Last Time on Natural Blood Pressure Solutions …
In PART 1 of my post High Blood Pressure – managing Hypertension without drugs, I looked at the importance of ensuring that a actual diagnosis of High Blood Pressure is accurate by eliminating such factors as White Coat Syndrome and false blood pressure readings caused by improper BP measuring technique!
And I introduced the concept of DEW when looking for more natural ways to manage your blood pressure.
So today I will elaborate more on this concept of DEW:
The adage of “you are what you eat” has never been more relevant, since there are limitless food choices out there these days. Unfortunately, the advent of fast foods, convenience foods and drinks and processed foods at our grocery stores has also heralded in an huge increase in health issues over the last 30 – 40 years.
Whilst at the same time the proliferation in technology to help us with everyday tasks at work (computer, tablets and smart phone) and at home (microwave oven and large screen TVs with voice controlled remotes for our leisure-time enjoyment) has led to a more sedentary lifestyle than our grandparents ever had. And this combination of nutritionally depleted food and lack of activity has created a perfect storm for the onset of a whole host of health problems..
Just look at the shocking increase in people dealing with type-II Diabetes compared with 40 years ago – and the number of younger people who are struggling with obesity these days!
So Diet, in my opinion, is the foremost area in which changes can be made which can definitely effect our health, including helping to control high blood pressure naturally.
Recommended Diets for Hypertension Management:
- DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension)
- Mediterranean Diet
1. DASH Diet
This dietary approach was developed expressly to help people who had been diagnosed with hypertension or pre-hypertension as a result of the DASH extensive study conducted from 1993-1997. Ultimately, the results showed that the adoption of the DASH diet meal plan with a low sodium intake produced the best results and reduced both systolic and diastolic BP measurements the best.
The DASH diet is “rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy foods; includes (lean) meat, fish, poultry, nuts, and beans; and is limited in sugar-sweetened foods and beverages, red meat, and added (unhealthy) fats”. (source: WIkipedia) .
The average American processed food diet is very deficient when it comes to these 3 minerals, especially Magnesium. It is of course very high in refined salt and sugar, both of which have been shown to have an adverse effect on blood pressure.
In one of my previous articles I took an in-depth look at the benefits of the DASH Diet. Click HERE to read more…
Oh, and one more advantage of the DASH diet. People who follow this diet often find that they are able to lose weight, which is a great bonus, since Weight Loss is also an important part of managing high blood pressure!
2. MEDITERRANEAN Diet
This diet has been used in the Mediterranean areas of Europe by the people of Spain, Italy, southern France and Greece for centuries and has aroused much interest amongst researchers in recent years. Basically, it is a diet based on a high consumption of Olive Oil, legumes, fresh fruits and vegetables and unrefined cereals. Additionally, fresh fish features prominently in the diet, as too dairy products such as cheese and yogurts. There is a small but limited use of non-fish products and moderate consumption of alcohol, most of which is in the form of wine.
Scientists believe, and studies have shown, that the use of Olive Oil is one of the main reasons why this diet is so healthy for both the cardiovascular system and for controlling hypertension. The main ingredient in Olive Oil is oleic acid which has an effect on cell membranes by promoting stimuli which signal vessels to dilate, thereby reducing blood pressure. The high concentration of polyphenols (anti-oxidants) in Olive Oil has also been shown to help prevent oxidized LDL cholesterol which also can lead to high blood pressure.
In addition the mediterranean diet meal plan promotes the consumption of large amounts of fresh vegetables and fruits, nuts and legumes all of which supply the essential micro-nutrients the body needs to help regulate blood pressure and keep the cardio-vascular system healthy.
Note: not all Olive Oils are made alike, so it is important to find a good brand of pure cold-pressed Virgin Olive Oil, if you are going to add this to your daily diet.
3. PALEO Diet
There is one other diet which deserves an honourable mention in this post, because it has also had some success in dealing with high blood pressure issues.
Paleo Diet -The whole concept of the diet rests on the idea that this diet mimics the consumption of foods which were largely available to our ancestors who lived in the Palaeolithic period some 12,000 year ago. This automatically removes processed and highly refined foods and many grains which have been developed since the prehistoric times. In addition, it eliminates modern day processed fats and refined carbohydrates.
