UNITED STATES—Hypertension runs on both sides of my family. I remember my mother telling me at a very young age to avoid salt and work-out regularly but, I of course didn’t listen. I figured since I was young and wasn’t experiencing anything negative regarding my health, I was fine and invincible.

I remember being about 12 and I went to add a helping of garlic salt to my spaghetti that was drowning in butter. My mom who suffered an aneurism at 40, walked up to me and just about hit me in the face and started lecturing me on my health. I thought to myself ‘but I’m so young though. I shouldn’t start worrying about that stuff now.’

Now, I’m 30 years old and I have been diagnosed with pre-hypertension with my average readings showing 137/90 to 160/88. It’s scary because I’ve had a few heart related health issues throughout my 20’s but I ignored it and just assumed it was anxiety. I don’t want a stroke and I don’t want to die prematurely. So I’m working out regularly and eating healthily.

I’m on medication now but I don’t want to be on this stuff for the rest of my life. The medical industry is quick to prescribe medication and many of the pills given to those with hypertension have negative side-effects.

Fortunately, there are ways to cure hypertension naturally. My Uncle on my dad’s side can attest to that and he’s in his 50’s.

Here are a few tips on managing hypertension naturally and they have been approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Eat a Healthy Diet

You can try the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet. This diet plan has been proven to help people lower their blood pressure. The plan requires no special foods and instead provides daily and weekly nutritional goals. DASH recommends eating whole grains, fat-free or low-fat dairy products, fish, poultry, beans, nuts and vegetable oils and of course limiting sugar-sweetened beverages and sweets.

Watch your Sodium Intake

According to the American Heart Association if you have high blood pressure you should not have any more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day. An ideal limit is no more than 1,500 mg per day for most adults. On average Americans eat more that 3,400 milligrams of sodium each day.

Be sure to check labels to help you determine how much sodium you are taking in a day. Oftentimes foods include sodium-containing ingredients like sodium citrate, monosodium glutamate (MSG) or sodium benzoate.

It is helpful to look for labels that read sodium-free, very low sodium, low sodium, reduced sodium or light in sodium. Even a slight reduction of sodium intake can reduce high blood pressure.

Eat meals and snacks that are low in sodium like fresh fruits and vegetables. Foods that are also high in certain minerals like potassium, fiber, and protein diminish the salt and saturated fat that could be lingering in your body.

Get Active

Not only can physical activity keep you at a healthy weight, but it is great for maintaining a healthy blood pressure. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends that adults should get at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise like brisk walking or bicycling (my personal fav) a week. That’s about 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week.

After my most recent diagnosis, I probably visit my peloton bike more often than I do my friends. I’ll be honest.

Avoid Alcohol as much as Possible & Don’t Smoke

This one is pretty obvious. Alcohol can raise blood pressure to unhealthy levels. Having more than 3 drinks in one sitting temporarily raises blood pressure and repeated binge drinking can lead to long-term increases in blood pressure.

If you are a heavy drinker, you can cut back to moderate consumption which can lower your systolic pressure by about 5.5. millimeters and your diastolic pressure by about 4 mm Hg.

Hypertension is very common and about half of all Americans suffer from it. Fortunately it can be managed if you maintain a healthy lifestyle. It takes discipline but if you overcome something like this you’ll feel better overall and will have a boost in self-esteem.