By Doc Willie Ong (Internist and Cardiologist)
Your choices play an important role to controlling these chronic diseases. Let us look at 7 lifestyle changes that can help you stay healthier:
1. Lose weight if you are overweight.
As your weight increases, your blood pressure will also increase. Studies show that if you reduce excess weight by 10 pounds, you will be able to reduce your blood pressure by 5 to 10 points. Your cholesterol and blood sugar numbers will also improve once you lose some weight.
2. Stop drinking sweet beverages and just drink water.
Belly fat and weight gain can be attributed to sugary drinks and sugary foods. If you cut on soda, canned juices and iced tea, then you may see your diabetes numbers and blood pressure numbers improve dramatically.
3. Load up on vegetables.
Vegetables are excellent weight loss foods. Since they are low in calories and high in fiber, vegetables keep you full, without increasing your weight. Eat a cup of vegetables or salad per meal. Just skip the fatty dressings and just use vinegar-based dressings.
4. Try the DASH diet.
DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. It’s a scientifically proven diet that reduced blood pressure by 11 points if you have high blood pressure. The diet consists of whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products. It discourages the intake of meat, fats and oily foods.
4. Strictly reduce sodium and salt intake.
If you really want to lower your blood pressure, then cutting down on your sodium intake is a proven method. It can reduce your blood pressure by 6 points. Follow these tips. Read the nutritional labels on food packages. Choose low-sodium alternatives of the foods you buy. Eat fewer processed foods. Minimize the use of salt and soy sauce. Try using herbs and spices to add flavor to your food. Slowly ease into these foods so your taste buds can adjust.
5. Walk and exercise regularly.
Regular exercise for one hour most days of the week can lower your blood pressure by 5 points. Your cholesterol, triglyceride and blood sugar level will also improve as you burn more fat. Get into an exercise routine gradually. Doing household chores can be a good alternative for some people.
6. Stop smoking and drinking alcohol.
I know this may sound harsh but there’s no easy way around it. If you have chronic health conditions, you should quit smoking and drinking alcoholic drinks. There are some who will argue for the benefits of moderate drinking. However, alcoholic beverages are notoriously high in calories. And once you consume a bit too much alcohol, then it will increase your blood pressure. Alcohol also reduces the effectivity of your medicines.
7. Reduce your stress.
Chronic stress may contribute to high blood pressure and high blood sugar. Take the time to relax your mind and body. Avoid the need to be always in a hurry. Be thankful for the small blessings in your life.
8. Monitor your blood pressure, sugar and cholesterol levels.
By looking at the changes in your numbers, this will guide you in your lifestyle changes. You will be surprised at how much your numbers will improve once you follow our tips. Visit your doctor regularly too.