Maintaining a normal blood pressure is extremely important, because your blood vessels affect nearly every square inch of your body and can cause problems as life-threatening as stroke and hypovolemic shock or as comparatively insignificant as dizzy spells and erectile dysfunction.
For those who don’t know, blood pressure is a measurement of the pressure in your arteries during the active and resting phases of each heartbeat. Here’s what the numbers mean:
Systolic Pressure – which is the top number, is the amount of pressure your heart generates when pumping blood through your arteries to the rest of your body.
Diastolic Pressure – the bottom number, refers to the amount of pressure in your arteries when your heart is at rest between beats.
Most people believe that high blood pressure is more dangerous than low blood pressure, and to a certain extent this is true, BUT low blood pressure can kill more suddenly than high blood pressure. These sudden deaths are usually the result of hypovolemic shock, brought on by dehydration.
Both high and low blood pressure are usually symptoms of other issues, which is why simply medicating blood pressure into submission, is not the best way to normalize your blood pressure long-term. Treating the cause instead of just the symptom is always the best way to go.
High blood pressure is usually the result of too much salt intake, lack of physical activity, being overweight, stress, smoking, consuming too much alcohol, chronic kidney disease, adrenal and thyroid disorders, but can also be the result of advanced age and genetics.
Low blood pressure is usually a sign of nutritional deficiencies, an allergic reaction, blood loss, and heart issues.
We’ll start by discussing holistic treatments that will help normalize both high and low blood pressure.
#1 Exercise – Exercise increases blood flow and improves circulation like nothing else. You don’t have to run, jog or engage in any strenuous activities to benefit. Even 20 straight minutes of walking each day will do you and your blood pressure a world of good.
#2 Stay Hydrated – Water truly is the elixir of life and good health. And in this case, it can help normalize both high and low blood pressure. As I mentioned earlier, low blood pressure can be caused by dehydration, but what many people don’t realize is that dehydration can cause high blood pressure as well.
When you don’t drink an adequate amount of water the body will compensate by retaining sodium. And, as I’m sure you know, too much sodium increases blood pressure.
High Blood Pressure (or hypertension) is greatly helped by increasing macro-mineral consumption. The following three, in particular:
#1 Potassium – Potassium and sodium are both electrolytes, which means that they are conductors within cellular fluid and the bloodstream. The majority of potassium exists within cells, though, while most sodium is outside of cells. An optimal balance between potassium and sodium is known as “membrane potential”, and means one nutrient can alter levels of the other. For example, when you have normal to high levels of sodium and low to normal levels of potassium, more potassium will help to decrease sodium levels by causing cells to release sodium in exchange for potassium, after which the body excretes the excess sodium in urine. This is why most medical doctors prescribe pharmaceutical grade Potassium, as part of a drug regimen, to help lower blood pressure.
But if you keep your sodium intake low you will only need the 4,700mg of Potassium recommended by the National Institutes of Health.
In addition to controlling blood pressure and heart rhythm, your body uses potassium to form new cells and extract energy from carbohydrates. The amount of dietary potassium used to curb your blood pressure changes from day to day and meal to meal, based on your sodium intake and your particular metabolism. While no one can say how much potassium will lower your blood pressure, achieving the recommended daily value will put you in the correct range to offset average sodium intakes.
The foods highest in Potassium are:
Raw Bananas, Tomatoes, especially canned, peas, White beans, Pinto beans, Baby lima beans (frozen), lentils and kidney beans, most beans in fact contain high amounts of potassium. Also, dates, condensed milk, baked potatoes – with skin, sweet potatoes with skin, raisins, halibut, sockeye salmon, spinach and many more.
#2 Magnesium – Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the Human body and Medical research has long suggested a link between magnesium deficiency and hypertension, however, there is inconsistent clinical evidence regarding supplementation. For some, supplementation worked, but for others, getting sufficient magnesium from food may be required for normalizing blood pressure.
How much is enough? Depends on your gender. Nutrition experts say men need at least 350mg of magnesium, while women require at least 280mg.
By the way, spinach, lima beans, raisins, pinto beans, baked potato, lentils, banana, and halibut are also rich in Magnesium. So you’ll get even more bang for your caloric buck.
All green vegetables are good sources of Magnesium, because the center of the chlorophyll molecule (which gives green vegetables their color) contains magnesium. There’s also wheat bran, bread made from whole grain wheat flour, broccoli, almonds, peanuts and peanut butter, cashews, blackeye peas, bran flake cereal, long grain brown rice, avocado, yogurt and many more foods… Some that may surprise you.
