What Is A Low Blood Pressure Diet?

Most people are familiar with a high blood pressure diet, but what is a low blood pressure diet?

A high blood pressure diet, usually more common, focuses on lowering your blood pressure, reducing the risk of complications, and promoting your overall health and general well-being. 

This may involve intentionally eliminating certain things from the diet, such as too much salt or foods high in saturated fats, while intentionally incorporating more healthy foods, including fruits and vegetables.

However, if you have low blood pressure, there are also different dietary changes you can make to help raise your blood pressure!

This article takes you through what a low blood pressure diet is, why someone would need it, and the foods to eat.

See also Does Beet Juice Lower Blood Pressure and Does Turmeric Lower Blood Pressure!

What Is Low Blood Pressure?

Also known as hypotension, low blood pressure is when blood flows through your blood vessels at a lower pressure than what’s considered normal. It’s often determined by a blood pressure reading of 90/60 mmHg or less.

Hypotension can occur as a symptom of different conditions or as a condition of its own. Like high blood pressure, low blood pressure may not always show symptoms, but when it does, one may need to seek medical attention immediately.

Low Blood Pressure Symptoms

Common symptoms of low blood pressure may include:

  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Blurred or distorted vision
  • Fainting or passing out
  • Confusion or trouble concentrating
  • Fast and shallow breathing
  • Feeling tired, lethargic, or sluggish
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Agitation or unusual change in behavior

Checking blood pressure of patient

What Causes Low Blood Pressure?

The easiest way to fix low blood pressure is to understand the cause. This will help you and your medical provider decide what measures are best to take for your health.

1. Pregnancy

Women often experience low blood pressure during pregnancy, especially in the first 24 weeks. This is often due to fluctuating hormones and changes in circulation that occur during this time.

However, their pressure will often go back to normal after delivery. So it should not be a call for concern unless there’re other factors leading to dangerously low blood pressure levels like excessive bleeding after delivery.

2. Dehydration

Dehydration is the absence of a sufficient amount of water in the body. It often occurs due to inadequate fluid intake or losing too much fluid than you take in.

Your blood consists of two parts: the liquid part, also known as plasma, and the solid part consisting of things like the blood cells.

The plasma is 90% water, which means if you’re severely dehydrated, this amount will drop, and so will your total blood volume, leading to low blood pressure.

Common causes of dehydration may include severe diarrhea, vomiting, fever, strenuous activity leading to excessive sweating, and excessive use of diuretics.

woman drinking water in park during exercise

3. Severe infections

A severe infection, medically known as septicemia, can also increase your risk of low blood pressure. This occurs when bacteria leave the original site of infection and go into the bloodstream.

The bacteria then release toxins that can affect blood vessel function, leading to a life-threatening decline in blood pressure. This often leads to septic shock and even death.

4. Blood loss

This is the most obvious cause of low blood pressure. It occurs due to an injury that causes you to bleed and lose a lot of blood, causing your blood volume to drop.

A drop in blood volume is accompanied by a drop in blood pressure. This can happen even if someone is bleeding internally.

5. Orthostatic hypotension

Orthostatic hypotension, also called postural hypotension, is a condition in which your blood pressure drops when you stand up from sitting or lying down. 

This can cause you to feel dizzy or lightheaded, and you may even faint.

It’s more common in older adults but can happen at any age. Orthostatic hypotension is often caused by medications, standing up too quickly, dehydration, or a problem with the autonomic nervous system. 

Sometimes, it may indicate an underlying health condition, such as heart disease.

All these factors can impair the body’s mechanism to stabilize blood pressure when standing, causing your blood pressure to drop upon standing.

6. Postprandial hypotension

Postprandial hypotension is a condition in which blood pressure falls after eating. 

The reason behind it is that, as the food is being digested, your intestines require increased blood flow to support the process.

In normal cases, your heart rate would increase, followed by a constriction of arteries supplying blood to other parts of the body other than the intestines. This acts as a compensatory mechanism to keep your blood pressure high and prevent hypotension.

However, in certain conditions, your heart rate may not increase, and the blood vessels may not constrict. As a result, the increased blood flow to the intestines during digestion will affect the whole body causing blood pressure to drop.

This condition is more common in older adults, especially those with high blood pressure or heart disease. 

Treatment may involve lifestyle changes, such as eating smaller meals and avoiding triggers (such as alcohol), and an adjustment to your blood pressure medications.

If your blood pressure drops after eating, talk to your doctor to help you establish a management plan.

7. Hormonal imbalances

Hormones play a vital role in regulating many body functions, including blood pressure. When hormone levels are out of balance, it can lead to high or low blood pressure. 

Addison’s disease is a common hormonal-related condition that can cause low blood pressure.

It’s a rare condition caused by an adrenal gland disorder that leads to decreased production of hormones such as cortisol and aldosterone, resulting in low blood pressure.

In most cases, treating the underlying hormone disorder will correct the low blood pressure problem. However, in some cases, additional treatment may be necessary to keep blood pressure normal.

8. Severe allergic reaction

When you have a severe allergic reaction, your body releases chemicals that can cause your blood pressure to drop. This can make you feel lightheaded and dizzy. In some cases, it can lead to shock, which is a medical emergency.

If you have a history of allergies, be sure to carry an epinephrine injector with you in case of an emergency.

What Is A Low Blood Pressure Diet?

A low blood pressure diet is a kind of diet that focuses on certain foods and ingredients that can help increase your blood pressure levels.

