Did you know that in Australia, men are twice as likely to have a heart attack or stroke than women? Unlikely to help this statistic, is the fact that 2 in every 3 men in Australia are now overweight or obese. Although men can be hard to get started on a healthkick once they do, they have great focus and can form new habits quickly. Call it a ‘primeval', but in my experience men enjoy following clear-cut guidelines and if they can incorporate some element of competition they will excel. Whether or not genetics are playing a role OR you need medication for blood pressure, you will still benefit from combined lifestyle changes.
Cut excess sodium in the diet: The primary source in most food is sodium chloride, the chemical name for ordinary cooking/table salt. Salt can significantly influence blood pressure and processed foods are high in salt (no surprise there), 75% of salt we eat is hidden in foods that we often think are healthy like bread and breakfast cereals. The recommended intake of salt is 6 grams per day so read your food labels carefully and aim for between 120 – 200mg of sodium PER 100gm.
Healthy weight range: It’s simple, lose the excess weight and you will see a marked decrease in your blood pressure as long as you keep it off. It’s not just about how much you weigh, it’s about where you carry that excess weight – if you carry fat around your middle you are more likely to develop high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.
Watch the alcohol consumption: Regular alcohol intake is associated with high blood pressure. Guidelines for safe drinking are no more than 2 x standard drinks a day and a standard drink = 10gm of pure alcohol (e.g. around 1 x glass of wine or a small bottle of beer). Men often curl their lip in distaste when I suggest a switch to lighter beer, but the truth is that if a regular drinker makes the shift from full-strength to a lower alcohol content they can reduce their blood pressure by about 5mmHg.
Exercise more: It’s not rocket science, you must move more! Exercise helps reduce blood pressure and alleviates stress (another factor for blood pressure). Find something active that you like doing, buy yourself an exercise tracker, it will help you stay motivated and you can compete with yourself daily.