High blood pressure. Hypertension. “The silent killer.” It has that nickname because chronic high blood pressure is a reliable risk factor for heart attacks, heart failure, strokes, aneurysms, and kidney failure. (Just a few small things…yikes!)
What Is “Normal” Blood Pressure?
Blood pressure is measured by two numbers: the top number is the systolic pressure (when the heart is pumping blood) and the bottom number is the diastolic pressure (when the heart is at rest). A normal blood pressure number is below 120/80, prehypertension is diagnosed between 120/80 – 139/89, Stage 1 hypertension is between 140/90 – 159/99, and Stage 2 hypertension is blood pressure above 160/100.
While most doctors prescribe drug treatment when a patient has reached the prehypertension stage, there’s no evidence to support pharmaceutical treatment in these patients. This doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be addressed, because even at this stage it is a sure sign of other issues in the body…things aren’t functioning at their peak, and changes need to be made.
By addressing underlying issues with diet and lifestyle changes, you can reduce your blood pressure without resorting to drug treatment. Below we will address dietary changes, lifestyle changes and supplement suggestions that will help lower your blood pressure naturally…because who wants to be stuck on medications for the remainder of their lives?
What Causes High Blood Pressure?
Approximately 10% of HBP’s are due to an overactive thyroid, blood pressure constriction in the kidney, or even overactive adrenals. The other 90% of the time? Lifestyle and diet. Dr. Stephen Sinatra describes it like this:
90 percent of blood pressure situations are caused by what we call ‘an increase in the resistance of blood vessels’ that has to do with oxidative stress, free radicals, and a term that doctors use, ‘endothelial cell unfriendliness.’ And what this means is that the lining of the blood vessels, if they become inflamed, these blood vessels can constrict or, if we cannot sequester a lot of the free radicals in the body, and if we can’t really douse out the fires of inflammation in our blood vessels, the pressure can go up.
So, in plain English, non-doctor-like words? Your diet and lifestyle are the biggest factors in high blood pressure. But this is good news! Because this means you have the power to reverse this thing before it’s too far gone.
Steps You Can Take To Reduce High Blood Pressure Naturally
- Eliminate Trans & Hydrogenated Fats: Thanks to the low-fat recommendations, based on no science, hydrogenated vegetable shortening, followed by margarines and countless processed foods, increased Americans’ intake of “trans” fats dramatically, increasing the risk of heart attack, cancer, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Just check your labels, if it lists hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils, don’t buy it. Instead, buy foods with no labels! Like carrots and tomatoes.
- Avoid Cooking With Oils High In Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids: Oils like canola (rapeseed), corn, soybean, safflower, sunflower, cottonseed and peanut are all high in PUFA’s (polyunsaturated fatty acids). When heated, these oils become oxidated, leading to changes in the body which cause high blood pressure and heart disease via the inflammatory response. My recommendations for cooking are always coconut oil, palm oil, and animal fats like organic lard or grass-fed beef tallow.
- Eliminate Wheat, Refined Sugars & Excessive Carb Intake: Wheat (bread, pasta, corn products, oats…in fact most grains), gluten containing products (gluten is found in strange places like deli meat), processed sugar & sugary foods/drinks (juices, candies, cookies, ice cream, etc.) all create an inflammatory effect on the body – not to mention weight gain. Again, chronic inflammation leads to heart disease, high blood pressure, and even cancer. Total elimination would be ideal, but at the very least, only include these things as a rare treat (if your body can handle them). With only a small learning curve (unless you’re cooking-challenged, lol), almond flour and coconut flour are terrific alternatives to wheat & grain products. To better understand the effects of wheat and refined carbs on your health, I highly recommend you read/listen to the book “Wheat Belly” by William Davis.
- Include Foods Daily That Could Reduce Blood Pressure: Along with avoiding things that could increase your blood pressure, you should include things that could improve your blood pressure as well. Some of the foods proven to be helpful include: 1) Beetroot (juiced, roasted, or even beetroot powder to add to smoothies) due to the nitric oxide content. 2) Wild caught fish, particularly salmon, due to the balanced natural fatty acids. 3) Raw nuts such as almonds, brazil nuts and cashews for their magnesium content. 4) Kale (juiced, steamed, baked) because of the magnesium, potassium, and vitamin c mix. 5) Turmeric Root (juiced, as a supplement/spice) for the anti-inflammatory effects. 6) Both Hawthorn and Hibiscus teas have proven heart healthy benefits – even better Traditional Medicinals has a delicious tea with both. 7) Garlic for it’s “ACE-inhibiting” effects.
- Targeted Supplements That Help Lower Blood Pressure: 1) CoQ10: Reduces oxidative stress and free radicals. 2) Vitamin C: Supports nitric oxide leading to more vasodilation, adding to blood pressure support. 3) Magnesium: It supports the endothelial lining of the blood vessels, reducing the impact of vasoconstriction. Magnesium also plays a role in the use of potassium. 4) Potassium: Best addressed through food, potassium is the most supportive mineral for the heart, and helps counter the effects of sodium and guard against hypertension. 5) Hawthorn berry and Garlic: Both are very good for their “ACE-inhibiting” effects. 6) Resveratrol: Helps due to the endothelial-friendly component supporting healthy blood pressure.
- Lifestyle Changes: Stress management is critical! According to Dr. Sinatra, chronic emotional and mental stress is a major cause for high blood pressure. That’s because stress causes a sustained increase in the activity of the sympathetic nervous system—the part of your nervous system associated with the fight-or-flight response. When your sympathetic nervous system is activated, it floods your blood with cortisol and adrenaline, accelerating your heart rate, constricting your blood vessels, and increasing blood pressure. To reduce your blood pressure naturally, one of the best things you can do to lower stress is learn how to manipulate sympathetic nervous system activity with techniques to calm your system, defuse emotional anxiety, and promote optimal physical and mental balance.
I hope this list is helpful. Watch for future articles specifically addressing some of the main components of maintaining a healthy blood pressure such as magnesium and potassium. I wanted to keep it fairly simple here, but there is so much left to discuss, so stay tuned! For more detailed information on blood pressure and heart health check out “The Sinatra Solution: Metabolic Cardiology” by Stephen Sinatra.