One of the most dangerous aspects of high blood pressure is that there are no warning signs. The only way to know if you have high blood pressure is through a blood pressure reading. Over time, unchecked blood pressure levels can damage certain parts of the cardiovascular system and other organs, including the kidneys, brain, eyes, and more.
There are lifestyle changes you can make to help naturally lower blood pressure levels, though. Healthy eating and regular exercise go a long way, but you already know that. There are other, smaller changes you can make to your morning routine that may benefit your blood pressure. Did you know that cardiac events, such as heart attack or stroke, are more likely to happen in the morning because of elevated morning blood pressure? That’s why tweaking your morning habits may be the best way to start lowering blood pressure levels.
In this article, we’ll discuss a few morning habits that can be beneficial if you have a hypertension diagnosis, or if you want to maintain a healthy heart.
Eat A Balanced Breakfast
This tip seems simple enough, but so many people either eat an unhealthy breakfast or skip it altogether. A 2022 meta-analysis suggests that adults who skip breakfast have a higher risk of hypertension. When you eat matters, but what you eat matters more. A bacon, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwich is much different than a green smoothie or bowl of plain Greek yogurt with fresh fruit and nuts. Fruits and nuts, for example, are typical fixtures in the DASH and Mediterranean diets, which have been shown to benefit heart health. Kiwis, bananas, oranges, spinach, hazelnuts, almonds, and walnuts all have blood pressure-lowering capabilities.
Are you going to drop into a set of burpees immediately after rolling out of bed? Most likely, no, but a morning workout can support healthy blood pressure overall. A strenuous, high-intensity interval (HIIT) workout can temporarily raise blood pressure readings, but that’s completely normal. Experts recommend two and a half hours of moderately-intense aerobic activity per and/or 90 to 150 minutes of strength training per week.
With work responsibilities and the ensuing commute to the office, it’s easy for stress to get the better of you in the morning. Getting your body to relax at the start of the day can have a positive effect on blood pressure levels. Harvard Health Publishing suggests that you can achieve this morning state of calm via meditation. Several studies show that a mindfulness-based practice, such as meditation, can help reduce systolic and diastolic blood pressure in people with mild hypertension. The body is prompted to promote more nitric oxide during a meditation session. This helps to widen blood vessels and ultimately lower blood pressure.
Limit Caffeine Intake
Sorry to say, but a morning cup of coffee can lead to unhealthy blood pressure levels, especially if you drink several cups. Caffeine, as you know, is a stimulant, which is why you probably drink it. While it may put a little pep in your step, it can also spike blood pressure. Researchers don’t fully understand the exact reason this happens, but some experts attribute it to the fact that caffeine may block a hormone that widens arteries. Two to four cups of coffee, which amounts to 200-300 milligrams of caffeine, typically elevates blood pressure by about 8mmHg systolic (the top number) and 6mmHg diastolic (the bottom number). Fortunately, this spike doesn’t last for too long, wearing off in a matter of hours. Just be mindful of coffee consumption if you deal with high blood pressure.
Your favorite breakfast items, from donuts to scones to cereal, contain a lot of added sugars. Too much sugar can negatively affect blood pressure. Health experts note that eating sugar, especially high fructose corn syrup, can affect hormonal pathways in the body. The hormone pathways it affects are peptide endothelin and aldosterone, both of which regulate blood pressure. High blood sugar levels also increase the risk of atherosclerosis (plaque buildup in arteries), which can lead to stiff arteries and high blood pressure. Prevent this from happening by skipping foods or beverages that contain added sugars. Any food that has a 20% or higher daily value (DV) of sugar is a high-sugar food.