In most cases, it may be the opposite of what you’ll expect from a diet meant to lower blood pressure.

1. Drink plenty of fluids

When you have low blood pressure, drinking fluids can help improve your blood pressure by increasing your blood volume. 

When your blood volume is increased, your heart doesn’t have to work as hard to pump blood throughout your body. 

Drinking fluids also helps prevent dehydration, which can cause your blood pressure to drop.

In one study, increasing water intake by an additional 30 ml/kg body weight per day for two weeks increased daytime blood pressure from 89.0 ± 5.5 mmHg during regular intakes to 91.4 ± 6.4 mmHg.

There are many different types of fluids that you can drink to improve low blood pressure. Water is the best fluid for this purpose, but you can also drink fruit juices, sports drinks, and even soups or broths. Just make sure that you avoid caffeine and alcohol, as these can actually make your blood pressure worse.

2. Eat salty foods

Too much salt can raise your blood pressure which is why you need to limit your intake, especially if you have high blood pressure. However, in hypotension, a little bit more salt can help.

This is because salt retains more water and even draws it from the surrounding tissues. This increases the blood volume while constricting the blood vessels, thus putting pressure on the heart to work harder and pump more blood to the rest of the body, causing your blood pressure to rise.

While eating salty foods is not a long-term solution for low blood pressure, it can help improve the symptoms in the short term and make you feel better overall. 

While people with high blood pressure should not consume more than 2 grams of salt per day, you may need to take about 6 grams daily to bring your blood pressure up.

Just ensure you don’t get it from unhealthy sources such as processed foods. Instead, sprinkle a little more sea salt on your regular healthy meals and you’re good to go. You can also eat foods like olives and pickled vegetables, as they are often high in sodium.

coarse sea salt in star shaped blue bowl with sea and boat themed decor on whitewashed wood background

3. Boost your B12 intake

Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that is part of the B-complex group of vitamins. 

It is also known as cobalamin because it contains the mineral cobalt. 

Vitamin B12 plays an important role in the metabolism of every cell in the body, including the synthesis of DNA and red blood cells.

A deficiency in vitamin B12 can result n a type of anemia known as megaloblastic anemia, which has been shown to cause low blood pressure. So, by increasing your B12, you can easily prevent this type of anemia and increase your blood pressure levels.

If you are on a plant-based diet, the best way to obtain your vitamin B12 is through a good-quality vegan supplement—foods like mushrooms, nutritional yeast, some algae, and fortified foods can also boost your intake.

4. Reduce your portion sizes

Too much food intake causes a surge of blood towards your digestive system to boost the increased demand for energy to digest larger meals, which can cause reduced blood pressure. By consuming smaller portions, your blood pressure will be well regulated.

Additional Tips to Manage Low Blood Pressure:

There are also some lifestyle changes you can make to improve your low blood pressure.

1. Avoid alcohol

Alcohol is a diuretic that causes the body to lose fluids through too much urination. This can lead to dehydration, which can, in turn, lead to low blood pressure. 

When you’re already dealing with low blood pressure, avoiding anything that could further lower your blood pressure is important.

2. Limit activities that can cause your body to overheat

When managing low blood pressure, it is important to avoid spending long amounts of time in saunas, hot tubs, and steam rooms. 

These activities can cause dehydration, which can lead to further complications. If you must participate in them, be sure to drink plenty of fluids beforehand and take breaks often to avoid becoming overheated.

Also, ensure proper hydration after your sessions.

3. Avoid prolonged bed rest

If you have low blood pressure, you should avoid prolonged bed rest, as this can cause your blood pressure to drop even lower.

If you must stay in bed for an extended period of time, be sure to get up and move around once in a while to keep your blood pressure from dropping too low.

4. Wear compression stockings

If you have low blood pressure, your doctor may recommend that you wear compression stockings.

Compression stockings are a great way to help manage low blood pressure, as they compress the legs and feet, which exerts pressure and encourages blood flow back up the body towards the heart. This can help to reduce feelings of fatigue and heaviness in the legs, as well as improve circulation overall.

One study found that compression stockings could be an effective non-pharmacological therapeutic option for older patients with orthostatic hypotension. However, a lack of compliance was greatly observed. So if you’re planning on using this method, consistency is vital.

Nonetheless, compression stockings can not treat an underlying condition and should not be used in place of any prescribed medications.

There are a few things to remember when choosing compression stockings: make sure to get the right size so they’re not too tight or too loose, and choose a design that is comfortable for you to wear.

5. Stand up slowly

When you stand up quickly, your blood pressure decreases, and doing it slowly can prevent this from happening.

First, sit at the edge of your bed with your feet on the floor for a few minutes before standing. Then, stand up slowly and hold onto something stable if you need to. When you’re ready, walk normally.

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Final Thoughts

Low blood pressure occurs when blood pressure falls to 90/60mmHg or even lower. This can occur due to various issues, including blood loss, dehydration, severe infections, pregnancy, and hormonal changes.
The ultimate management of low blood pressure is to address whatever is causing it.

However, certain practices can boost your efforts and help increase your blood pressure faster. This may include adding more salt to your food, drinking more water, getting enough vitamin B12, and reducing the portion sizes of food eaten at a time.

Limiting your exposure to too much heat, avoiding alcohol, and not sleeping for too long can also help.

If you have low blood pressure, try putting the things mentioned above into practice and see your blood pressure normalize. Just keep a record so you can understand how your body behaves with each one of them.

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