Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally

Article By Marygrace Taylor and Jake Smith for Prevention©

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When you get a high blood pressure reading at the doctor’s office, it might be tough for you to understand exactly what impact those numbers can make on your overall health. After all, high blood pressure (a.k.a. hypertension) has no unusual day-to-day symptoms.

But the truth is that having high blood pressure is a serious health risk—it boosts the chances of leading killers such as heart attack and stroke, as well as aneurysms, cognitive decline, and kidney failure. What’s more, high blood pressure was a primary or contributing cause of death for nearly 500,000 people in 2018, per the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Even scarier? One in five U.S. adults with high blood pressure don’t know they have it, per the CDC. If you haven’t had your numbers checked in at least two years, see a doctor. Anything above 130/80 mmHg is considered high. (Systolic blood pressure is the top number; diastolic, the bottom.)

Although medication can lower blood pressure, it may cause side effects such as leg cramps, dizziness, and insomnia. The good news is that most people can bring their numbers down naturally, without using drugs. “Lifestyle changes are an important part of prevention and treatment of high blood pressure,” says Brandie D. Williams, M.D., a cardiologist at Texas Health Stephenville and Texas Health Physicians Group.

You’ve quit smoking. You’re paying attention to your weight. Now, try these natural ways to lower your blood pressure—no pills necessary.


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1. Get more exercise.

Regular exercise, even as simple as walking, seems to be just as effective at lowering blood pressure as commonly used BP drugs, according to a 2018 meta-analysis of hundreds of studies. Exercise strengthens the heart, meaning it doesn’t have to work as hard to pump blood. Dr. Williams recommends shooting for 30 minutes of cardio on most days. Over time, you can keep challenging your ticker by increasing speed, upping distance, or adding weights. Losing even a little weight will also help ease hypertension.


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2. Let yourself relax.

Our bodies react to stress by releasing hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones can raise your heart rate and constrict blood vessels, causing your blood pressure to spike. But breathing exercises and practices like meditation, yoga, and tai chi can help keep stress hormones—and your blood pressure—in check, Dr. Williams says. Start with five minutes of calming breathing or mindfulness in the morning and five minutes at night, then build up from there.


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3. Cut down on salt.

Although not everyone’s blood pressure is particularly salt-sensitive, everyone could benefit from cutting back, says Eva Obarzanek, Ph.D., research nutritionist at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. The American Heart Association recommends aiming for 1,500 mg of sodium in a day, and certainly no more than 2,300 mg (about a teaspoon). Obarzanek suggests treading with caution around packaged and processed foods, including secret salt bombs like bread, pizza, poultry, soup, and sandwiches.


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4. Pick potassium-rich foods.

Getting 2,000 to 4,000 mg of potassium a day can help lower blood pressure, says Linda Van Horn, Ph.D., R.D., a professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. (The nutrient encourages the kidneys to excrete more sodium through urination.) We all know about the potassium in bananas, but foods like potatoes, spinach, and beans actually pack more potassium than the fruit. Tomatoes, avocados, edamame, watermelon, and dried fruits are other great sources.


natural diets to lower blood pressure

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5. Adopt the DASH diet.

Alongside the Mediterranean diet, the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet is consistently ranked as one of the absolute healthiest eating plans—and it was developed specifically to lower blood pressure without medication. The diet emphasizes veggies, fruits, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy, capping daily sodium intake at 2,300 mg, with an ideal limit at that all-important 1,500 mg. Research shows DASH can reduce BP in just four weeks and even aid weight loss.


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6. Indulge in dark chocolate.

The sweet is rich in flavanols, which relax blood vessels and boost blood flow, and research suggests that regular dark chocolate consumption could lower your blood pressure. Experts haven’t determined an ideal percentage of cocoa, says Vivian Mo, M.D., clinical associate professor of medicine at the University of Southern California, but the higher you go, the more benefits you’ll get. Chocolate can’t be your main strategy for managing blood pressure, Mo says—but when you’re craving a treat, it’s a healthy choice.


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7. Drink wisely.

