Lowering Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is becoming more and more common and is a huge concern, especially for the elderly. Despite this disease often manifesting in later years, it can be a lifestyle full of stress, poor dietary measures and nutritional deficiencies that may be at the root cause. The concern of high blood pressure is that it’s a major risk factor for a heart attack or stroke.
The degree or severity of high blood pressure is categorized into 3 stages. Borderline high blood pressure (prehypertension) falls in the range of systolic 130-139 and diastolic 85-89 mm/Hg. Stage 1, or mild high blood pressure exists with readings of 140-159/90-99 mm Hg. Moderate high blood pressure (stage 2), 160-179/100-109 mm/Hg, and severe high blood pressure, or stage 3, occurs at 180+/110+ mm/Hg.
Any factor that impacts the degree of blood vessel constriction and fluid volume can be considered a cause. The underlying cause may be due to dietary, lifestyle, psychological, and environmental factors, with genetics playing a minimal role.
Although high blood pressure is associated with many life-threatening risks, it is usually able to be treated through stress management, lifestyle and dietary changes, weight reduction, regular exercise, and the correction of blood sugar and elevated cholesterol in the blood. Simply put, often all that it takes to reduce blood pressure are a few diet and lifestyle adjustments, as well as relaxation therapies.
Diet plays a major role when it comes to high blood pressure, with a variety of components playing a significant role, this includes: excessive calorie consumption, high sodium to potassium ratio, low fibre intake, high sugar diet, high consumption of saturated fat and low consumption of healthy fats, Omega 3 fatty acids. In addition, a diet low in vitamin C, magnesium and calcium, and excessive intake of alcohol and caffeine play a role.
Achieving normal body weight can significantly improve BP. Excess body weight can raise the heart rate and reduce the body’s ability to transport blood through the vessels.
Although it is not necessary to cut all animal products out entirely, there has been a positive correlation found between vegetarians and lower blood pressure. Although the amount of sodium consumed by both vegetarians and non-vegetarians may be the same, vegetarian diets typically contain more potassium, which helps to balance out the ratio. This diet is also higher in complex carbohydrates, healthy fats and oils, fiber, calcium, magnesium and vitamin C. It is lower in saturated fat and ideally lower in refined carbohydrates.
Consuming more fruits and vegetables increases dietary antioxidants, which have the ability to repair damaged and clogged arteries. Consider consuming more of the following foods: celery, garlic and onions, healthy oils from nuts and seeds. Green leafy vegetables are an excellent source of calcium and magnesium which help to relax and tone the blood vessels and arteries. Foods rich in flavonoids include berries, cherries, and grapes. Bananas and avocados are great sources of potassium and should be consumed several times a week. Other foods such as broccoli and citrus fruits are full of vitamin C, a potent antioxidant. Be mindful to not consume grapefruit with certain medications, as it disrupts the liver’s ability to detoxify the medications and potentially make them ineffective (read the label).
Celery contains the compound 3-n-butylphthalide, which has been found to lower blood pressure by 12 to 14%, as well as cholesterol by 7%. Consuming 4 to 6 ribs of celery several times a week can result in tremendous cardiovascular health improvements.
Garlic- Within just one to three months, the consumption of garlic can reduce blood pressure by 11 mm Hg, both systolic and diastolic readings.
Consuming garlic supplements containing 7.8 to 11.7 mg of allicin, or 1.8 to 2.7 grams of fresh garlic daily can produce these benefits. Try eating 1 to 4 cloves of raw garlic every day, either as an addition in a spread like guacamole or hummus or in a salad dressing. To be effective, the garlic must be chopped finely and consumed within 15-20 minutes.
Healthy fats and oils, when consumed in moderation, can have many health benefits, including making the blood more fluid. Consume cold-water fish (salmon, mackerel) and ensure that all fish products are organic and not contaminated by heavy metals, which can potentially further contribute to high BP.
In addition, nuts and seeds have many beneficial oils including hemp seeds, chia seeds, and walnuts. Eating a handful of nuts a day makes a great snack and can help in lowering blood pressure. Alternatively, sprinkle a few nuts or seeds on a salad or blend them up in a smoothie.
