The programme’s vegan diet consisted of foods, such as legumes, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, olives, avocados, soy milk, almond milk and whole-grain breads.

The next time you need to lower blood pressure quickly, you don’t need to solely depend on medicines for it. A new study by Andrews University shows that adapting lifestyle habits can also help you do so.

The study demonstrated that a programme aimed at helping people modify lifestyle factors, such as diet and exercise, was as effective as medication at reducing blood pressure. 117 participants in the study saw their blood pressure drop 19 points, on average, after taking part in the Weimer Institute Newstart Lifestyle programme for just 14 days.

Other studies have shown that a blood pressure reduction of this magnitude can cut a person’s risk of heart disease or stroke in half. “By adapting certain lifestyle health principles, half of the people in our study achieved normal blood pressure within two weeks, while avoiding the side effects and costs associated with blood pressure medications,” said research team leader M Alfredo Mejia.

“The Newstart Lifestyle programme works quickly, is inexpensive and uses a palatable diet that allows for moderate amounts of salt and healthy fats from nuts, olives, avocado and certain vegetable oils,” added Mejia.

Participants walked outside daily as part of the programme. (Shutterstock)

The reduction in blood pressure accomplished by the programme was equivalent to what can be achieved using three half-dose standard medications for blood pressure. In addition, 93% of participants were able to either reduce the dose (24%) or eliminate their blood pressure medications (69%).

People participating in the programme followed a vegan diet, walked outside daily, drank substantial quantities of water, got adequate daily sleep, and participated in optional spiritual activities. The programme’s vegan diet consisted of foods, such as legumes, whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, olives, avocados, soy milk, almond milk and whole-grain breads.

Next, the researchers plan to test the programme in more people over a longer period to better understand its long-term effects and biological basis. They also want to determine if the programme can be used to improve other health problems, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity. This study was presented at the American Society for Nutrition annual meeting, Nutrition 2018.

Kefir promotes communication between the gut and the brain. (Shutterstock)

Here are some of the other things you can do to lower blood pressure:

* A study done on rats at Auburn University in Alabama, USA, shows that kefir can have a positive effect on blood pressure by promoting communication between the gut and brain. Previous research has shown that an imbalance in the gut’s colony of bacteria (microbiota) may cause high blood pressure in some people. Similarly, probiotics — live bacteria supplements that are beneficial to the digestive system — have also been found to lower blood pressure, but the mechanisms by which this occurs are unclear.

* Bananas can help you control blood pressure effectively. They are loaded with vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, folate, phosphorus and potassium. One banana can provide us with around 400 mg of potassium, and the potassium content gives it the ability to control high blood pressure.

* Exercising regularly can help you lower blood pressure by 4 to 9 millimetres of mercury (mm Hg). You can try jogging, walking, cycling, or swimming for 30-45 minutes per day, 5-6 day a week to stay fit. Be consistent, though, because if you stop exercising, your blood pressure can rise again.