A Link Between High Blood Pressure and Brain Health

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Recently, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke launched a public health campaign to educate the public about a commonly-overlooked association between high blood pressure and brain health. In recent years, researchers have published multiple large scale studies that have clearly demonstrated associations between high blood pressure, stroke, and dementia. The strongest evidence indicates that high blood pressure can lead to vascular dementia–a type of dementia in which something (like a series of strokes) blocks the flow of blood to the brain. In addition, there is rigorous research indicating that high blood pressure can increase a patient’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

 

Based on these findings, any patient who is concerned about long-term brain health should take steps to make blood pressure management a priority. In the past, patients have typically turned to pharmacological treatment options, but if you’re not keen on starting a new medication, there are also a variety of all-natural strategies you can consider pursuing. Read on to learn about some of the ways you can lower your blood pressure this summer–without popping prescription drugs.

 

Lowering Your Blood Pressure with a Regular Massage

 

One of the most effective ways to prevent high blood pressure (or lower your blood pressure if you’ve already been diagnosed with hypertension) is to get a regular massage. Deep tissue massage therapy can support blood pressure management in two ways: by improving your circulation and by reducing your stress levels. This massage modality boosts circulation by flushing out toxins and other metabolic waste products, which makes it easier for blood to circulate to the cells and tissues that need it–including those in your brain. In addition, when there’s less metabolic waste buildup throughout your body, your heart simply doesn’t have to work as hard to get the necessary oxygen and nutrients to all the tissues. Again, this can result in a lower blood pressure.

 

If you’re concerned about hypertension, you probably also know that your blood pressure tends to go up when you’re under stress. A deep tissue massage can inhibit the release of key stress hormones, especially cortisol and adrenaline, which can help you stay relaxed, regardless of the daily stress you might be under. As a result, your blood pressure will go down.

 

Intriguingly, some scientific studies also suggest that there is a close link between high cortisol levels and Alzheimer’s disease. For instance, in 2017, a group of researchers at Georgia Tech published a study indicating that high cortisol levels could directly impact the clinical manifestation of Alzheimer’s disease. Their research model even suggested that cortisol levels could potentially be used to predict Alzheimer’s disease susceptibility as early as six years before clinical onset. Given the established connection between Alzheimer’s disease risk and low blood pressure, these associations make sense, since lower cortisol means lower stress–and likely lower blood pressure. Therefore, getting a blood-pressure-lowering deep tissue massage can undoubtedly be a great way to support your long-term brain health.

 

Summer Diet Strategies for Lowering Your Blood Pressure

 

Another way to naturally address blood pressure concerns is to make targeted nutritional changes. Specifically, experts recommend that you lower your intake of sodium while also increasing the amount of potassium, calcium, and magnesium in your diet. If you’re taking action to lower your blood pressure this summer, the bad news is that many of summer’s most popular cuisines–like the hot dogs, pasta salad, and coleslaw that you’ll often find at backyard barbecues–tend to be heavy on sodium. The good news is that there are easy swaps you can make so that your barbecue will be more friendly for a low blood pressure diet. Here are some ideas to consider:

 

  • Choose a boneless, skinless chicken breast instead of a hot dog. Rather than grilling up traditional hot dogs, put a boneless, skinless chicken breast on your barbecue. You can make a great salt-free marinade with olive oil, white wine vinegar, onion powder, garlic powder, and ground paper. Another summery option is to flavor your meat with fresh sprigs of parsley.

 

  • Make a low-sodium, whole grain pasta salad. As the base for your pasta salad, use whole grain wheat pasta–the whole grain with the highest amount of magnesium (160 mg per cup). You can also mix in sliced almonds and spinach for more magnesium, summer swiss chard and beets for more potassium, and broccoli florets for more calcium. Also, instead of using a standard mayo-based recipe for your dressing, try a homemade dressing recipe that calls for fat free yogurt instead–another way to increase the amount of calcium in your pasta salad.

As you rise to meet the challenge of embracing a diet that supports blood pressure management (and, in turn, long-term brain health), it can help to consult a nutritional counselor like a chiropractor. With the help of a professional, you can easily make meaningful dietary swaps that empower you to lower your blood pressure while still enjoying your favorite summer comfort foods.

Atlanta Chiropractic and Wellness is committed to supporting all aspects of your health with all-natural products and services, including massage, chiropractic care, and nutritional supplements. Contact us today for more information!

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