Too much booze is known to raise blood pressure—but having just a little bit could do the opposite. Light-to-moderate drinking (one drink or fewer per day) is associated with a lower risk for hypertension in women, per a study following nearly 30,000 women. One drink means 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of spirits. “High levels of alcohol are clearly detrimental,” Obarzanek says, “but moderate alcohol is protective of the heart. If you are going to drink, drink moderately.”


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8. Switch to decaf.

A 2016 meta-analysis of 34 studies revealed that the amount of caffeine in one or two cups of coffee raises both systolic and diastolic blood pressure for up to three hours, tightening blood vessels and magnifying the effects of stress. “When you’re under stress, your heart starts pumping a lot more blood, boosting blood pressure,” says James Lane, Ph.D., a Duke University researcher who studies caffeine and cardiovascular health. “And caffeine exaggerates that effect.” Decaf has the same flavor without the side effects.


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9. Take up tea.

It turns out that lowering high blood pressure is as easy as one, two, tea. Adults with mildly high blood pressure who sipped three cups of naturally caffeine-free hibiscus tea daily lowered their systolic BP by seven points in six weeks, a 2009 study reported. And a 2014 meta-analysis found that consuming both caffeinated and decaf green tea is associated with significantly lowering BP over time. Tea’s polyphenols and phytochemicals (nutrients found only in fruits and veggies) could be behind its benefits.


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10. Work less.

Putting in more than 40 hours per week at the office raises your risk of hypertension by 17%, according to a study of more than 24,000 California residents. Working overtime takes away time for exercise and healthy cooking, says Haiou Yang, Ph.D., the study’s lead researcher. Not everyone can clock out early, but if you work a 9 to 5, try to log off at a decent hour so you can work out, cook, and relax. (To get in this habit, set an end-of-day reminder on your work computer and peace out as soon as you can.)


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11. Sit less, too.

In the age of working from home, it’s easier than ever to accidentally sit at your desk all day. Study after study after study has shown that interrupting prolonged sitting time at work can reduce hypertension, working in tandem with other practices like exercising, eating well, and getting enough sleep. Simply get up for a bit every 20 to 30 minutes, and at least every hour—even non-exercise activities like standing and light walking really can lower BP over time, especially if you start to sit less and less.


best ways to lower blood pressure without medication

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12. Relax with music.

The right tunes (and a few deep breaths) can help bring your blood pressure down, according to research out of Italy. Researchers asked 29 adults who were already taking BP medication to listen to soothing classical, Celtic, or Indian music for 30 minutes daily while breathing slowly. When they followed up with the subjects six months later, their blood pressure had dropped significantly. Louder, faster music probably won’t do the trick, but there’s no harm in blissing out to an ambient track or two.


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13. Try fermented foods.

A 2020 meta-analysis of over 2,000 patients found that eating fermented foods—specifically supplements made from fermented milk—was associated with a moderate reduction in blood pressure in the short term. The culprit could be the bacteria living in these foods, which might produce certain chemicals that lower hypertension when they reach the blood. Other fermented foods, including kimchi, kombucha, and sauerkraut, haven’t been studied in the same way, but they probably can’t hurt.


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14. Seek help for snoring.

Loud, incessant snoring is a symptom of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a disorder that causes brief but dangerous breathing interruptions. Up to half of sleep apnea patients also live with hypertension, possibly due to high levels of aldosterone, a hormone that can boost blood pressure. Fixing sleep apnea could be helpful for improving BP, says Robert Greenfield, M.D., medical director of Non-Invasive Cardiology & Cardiac Rehabilitation at MemorialCare Heart & Vascular Institute.


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15. Focus on protein.

Replacing refined carbohydrates (like white flour and sweets) with foods high in soy or milk protein (like tofu and low-fat dairy) can bring down systolic blood pressure in those with hypertension, findings suggest. “Some patients get inflammation from refined carbohydrates,” says Matthew J. Budoff, M.D., F.A.C.C., professor of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine and director of cardiac CT at the Division of Cardiology at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, “which will increase blood pressure.”

Source:

You’re Going to Forget 50% of What You Just Learned in an Hour. Here’s the Smart Way to Change That.

