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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.
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.
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!
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!