Can alcohol affect your blood pressure?
High blood pressure can be a result of many different things that can elevate your blood pressure readings throughout the day and then come back to normal again, such as doing physical activity or keeping it elevated for longer periods, becoming an issue, such as drinking alcohol.
Alcohol can raise your blood pressure if you exceed certain limits. For example, “Having more than three drinks in one sitting temporarily raises your blood pressure, but repeated binge drinking can lead to long-term increases”, as Mayo Clinic states.
Cutting back on alcohol can help lower your blood pressure and keep it controlled, depending on certain factors and definitions of excessive drinking. To begin, there are three types of excessive drinking: binge drinking, moderate drinking, and heavy drinking.
Binge drinking is defined as having four or more drinks in a span of two hours, in the case of women, and five or more drinks (in the same timespan) for men. Moderate drinking, on the other hand, is up to one drink a day for women and two for men. Finally, heavy drinking involves more than three drinks a day for women and four for men.
Managing High Blood Pressure
Research conducted by Mayo Clinic concluded that “heavy drinkers who cut back to moderate drinking can lower their top number in a blood pressure reading (systolic pressure) by about 5.5 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) and their bottom number (diastolic pressure) by about 4 mm Hg.”
Alcohol not only contributes to elevating your blood pressure but to gaining weight too, which results in higher blood pressure readings as well. Further, alcohol can interact with blood pressure medications and disable their effect, increasing the side effects while lowering the level of said medication in your body.
A study published in 2006 about the relationship between alcohol and blood pressure concluded that “the increase in blood pressure is approximately 1 mm Hg for each 10g of alcohol consumed and is largely reversible within 2–4 weeks of abstinence or a substantial reduction in alcohol intake”.
Keeping Blood Pressure Under Control
There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a glass of wine or going out for a drink once in a while, but daily consumption of more than the recommended amount of alcohol can contribute to elevating your blood pressure, increase your weight and result in higher chances of developing other medical conditions linked to this.
The American Heart Association, as well as other official organizations around the world, recommend that “if you drink, limit your alcohol consumption to no more than two drinks per day for men and no more than one drink per day for women”.
Regularly consuming alcohol elevates your blood pressure. Depending on the number of drinks in a specific time span, the consequences can be more severe and harmful to your health.
It is recommended that you stay within the recommended ingest of alcohol per day, but if you have high blood pressure it is best to quit it completely. Consult your doctor about possible treatment plans if you can’t quit alcohol on your own.
Can you improve blood pressure by paying attention to your diet?
Certain foods can elevate your blood pressure while others contribute to keeping it in line. Although experts are not sure about the main cause of blood pressure, they are aware of the consequences of what not engaging in a healthy diet can do to your body.
Blood pressure tends to fluctuate during the day, and can be affected by a few factors such as the amount of stress you experience, the type of activities you do, and the food you consume. When your blood pressure readings indicate that your blood pressure is above normal range constantly, this might indicate an underlying issue.
Certain foods can increase or lower your blood pressure and this is also linked to gaining or losing weight, another factor that can mess with your blood pressure (1).
Fried foods, canned soups, salted snacks as well as fast food, and butter-based foods are some examples of what can increase your blood pressure if consumed daily. On the other hand, lean meat, fruits, vegetables, and low-sodium foods are great options to include in your diet to keep your blood pressure controlled.
What you should keep an eye out for in the food you consume is the amount of salt you add to your meals (or what they already have). Cleveland Clinic experts state that “when you eat too much salt, which contains sodium, your body holds extra water to ‘wash’ the salt from your body. In some people, this may cause blood pressure to rise. The added water puts stress on your heart and blood vessels.”
Foods That Can Help Reduce Blood Pressure
You can keep your blood pressure under control by changing the way you eat. After consulting a doctor to evaluate your specific situation, they may recommend switching to a more healthy and green-based diet.
To begin, increasing the number of fruits you consume per day is highly advisable to acquire the vitamins, minerals, and fibers your body needs to function properly. Vegetables are another addition you should have in each meal you cook, taking as a reference to fill half or almost half of your plate with them.
Moving on to the main sources of energy and protein, experts recommend focusing on fish and low-fatty meats. Mayo Clinic published an article about the DASH diet, short for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, in which they recommend “choose foods that are rich in potassium, calcium, magnesium, fiber, and protein; low in saturated fat and low in sodium”.
This diet is not meant to be taken as a restriction but as an intake recommendation. Vegetables, fruits, and whole grains are the main components of the DASH diet that can contribute to keeping your blood pressure stable and your body healthy. You should consult with your doctor about which foods to eat and which to avoid if you’re taking any medication.
Diet Recommendations For High Blood Pressure
Apart from changing the food you consume, it is important to reduce the amount of alcohol you drink, since this can also raise your blood pressure to unhealthy levels. Dr. Francisco López Giménez from Mayo Clinic stated that “having more than three drinks in one sitting temporarily raises your blood pressure, but repeated binge drinking can lead to long-term increases.”
Further, not adding salt to your food is another diet recommendation doctors tell their patients. Most people have the bad habit of automatically adding salt to their plate before even trying it, which can cause your blood pressure to rise due to the excess sodium your body is receiving. This recommendation is also linked to processed foods you might purchase frequently, which tend to have elevated levels of salt as well. Buying lean-based meats that have loads of protein is advisable.
Engaging in a healthy diet is beneficial to your health and can help reduce your blood pressure. Certain foods such as those with high quantities of oil or salt are major contributors to having high blood pressure, and can also develop heart-related issues.
Doing physical activity a few times a week, whether it is going for a walk, running, riding your bike, or going to the gym, among others, is another recommendation to have in mind to keep your body moving.