CoQ10- A deficiency in CoQ10 has been reported in more than 1/3 of individuals with high blood pressure. In addition, CoQ10 is depleted by many blood pressure and cholesterol-lowering medications like statin drugs. Coenzyme Q10 is an essential component of the mitochondria, is a powerful antioxidant and tends to decrease with age. It has been shown to reduce systolic pressure from 11 - 17 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure by 8 to 10 mm Hg. Many patients who have reported taking CoQ10 have reduced their need for antihypertensive medication within just 4 to 5 months. Consider taking 100mg twice daily as a therapeutic dose.
Antioxidants- Similar to their effects in food, antioxidants have the capacity to repair damaged arteries, ultimately reducing the amount of plaque build-up and reducing pressure on the arterial walls. Vitamins A, C and E, as well as the minerals zinc and selenium have many healing effects on the cardiovascular system. Cyto-matrix has created a formula with all of the above ingredients above- take 1 capsule 3 times daily.
Lifestyle factors that contribute to high blood pressure include stress, a lack of exercise and smoking. Reports have shown that people who are also sensitive to salt intake tend to be more likely to suffer from the disorder.
In addition, individuals that are exposed to heavy metals such as lead, mercury, cadmium, and arsenic are at a significantly higher risk as well. This is due to their impact on the kidneys, which are responsible for removing toxins, such as heavy metals from our circulatory system. If these metals begin to concentrate in the kidneys, their normal functioning is disrupted and ability to regulate the body’s fluid volume is compromised. The result is retention of sodium and water in the blood.
Exercise- Simply put, the more fit a person is, the less likely they are to have high BP. Exercise can be used to not only prevent high BP, but treat it. Studies have shown that with the addition of a regular exercise routine, blood pressure can be reduced 5 - 10 mm Hg for both the systolic and diastolic readings.
It is important to find the right type of exercise that works for you and your body type. Activities such as walking at a fast-pace, jogging, biking, and even dancing are ideal. Even just 20 minutes a day of mild to moderate aerobic exercise will have significant impacts on blood pressure. A minimum of 3 days per week to perform aerobic exercises should be considered to reduce BP.
Stress Reduction- Stress is often found as a root cause in HBP, although it’s not necessarily stress itself that is the concern, but rather one’s response to and processing of stress that is of concern. Deep breathing exercises, meditation, yoga and progressive muscle relaxation are all techniques that have been shown to be beneficial in reducing stress.
Diaphragmatic breathing techniques, involving regular, short sessions of slow breaths is very beneficial. Studies have shown that the opposite act, shallow breathing, leads to retention of sodium in the body. Diaphragmatic breathing can be practiced daily for 5-10 minutes before bed or first thing in the morning. It is also a great technique to use in immediate stressful situations.
Yoga- Although not all yoga poses may be appropriate or beneficial for high blood pressure, certain postures have tremendous benefits in opening up coronary arteries and reducing diseases such as atherosclerosis, and high blood pressure. Regular practice of Fish Pose (Matsyasana) will protect the body from conditions of the heart, including narrowing of the coronary arteries, coronary thrombosis, and pulmonary hypertension.
This posture should be practiced with care and avoided completely if any pain or severe discomfort is experienced. To get into the fish position, lie flat on your back, legs, and feet together, keeping the knees straight. Place your hands, palms downward, beneath the thighs. Keeping the weight on the elbows, lift the head and chest up as much as possible, expand the chest as much as possible and then drop the head back towards the floor. Keep the weight on the elbows. To release, lift the head up, lower the back to the floor, and relax in the corpse pose. This posture can also be done from a seated position if the original pose feels too strenuous.
What to Avoid
Avoid excessive salt consumption, without adequate potassium intake. Also avoid foods that damage the arteries such as refined carbohydrates, sugar, alcohol, caffeine, and wheat.
Break the negative habits in your life, reduce excess body weight, stop smoking and quit drinking alcohol. If you plan on continuing to drink alcohol and caffeine, consume a maximum of 8 ounces of wine daily, and stick to 1-cup of coffee in the morning.