The effectiveness of this diet in helping to promote good health is controversial, and further studies are required to see how effective this diet is in terms of its ability to make a difference to people’s overall health.
But it has to be said that it is certainly healthier than a traditional Western diet in that it “typically includes vegetables, fruits, nuts, roots, and meat while excluding foods such as dairy products, grains, sugar, legumes, processed oils, salt, alcohol or coffee.” (Wikipedia)
Despite the criticisms of the Paleo diet, it has gained traction in recent years. The avoidance of processed foods, refined fats and carbohydrates combined with the emphasis on fresh, organic fruits and vegetables does in fact offer nutritional benefits similar to those found in the Mediterranean diet.
And for this reason some people have seen success in terms of being able to lower their blood pressure readings by using the paleo diet for blood pressure.
This is the second most important factor in developing a plan to help reduce blood pressure. Our bodies were built to move and be active and this very lack of regular activity, which seems to be so common for so many people these days, is undoubtedly a causal factor of high blood pressure and the other health issues which hypertension can lead to.
What’s more – the beauty of this strategy for helping lower BP is that it’s totally free!!
Moreover, research shows that even a small amount of activity each and every day can start to make a difference. And it is generally acknowledged by medical professionals that movement and activity are the key components here.
This does not mean that you have to dash out to the Gym or local Fitness Centre and pay for a Personal Trainer to guide you through a complex 2 hour routine of weight-training and aerobic exercises three or four times a week.
Not at all… the variety of potential activities which we encounter in our daily lives will help to get the job done. It’s all about moving and keeping on the go.
The Mayo Clinic recommends for example any of the following activities to help strengthen your cardiovascular system:
- Household chores, like mowing the lawn, raking leaves, gardening or vacuuming
- Active sports, such as soccer or tennis
- Stair climbing
- Walking – (a dog can really help here!!)
Again the KEY POINT here is to make it a part of your daily routines so that every day you have activities built in. You don’t have to make major lifestyle changes to accommodate this, and you can be quite creative about it.
For example, I never use the elevator to go upstairs in my condo complex or when going to appointments in office towers. I always choose the stairs. And I like to park my car at the far end of the parking lot when visiting the mall so I can get in some walking time going to and from the mall entrance.
Any amount of physical activity can help reduce your blood pressure, and the health benefits of exercise on your cardiovascular system are substantial and most definitely worthwhile!
A further serious risk factor for developing high blood pressure is obesity. And without doubt there is a growing issue with obesity in many parts of the developed world today, and especially alarming is the rise in childhood obesity.
The link between obesity and hypertension has also been well studied. For example, the Framingham Heart Study – a three generational study (spanning over 60 years since 1948) of the causes of high blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases – revealed that a 5% weight gain increases the risk of developing high blood pressure by 30% over a 4-year time period.
Fortunately the adverse effect on blood pressure brought about by weight gain can be undone!!
Many studies have looked at the other side of the coin – namely how weight loss influences blood pressure. According to an article in the Journal of Hypertension, May 2008:
“weight loss is clearly associated with a decrease in blood pressure, as well as numerous other improvements in biomedical status.”
The article then goes on to explain;
“Its accomplishment is done successfully as the major component of a spectrum of appropriate lifestyle modifications.”
In other words lifestyle changes play an important role in helping to achieve the goals of weight loss…
And this brings us full circle because weight loss can be achieved successfully through an approach which incorporates a healthy DIET with regular EXERCISE!!
(Admittedly there are several other lifestyle factors, such as stress management, achieving balance and finding meaningful pursuits in one’s life which also play a role).
However, I firmly believe that anyone who seriously seeks to manage his/her blood pressure naturally needs to start by considering the DEW concept first. For many people the root of their blood pressure issues can be found there, in my opinion. By making those lifestyle changes, not only will they be able to get a handle on their blood pressure levels – their overall health will also improve!
Any feedback or comments on today’s post?
Please feel free to add them below and help keep the discussion going… Thanks! 🙂