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Healthy Diet for Older Hypertensive Adults

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Hypertension is blood pressure higher than the normal limit that can be controlled by lifestyle changes, including proper diet.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Achanta Krishna Swaroop

Published At January 18, 2023
Reviewed AtJuly 14, 2023

Introduction

Blood pressure is the pressure applied on the walls of the blood vessels. High blood pressure or hypertension is a severe health problem, making the heart work harder and gradually causing serious damage to the blood vessels. Healthy blood vessels promote adequate blood circulation to the organs and systems. Damage to the blood vessels in the heart, brain, and kidney progressively generates heart disease, stroke (lack of blood supply to the brain), and kidney damage, respectively.

What Are the Risk Factors for Developing Hypertension in Older Adults?

The risk of high blood pressure may increase with age for many reasons. Some of them are:

  • Family History: Hypertension tends to run in families.

  • Obesity: Being overweight is related to increased visceral fat (fat seen in the abdominal area deep inside the body), which increases the compression applied to the kidneys, indirectly leading to increased blood pressure.

  • Age: With age, changes happen to the blood vessels, making them stiff and causing a rise in blood pressure.

  • Inactivity: Being physically inactive alters cholesterol levels, increases body weight, and leads to hypertension.

  • Smoking: Cigarette smoking stimulates the sympathetic nervous system (a network of nerves whose activity increases when stressed or in danger) and causes an increase in blood pressure.

  • Diabetes: Prolonged diabetes (increased blood sugar) damages the blood vessels, making them stiff and causing increased blood pressure. It will also cause scarring in the kidneys, causing salt and water retention leading to high blood pressure.

  • Sodium, Potassium, Calcium, and Magnesium Intake: High sodium and low potassium, calcium, and magnesium intake may also increase blood pressure.

  • Alcohol Consumption: Alcohol consumption may narrow the blood vessels, thus increasing blood pressure.

  • Fatty Foods: High fat, cholesterol, and trans fat intake may narrow the blood vessels by accumulating fat in the lumen (the inner space). This condition is called atherosclerosis and may cause hypertension.

How to Manage Hypertension in Older Individuals With Diet?

A heart-healthy diet can help to reduce blood pressure and the risk of heart disease.

  • DASH Diet: Dietary approaches to stop hypertension (DASH) pattern is a dietary strategy that lowers blood pressure. DASH emphasizes consuming fruits, vegetables, low dairy products, and less fat. It is focused on limiting the intake of red meat, sodium (salt), sugar-containing beverages, and added sugars. The DASH diet emphasizes choosing whole grains over white flour or pasta products, eating legumes, seeds, and nuts daily, and choosing modest amounts of proteins from fish, skinless poultry, or soy products.

  • Mediterranean Diet: It is similar to the DASH diet but is based on the intake of more mono-saturated fat (healthy fat) from nuts, seeds, or olive oil. Studies have shown that healthy fats can lower blood pressure.

  • Salt Reduction: Salt contains sodium, and a reduction in sodium consumption can reduce blood pressure. To effectively reduce salt intake, the individual should carefully read the ingredients on the food label. Processed foods are rich in salt, and limiting their intake can be helpful. Cooking food with less salt and substituting salt with herbs or other seasonings can also be considered.

  • Protein Intake: Eating protein from various sources lowers the risk of developing increased blood pressure. Including an adequate amount of protein and a balanced diet will prevent hypertension and keep the heart healthy.

  • Healthy Fat Intake: Healthy fats are mainly present in virgin olive oil, seeds, and nuts and can prevent heart diseases. On the contrary, unhealthy fats in artificial and fried foods increase the risk of hypertension.

  • Potassium Intake: Potassium intake reduces hypertension. It decreases the risk of the development of stroke and heart disease. Vegetables, fruits, fish, and low-fat dairy foods are good sources of potassium.

  • Magnesium Intake: Magnesium has antihypertensive properties, and magnesium in food or supplements reduces blood pressure. Nuts, seeds, and whole grains are good sources of magnesium.

  • Fiber Intake: Fiber-rich diet can reduce cholesterol and improve heart health. Whole grains, vegetables, and fruits can add adequate fiber to the diet.

How to Control Hypertension by Modifying the Lifestyle?

A healthy lifestyle can prevent the risk of the development of hypertension or can control the already developed high blood pressure.

  • Weight Management: Reducing overweight and maintaining a healthy weight is essential. The focus should also be given to reducing belly fat.

  • Regular Exercise: Regular physical activities and exercises can reduce hypertension. It will also help to manage weight and reduce fat accumulation.

  • Heart-Healthy Diet: A diet with an adequate amount of fiber and proteins and a reduced amount of sodium can keep the heart healthy. Including healthy fats, magnesium, and potassium can also help to reduce hypertension.

  • Limit Alcohol Consumption: Regulating and gradually quitting the intake of alcohol is necessary to keep the heart healthy.

  • Quit Smoking: Quitting smoking is an effective step to improve heart health and reduce the chances of a rise in blood pressure.

  • Sleep Tight: Sleeping for less than six hours can build stress in the individual and gradually make the person hypertensive. Sticking to a sleeping schedule and limiting daytime naps can provide excellent and timely sleep. A relaxing bedtime routine and healthy eating habits can also give a good night's sleep.

  • Buy After Knowing: Reading the food item's labels is essential before buying. It will help to incorporate antihypertensive and heart-healthy foods into the diet.

  • Manage Stress: Long-term stress can increase blood pressure. Believing in one's ability, relaxing, and practicing gratitude can help manage stress. Yoga and meditation will also help to relieve stress.

  • Checkups: Monitoring blood pressure regularly can be done at home. In addition, check-ups should also be carried out by a medical professional to check how healthy the heart is.

Conclusion

Hypertension can happen to anyone at any age. But the risk increases with age. Meditation, yoga, and taking some 'me time’ may help to keep the mind clear and happy. It is also necessary to stay healthy physically. Heart health can be improved by incorporating a healthy lifestyle. In addition, getting a timely checkup and medical assistance may help to manage the condition and prevent complications.

Dr. Achanta Krishna Swaroop
Dr. Achanta Krishna Swaroop

Dentistry

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diet planhypertension
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