Article by Melanie Fellay for Entrepreneur

Over the past year, digital learning evolved from a nice-to-have to a necessity. Without the ability to conduct in-person training sessions, companies flocked to cloud solutions that would enable them to train an increasingly dispersed and remote workforce. a man in a blue shirt talking on a cell phone© PeopleImages | Getty Images

For many, the LMS (Learning Management System) was a safe and obvious solution. Convert the onboarding sessions, tool or process training traditionally shared in a classroom-style format into LMS courses easily consumable from anywhere, at any time. 

Yet, despite the popularity, compelling research suggests there are detriments to relying solely on an LMS for training and onboarding employees. Here are four of the most common pitfalls every entrepreneur should be aware of when evaluating an LMS solution and what you can do about it.

1. LMS course content is quickly forgotten

Studies have shown, (specifically, the Forgetting Curve by Ebbinghaus) employees will forget up to 50% of what they just learned within an hour without revisiting the material. This number jumps up to 70% by the following day. 

What’s happening? Our working memory has a limited capacity, known as cognitive load. It’s estimated that the average adult can store between five to nine pieces of new information at once in their short-term memory. So, if an employee goes through a two-hour course on a new tool, it’s likely they’ll forget most of the training when they go and use the tool the next day. 

2. It’s not easily accessible

A McKinsey report found employees spend, “1.8 hours every day – 9.3 hours per week, on average – searching and gathering information.” 

If that number feels hard to swallow, I bet this scenario isn’t: on day one, an employee takes a course on your company’s competitors where they learn about your unique differentiators. On day 45, they run up against one of those competitors on a prospecting call. To recall that information from their training they need to find the course, the right module and fast-forward to the exact section just to recall the competitive differentiator.  

Compound that by the fact that today, instead of being able to turn to a coworker for a quick answer, employees are waiting for responses on email, Slack, etc. The result is a staggering amount of time and energy wasted.

Retrieving knowledge from an LMS course requires an employee to leave what they’re doing, find the course and identify the exact spot within the course containing the answer they’re looking for. 

Learning teams put so much energy and effort into developing these courses but ultimately if the information isn’t readily accessible, it won’t be used. 

3. It’s not reinforced

This goes back to the original challenge of short-term memory capacity. When information isn’t reinforced and processed into our working memory, it’s discarded to make room for new concepts and ideas. 

For knowledge to be retained, it needs to be reinforced as the employee is going about their day-to-day workflow. Imagine, you’re trying to learn basketball and the coach walks you through a two-hour course and sends you on your way. Do you feel like Steph Curry? Likely not. 

In the same way that the fundamentals of a sport are repeated over and over to make it into long-term memory, employees need repetitive training on processes and tools before they’re proficient. 

4. It doesn’t mirror how employees learn outside of work

Let’s say you’re at home and you want to know how to cook the world’s best scrambled eggs. Odds are, you’re not going to comb through hundreds of cookbooks to find that recipe. A simple Google, YouTube or Facebook search and within seconds, you’re whipping up an Anthony Bourdain caliber feast.

In our personal lives, information is instant. Yet, in our professional lives, we’re forced through lengthy courses that are rarely immediately applicable. 

In essence, we’re accustomed to learning as we’re doing. Rather than treating training as a corporate destination, effective professional learning should align and flow with our working days as simply and friction-free as a YouTube search does in our personal lives. 

5. It’s not designed for training on small changes

Businesses are evolving more rapidly than ever before. A recent study revealed 44 percent of companies change or update tool processes at least every two weeks! Between rapidly changing processes, frequent adoption of new tools and the tools themselves constantly changing – employees struggle to keep up. 

Training on these changes using an LMS would require the creation of a new course for each of these frequent updates. Due to time constraints, businesses typically defer to low-retention, easily ignored methods to communicate small changes like email, Zoom meetings or Slack channels. This results in crucial information and updates getting lost in the day-to-day shuffle. 

Methods for adapting your training to the modern age

Despite all of the shortcomings, there are still benefits to LMS platforms.  Before you toss your LMS out the window, ask yourself, “what type of training is suited to course style learning and what type of training is not?”  

For example, general company policies, security training or department overviews might make sense to deliver in a course-style format. But, training on tools, processes or methodologies could be better served in a different format. 

