Over 1,000 people will die in the U.S. today and every day this year from uncontrolled high blood pressure! An elevated blood pressure of 140/90 or higher, known as hypertension, is a major risk factor for heart attacks and strokes, two of the “Deadly 4” killers in America. High blood pressure is also associated with such scary things as impaired memory, slower thinking, premature brain aging, dementia, kidney damage, erectile dysfunction, and blindness. We NEED healthy blood vessels. Measuring the blood pressure within is how we monitor that blood vessel health…
High blood pressure is a true epidemic! Over 90% of adults 55 and older will develop high blood pressure. More than 50% with high blood pressure do not have their disease properly controlled, even with access to modern medicines. Although some causes of high blood pressure are unavoidable, the vast majority are preventable and/or treatable naturally. The research is compelling, abundant, and absolutely convincing. These approaches work!
If you have elevated blood pressure, you should absolutely be under the care of a knowledgeable physician. However, there are approaches to controlling your disease that can most often minimize or eliminate the need for prescriptions. I see patients stop blood pressure medications and/or normalize an elevated BP regularly with these strategies. An elevated blood pressure indicates blood vessel disease, so don’t take the condition lightly. And remember, a blood pressure LESS THAN 120/80 is ideal for Optimum Health.
Following are 4 strategies to EMBRACE if you want to significantly lower your blood pressure while minimizing prescriptions and their side effects! (Just consider the following known side effects of commonly prescribed BP meds: fatigue, depression, elevated blood sugars, high cholesterol, slow metabolism, dizziness, and erectile dysfunction!). The following have ONLY positive effects!
BP Strategy #1: Lifestyle.
- Sleep. Less than 5 hours of sleep per night results in a risk for hypertension 500% higher than those sleeping the recommended 7 ½ hours per night. Get to bed… and stay there 7 ½ hours each night!
- Fitness time. 30 minutes of brisk walking daily reduces systolic blood pressure over 6%!
BP Strategy #2: Weight control.
Adults more than double their risk of high blood pressure if they are just 25 lbs or more overweight. Obese children are 86% more likely to develop hypertension than those who remain normal or just overweight. The good news… in one study over 50% of those with severe hypertension who lost 5% of their weight (10 lbs for a 200 lb person) remained off medication 1 year later!
Follow my rules of 20 regarding weight and BP:
- Don’t gain 20 lbs after age 20 to prevent high BP.
- If you have already gained 20 lbs after age 20, lose AT LEAST 20 lbs to lower BP.
BP Strategy #3: Food as medicine…. here are my top 7 recommendations.
- Avoid carbohydrates. Carbohydrates have a single purpose, to supply your body with energy. Too many carbs elevate insulin levels, which increase blood pressure. Eat only what you absolutely need for survival.
- Avoid sodium (salt) intake. 1,500 mg is the recommended limit, but Americans get 5,000 mg. Use a salt substitute, such as Morton’s Lite Salt, which is low sodium.
- Potassium from fruits and vegetables. Get at least 7 servings per day. The high potassium content lowers BP. Spinach, mushrooms, broccoli, carrots, celery, avocado, bananas are winners!
- Cocoa powder. Add a tablespoon to your coffee to flavor it up or eat >85% dark chocolate. Cocoa flavonols lower BP about 5.9 points.
- Mixed nuts, a handful per day. High in potassium and magnesium. Lower blood pressure.
- Berries lower BP up to 7.3 mm Hg. Consider a cup of blueberries every day.
- Olive oil. 1 oz per day of extra virgin olive oil can rejuvenate damaged blood vessels!
BP Strategy #4: Supplement strategies.
- Potassium citrate (the potassium found in fruits and vegetables) is one of my favorite supplements. 1200 mg per day lowers BP 3.6 points on average, while keeping muscles and bones strong.
- Green tea extract. 208 mg of EGCG daily lowered BP 4.9 points in one study.
- Fish Oil. 900 mg or more of EPA/DHA reduces arterial stiffness.
- Vitamin C. 500 mg daily lowers BP 3.84 points.
- Vitamin K-1. Associated with lower rates of calcium deposits in arteries.
- Folate. Higher intake had a 52% reduction in BP risk in one study.
Note: 1 & 2 are specialty supplements. #3-6 are in the Essential Nutrients that I recommend for all adults.
Your blood pressure is a key indicator of your blood vessel health. Without healthy blood vessels, maintaining long term Optimum Health is only an illusion. As I review the above strategies, I realize they are all approaches that I have integrated into my routine. If I can do it, you can too! Even though I am over age 50, my blood pressure is ideal at around 110/70. Your Optimum Health is worth the focus…. Enjoy a snack of mixed nuts or celery today…
For Optimum Health,
Rick Tague, M.D., M.P.H.