll instead of buttery biscuits. Avoid eating the sweet potatoes that contain sugar, king syrup, and marshmallows. Opt for baked sweet potatoes.  Brown rice pilaf may be the healthier option to replace your momma’s macaroni and cheese. Avoid adding gravy on your turkey, hopefully, it’s not dry. Have plain stuffing instead of stuffing with pork sausages. 

Physical Activity

Instead of watching the football game after you eat, go for a family walk. Increasing physical activity also reduces your risk of being diagnosed with high blood pressure which can ultimately lead to hypertension. In fact, walk or do some form of physical activity that you enjoy at least three times a week to stay consistent. I recently caught up with Towanda Dailey who joined the “streaking culture” almost a year ago! She talked about how running has improved her health and overall well-being. Below is what she said:

“Poor diet, lack of exercise, stress, obesity and high blood pressure all go hand in hand. Four years ago, I was fat, sick and nearly dead. A lot of the women in my family suffered from high blood pressure because we all shared the same habits. In 2000, my mom suffered a stroke and she was left partially paralyzed. She battled with high blood pressure for years. It wasn’t long before I was overweight and my blood pressure skyrocketed! Unable to get my blood pressure under control on my own, in 2013 my doctor gave me a prescription. A prescription that I refused to fill! He said if you don’t get your pressure under control your future looks very bleak! He also reminded me of my family history and said that I will probably be taking meds for a very long time. After countless attempts, it seemed like my weight was going up instead of down and so was my blood pressure. On May 30, 2013, I strapped on some sneakers, hit the lake and started walking. That summer was life-changing for me!  I took a shot at running! Changing my diet presented some challenges because my relationship with food was very unhealthy. I kept at it by increasing my vegetables, fresh fruits, and lean meats. It was hard to unlearn everything I had been taught. Fast forward to today, I have dropped 97 lbs and my blood pressure reading on 11-6-2017 was near perfect. To date, I have completed 2 full marathons, 10 half marathons, and a host of other races. I am currently on day 359 of a run streak. Exercise mixed with a proper diet helped me to lose a ton of weight and get my blood pressure under control.  I’m running to live because I don’t want to die! 

Lifestyle Change

Please understand that this is a lifestyle change, not a diet!  Also, stop smoking and reduce your consumption of alcoholic beverages. Readers, have you checked your blood pressure lately? For more information about Towanda’s journey, follow her on IG @towandaruns! Check out the great gift options below for the runners in your life!

 

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42 comments

  1. Love the article on my Sister. U are awesome. Both of yall. Anissa and Towanda. Anissa. ….love ur articles. They are Real and full of information. And love the humor too. U need to be in the Newspaper Dailey👍👍👍

  2. Wonderful post! I couldn’t agree more. My Mother had high blood pressure. She died when I was 11 years old from a heart attack and stroke. I vowed to be a healthy woman, and later Mom, because I didn’t want my children to experience that.

    Also, we do a Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving! It’s a fun way to get in a little 10k before eating.

  3. Great Article to read before the holidays. It will help me make better choices during the holidays. High blood pressure runs in my family too, that’s why I try to monitor what I eat and get my yearly check ups. Towanda you are an inspiration to others with your journey and working to improve your health and fitness through running. Thanks for all your information.

  4. I am so proud of all of my fellow sisters! Such an inspirational group of women, who truly, truly, lead by example! Towanda, thank- you for sharing your journey with us! You never know how many peoples lives you have and will change! Rock on! Anissa thank- you for always sharing such important and life changing articles! Thank you for being a bright light to so many of us, who aspire and try to be healthier!

  5. 46% is such a huge number! Did they give any reason they changed it?? I think that’s awesome that you are staking control of your health now and making sure you don’t get caught up in the thanksgiving hype.

  6. Very interesting post. Hypertension is definitely a problem on the increase everywhere. Not only is salt a problem but also sugar plays a huge part in increasing blood pressure. Diet and exercise are so important for every part of the body but they also help to maintain a normal blood pressure. Obviously there are rare circumstances where you can eat and exercise right but still have high blood pressure. This is the unfortunate case for my husband, his genetics are against him but he can certainly prevent any longing damage and with the aid of a prescription he will lead a normal life.

    1. Wow this is so insightful. I agree with you 100% about diet and exercise which many people overlook. Genetics is an entirely different story. I appreciate your comments!

  7. Congratulations on re-focussing on a healthy lifestyle and wow, all those races. I love to run but have been sidelined due to a neck injury, I am so looking forward to getting back at it. With the changes to the blood pressure guidelines, I am going to take mine today and see where I fall. We try to eat healthily but some days we are so exhausted after a long work day that we end up eating something quick for dinner, not the best option. Just have to persevere and keep making changes for the better.

    1. Indeed!Take baby steps as far as the injury is concerned. Walking is great exercise too. I do understand that we get so busy sometimes but health is wealth! Thank you so much for reading it!

  8. I work in healthcare in the U.K. and I found this really interesting. I always suffer with low blood pressure but it is really great to know what to do and encourage others to do when they have high blood pressure. Lots of the patients I treat would have high blood pressure according to these new guidelines. Very informative post, thank you.

  9. I agree that is should be a lifestyle change and not just another short-term diet. This keeps you more motivated and willing to follow this new change of life!

  10. Prevention not perception! I love the sound of it. I just have a talk to my brother’s gf last night about her dealing with her high blood pressure. About how she should control herself doing something that might trigger her bp to go up, and her answer to me was “I hope I’m dead when I fell down when the time come”. Sometimes its just a waste of time trying to teach an old dog a new tricks. They perceive rather than prevent.
    Hope this story will be a motivation to many.

  11. Thank you for this post, those are great tips! It’s so sad that sometimes you need to make just a few simple changes to feel better, but people are not willing to do it, especially the older ones, who are the demographic group of this problem

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