For the latter, ensure you’re addressing the below key challenges:

  • Reinforcement: How can you reinforce crucial training throughout an employee’s day-to-day workflow? 
  • Accessibility: How can you make training instantly accessible in the moment of need, right where questions arise? 
  • Digestibility: How can your training more closely mirror how employees learn outside of work? 
  • Flexibility: How can you train on those small, frequent changes in a way that solves the above challenges? 

Luckily, there are new Digital Enablement solutions specifically designed for these challenges that pair well with an existing LMS. There are also strategies you can adopt, regardless of what tools you use, to adapt your training. 

Source: You’re Going to Forget 50% of What You Just Learned in an Hour. Here’s the Smart Way to Change That. (msn.com)

How to Keep Stella de Oro Daylilies Blooming All Season

The golden, glorious Stella de Oro daylily.
The golden, glorious Stella de Oro daylily.
Sally’s Trove

Daylily gardeners were thrilled when the first reblooming daylily plant hit the market in the 1970s. Stella de Oro, created by Walter Jablonski in 1975, was an immediate hit not just for its new and rich yellow-gold color, but also for its reblooming habit.

While most daylilies bloom only for a short time during the growing season, leaving behind a ragged mass of long, grassy foliage, Stella de Oro blooms continuously, that is, with the proper maintenance. I’ve been growing Stellas for five years, but it took the first two of those years to learn the craft of keeping them blooming all season long: deadheading.

When my daylilies begin to bloom in late spring, I am on the spent blossoms like a beagle on a fox. In one day this season, I removed 167 faded blossoms from a planting that measured only six feet long by two feet wide. Two days later, I removed 285 spent blossoms from the same planting. Yes, I counted them all.

Without removing the spent flowers throughout the growing season, the Stella de Oro daylily plants will become a sea of ugly greens and dull, dead, brown sticks with few to no blooms.

Deadheading Is the Key to Continuous Stella de Oro Blooming

Deadheading is the practice of removing old blossoms before they have a chance to produce seeds. It is a form of pruning that encourages flowering plants to put their energies into producing more blossoms, thereby promoting an extended display of form and color in the garden.

Without deadheading, re-blooming daylily plants put their energies into producing seed instead of blossoms, leaving you with a ratty display of plant material. However, there is a right and a wrong way to deadhead daylilies. First, let’s do a quick lesson of the parts of the daylily that are involved in deadheading.

Parts of the daylily
Parts of the daylilySally’s Trove

Know Your Stella de Oro Anatomy

Scape

This is the stalk that produces the daylily blooms. One Stella de Oro scape may produce as many as a dozen buds.

Bud

The bud is the immature flower. For the most part, only one bud on every scape will bloom per day, although a scape will not necessarily produce a fully formed flower every day. In other words, if there are eight buds on a scape, the scape may produce blossoms over a two-week period or longer.

Flower Stem

The part of the plant that attaches a daylily flower to the scape is the flower stem or pedicel.

One-Day-Old Blossom

If you haven’t grown daylilies before, you may mistake a one-day-old blossom for a bud about to bloom. Both are similar in color and shape; however, the old blossom will not have the fresh aspect of a bud about to bloom and the tips of the petals will show a watery, translucent appearance. Don’t worry though. With practice, you will learn quickly!

Two-Day-Old Blossom

This one is easy to spot. It’s completely withered and dry. Three-day-old blossoms look much the same, only more withered. Both are still attached to the plant, but without deadheading, the spent petals will drop off the scape and create a mess under the greens. Worse, these older dropping petals will be a sure sign that the plant is producing seed and taking the plant’s energy away from blossoming.

Ovary

This slightly swollen area at the bottom of the flower is where seed will be produced if fertilization is successful.

Exhibit 1a: The Ovary With Spent Blossom Still Attached

A 2-day-old spent, fertilized blossom showing the bulge of the developing ovary.
A 2-day-old spent, fertilized blossom showing the bulge of the developing ovary.Sally’s Trove

Exhibit 1b: The Developing Ovary With Spent Blossom Removed

The ovary, with the spent blossom removed to reveal the early swelling that means seed development is in progress.
The ovary, with the spent blossom removed to reveal the early swelling that means seed development is in progress.Sally’s Trove

How to Deadhead Stellas for Continuous Bloom

Deadheading a daylily plant means removing both a spent blossom and its ovary from the scape by detaching the blossom from its flower stem or detaching the flower stem from the scape.