#3 Calcium – Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the Human body, and it not only helps ensure strong bones and teeth, you also need it for healthy blood vessels, heart rhythm, muscles and hormone secretion. Magnesium helps transport calcium and potassium throughout your body and aids in nerve and muscle function, blood sugar maintenance and metabolism.
In the February 2008 issue of “Hypertension,” Dr. Lu Wang writes that the risk for hypertension decreases with higher levels of dietary calcium intake, but not with calcium supplements.
Recent studies have also proven that calcium from food is more effective than that which comes from manufactured supplements. However, not all calcium supplements are equal.
The two of the most common types of Calcium are calcium citrate and calcium carbonate. Calcium citrate is more easily absorbed by the body than calcium carbonate, especially in people over 50, but provides less elemental calcium and is more expensive. If, for whatever reason, you cannot get your daily dose from foods Calcium citrate may be useful. And keep in mind that these studies did not examine Vitamin D levels in participants. Without Vitamin D, the human body cannot properly absorb Calcium, regardless of its source.
So, how much will you need? According to the National Institutes of Health, adults 19 to 50 and pregnant or breast-feeding women require an total of about 1,000mg of calcium each day while adults 51 and older need about 1,200mg of calcium. These amounts include calcium from food and supplements.
The Harvard School of Public Health claims that “dairy products contain the highest concentration of absorb-able calcium per serving”. These foods include low-fat milk, yogurt (also high in Magnesium) and Parmesan, Romano, cheddar, American, Gruyere, mozzarella and feta cheeses. But sardines also contain a significant amount of calcium, as does kale, turnips, collard greens, spinach, fortified orange juice, soy milk and enriched cereals, enriched breads, waffles and grains.
Meditation has also been clinically proven to lower high blood pressure. Particularly transcendental meditation.
Abnormally Low blood pressure (or hypotension) is usually caused by nutrient deficiencies. In such cases, you can reverse the condition by eating a nutrient rich diet. In particular, you should increase your intake of Vitamin C, B Vitamins, especially Vitamin B5 (also known as pantothenic acid), and Vitamin E.
A protein deficiency can also lead to hypotension, because protein is necessary for building blood vessels. Blood vessels in a person with hypotension may be too weak to pump blood properly.
Eggs are widely considered the best protein source on the planet, because they contain all nine essential amino acids: Luceine, Isoluceine, Valine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Threonine, Tryptophan, Hystidine.
But other great protein sources are almonds and almond butter, quinoa, tempeh; organic, plain, European (Greek) yogurt; tuna, wild salmon, organic chicken and grass-fed Beef. Make sure your meats are all lean, organically raised and non-GMO.
Low blood pressure can also be caused by some pharmaceutical drugs, thyroid disorders, Addison’s disease, hypoglycemia, nervous system disorders – like Parkinson’s disease, which can affect the communication between your brain and the rhythmic pumping of your heart; hypotension can also be cause by heart problems – such as valvular heart disease, a very low heart rate, and even congestive heart failure.
Congestive heart failure is often associated with high blood pressure but can also be associated with symptomatic low blood pressure. Very rarely, the cause of symptomatic low blood pressure cannot be determined. Doctors will sometimes prescribe drug therapies in these cases, but increasing salt intake is a simple solution… that often works. And without the possible side affect of then having to later struggle with hypertension.
The symptoms experienced by most people suffering from hypotension are dizziness, blurred vision, losing consciousness, shortness of breath, or an inability to perform your usual exercises. If you only experience such symptoms when standing up from a sitting position or sitting up after lying down for awhile, this is called Orthostatic Hypotension and usually lasts only a short period of time. Patients with these symptoms need to seek medical attention.
Abnormally low blood pressure with no symptoms merits a medical evaluation, but rarely needs to be treated. If you feel fine and can function normally, you are probably in no immediate danger. Since we all have a unique biochemistry, it’s possible that what is abnormally low blood pressure for most people is normal for you. But you should consult a medical professional, just to be sure.
I should also mention that if you are currently on a doctor prescribed drug regimen for blood pressure, it is not advisable to simply stop without first consulting your doctor. And you should always let your doctor know which supplements you are taking, as they may interact with your prescription medications.
It is also a good idea to monitor your blood pressure daily, at home, so that you can keep track of your progress.
As you implement the aforementioned changes to your diet and lifestyle, your blood pressure will change and your doctor will be able to adjust your medications accordingly.
Speaking of blood pressure medications, if you, or someone you love, suffers from dragon breathe as a result of taking blood pressure medications, try chlorophyll. Taking 100mg of Chlorophyll three times a day will neutralize the offensive odor in no time. It’s worked wonders for someone close to me.