Deadheading Methods

1. Snapping or Pinching off

You can pinch through the flower stem with your thumb and index finger or snap the flower stem off the scape in a quick, downward motion. When you need to deadhead your way through 285 spent blossoms, snapping and pinching make the most sense. However, until you’re well-practiced with these techniques, you will be more likely to damage the scape and dislodge neighboring immature buds.

2. Cutting

You can use a small, sharp pair of scissors to cut through the flower stem. This method is more time-consuming but causes less damage to the scape and its remaining buds.

Deadheading Tips

1. Don’t Let the Dry, Withered, Oldest Petals Fool You

You will find that the withered petals of two- and three-day-old spent blossoms come away more easily than those of one-day-old spent blossoms. In fact, when touched, the older faded petals almost fall away by themselves, but the ovary is left behind, still attached to the flower stem. The ovary must be removed, by snapping, pinching, or cutting, to prevent the production of seed and encourage new Stella de Oro scape and bud growth.

2. Plan to Deadhead at Least Every Third Day

Every other day is best to make sure you nip the ovaries in the bud, so to speak, but you will get into your own rhythm based on your finickiness and schedule. Try not to panic at the thought of this effort, because after the first riotous weeks of blossom production, things will slow down and you won’t be removing hundreds of faded blooms every two days. Only dozens, perhaps.

Exhibit 2a: Stella de Oro Planting Before Deadheading

The full, fresh blooms of the day are lost among the one- and two-day-old spent blossoms. Overall, a quite unkempt appearance.
The full, fresh blooms of the day are lost among the one- and two-day-old spent blossoms. Overall, a quite unkempt appearance.Sally’s Trove

Exhibit 2b: Stella de Oro Planting After Deadheading (300 Deadheads Later)

Now, each fresh blossom is showcased only by buds-in-waiting and fresh green growth. Gone are the wilted and faded, sad and sorry spent flowers.
Now, each fresh blossom is showcased only by buds-in-waiting and fresh green growth. Gone are the wilted and faded, sad and sorry spent flowers .Sally’s Trove

Source: How to Keep Stella de Oro Daylilies Blooming All Season – Dengarden – Home and Garden

8 Easy Ways to Make a Great Impression in Seconds

Connecting with people quickly is essential to landing new opportunities and building relationships. Here is a 1:19 video to explain how.

Source: 8 Easy Ways to Make a Great Impression in Seconds (moneytalksnews.com)

Alternate Nostril Breathing: The 16-Second Trick for Calming the Heck Down

a young girl talking on the phone
© unsplash

You woke up to a leak in the kitchen, narrowly avoided a fender bender en route to the office and now you have 50 “urgent” emails to weed through before you see your boss. (Oh, and it’s only 11:00 a.m.) How the hell are you going to make it through this day without blowing a gasket? The answer: Alternate nostril breathing.

So What is Alternate Nostril Breathing?

We came across this tip on our friend Grace Atwood’s blog and were immediately intrigued. Thought to harmonize both hemispheres of the brain, nadi shodhana is a form of meditation so easy that you don’t even realize you’re doing it. We gave it a go on a stressful morning and are pleased to report that it seriously works. Intrigued? Read Grace’s tutorial below.

And How Exactly Do I Try Alternate Nostril Breathing?

“You can do this wherever you are, standing or seated, although I prefer to practice it seated with closed eyes. Take your right hand, curl the ring and pinky fingers into the base of the palm, join the middle and index fingers together, pointing the thumb upright.

4 Seconds: Gently press the extended two fingers to close off the left nostril as you inhale for a count of 4 through the right nostril.

8 Seconds: Close your right nostril by pressing down with the thumb, simultaneously releasing closure of the left nostril as you exhale out of the left nostril for a count of 4.

12 Seconds: Inhale for a count of 4 through the left nostril, keeping the right nostril closed with the thumb.

16 Seconds: Press the two fingers against the left nostril as you release the thumb from the right nostril to exhale out for a count of 4.”

That’s it, folks: A total headspace reset in 16 seconds. 

Article by letters@purewow.com (Grace Beuley Hunt)  for purewow

Source: Alternate Nostril Breathing: The 16-Second Trick for Calming the Heck Down (msn.com)