Hypertension: Taking the Pressure Off - Part 3

Hypertension: Taking the Pressure Off - Part 3

Meat and Endothelial Dysfunction

So what raises inflammation increasing blood vessel wall thickness and causes endothelial dysfunction? Animal product consumption. Three or more servings of meat, poultry, eggs, fish, and/or seafood per day increase the risk of hypertension by 67%. 221 Of particular concern are pork products. The American Heart Journal notes: “A complete elimination of pork in all forms is a good dietary therapeutic rule in the management of arterial hypertension in all patients.” “The elimination of all forms of pork from the diet of all people may be a good practice for the prevention and the control of hypertension, one of the most common and important illnesses of man.” “Salted pork is even more hazardous to the health of man.” 222 Maybe this is why it was not considered a food item in God’s book, for Leviticus notes, “And the swine…is unclean to you.”. 223 Even eggs won’t help you lower your blood pressure. Eggs play a significant role in people 40 years old and older in their risk of hypertension. 224 Animal products lack solution oriented antioxidants and if they’re not a part of the solution then they are often a part of the problem. This is definitely the case in eating animal products.

Animal Products Face Acid Test

Acid is no friend of your body’s sensitive tissues. Acid increases endothelial dysfunction leading to hypertension. 225 As a consequence, acid forming foods, particularly cheese and animal protein, significantly increase hypertension. 226 Studying acid in the urine to identify acid forming foods, fruit and vegetables actually lower the amount of acid that is formed in the digestion of food. Grains, fish and red meat increase acid formation, but cheese almost triples the amount of acid produced by comparison. 227 One of the offending acids produced is uric acid. Anything that raises uric acid in the blood raises the risk of hypertension. 228 Foods that raise uric acid include: meat (particularly 6 organ meats) 230 , seafood, 231 fructose 233 (often as high fructose corn syrup or agave sweetener), beer and alcoholic beverages. 234 As a consequence, the same diet helpful in lowering the risk of gout from uric acid elevations can simultaneously lower the risk of hypertension.

Foods known to help lower uric acid levels include fruits such as lemons 235 and other citrus, cherries, 236 strawberries, 237 grapes, apples, tomatoes, bananas, and pomegranates; vegetables such as celery, potatoes, beets, and endive; and most tree nuts, especially chestnuts. 238 For that matter, any food with diuretic properties has the potential to relieve high blood pressure that is being caused by high uric acid levels. Foods valued for there enhanced urine production properties (diuretic) include: artichoke, celery, eggplant, cauliflower, green beans, grape, apple, peach, pear, melon and watermelon. 238 When you increase the amount of urine you produce, you potentially increase the amount of uric acid lost in the urine, thus lowering the levels in your blood.

Strong Drink

The impact of alcohol on the rise in blood pressure is not limited to it’s propensity to elevate blood uric acid levels. There is a linear relationship between the amount of alcohol consumed and the rise in blood pressure 239 (the more alcohol you drink the higher your blood pressure goes 240 ). A two drink a day person can lower their risk of hypertension by one third simply by abstaining. 239 The wise man says “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.” 242

Choosing A Blood Pressure Sensitive Dietary Lifestyle

Diet plays a significant role in hypertension, after all you are what you eat! In a study comparing common diets, it was discovered that non-vegetarians (consumers of animal products like meat, eggs and dairy) eat 50% more fat, have 30% higher total cholesterols, have 32% higher blood sugars and are six (6) times more likely to develop hypertension. 243 Indeed, in rural populations still practicing their traditional largely vegetable based lifestyle, free from the effects of the western diet, hypertension is unheard of and there is no age related rise in blood pressure. 244 Their average blood pressure is around 110/60 mmHg, average cholesterol 129 mg/dl, blood sugars 55 mg/dl and body mass index is 20 (kg/cm2). 245

Really, blood pressure is not supposed to go up with age! In choosing a dietary lifestyle you will be interested to know that people adopting total plant based nutrition only have a 5% incidence of hypertension, those vegetarians including dairy and eggs with their meals a 10% incidence, fish eating vegetarians a 12% incidence, and meat eaters a 21% incidence. 246 Studied from another angle, people on total plant based nutrition have one fourth the risk of developing hypertension as meat eaters. 247

In considering adopting a health promoting lifestyle, the vegan (plant based nutrition) diet has many blood pressure lowering advantages. In one study hypertensive patients, on blood pressure medications for 8 years, were given a vegan diet for one year. Blood pressures came down and the majority were able to stop or drastically reduce their medications. 248 Just eating more fruits and vegetables is helpful, compared to those who do not eat many fruits or vegetables; those who eat largely of fruits and vegetables have a 77% lower risk of hypertension. 249 Vegetables lower blood pressure and keep it from creeping up over the years. 250

Vegetables known to be helpful in lowering blood pressure include: green leafy because they are high in magnesium and potassium, 251 spinach 252 because it is rich in folate, celery 255 (eat it or drink it!), carrots, 256 ginger 257 and broccoli 258 because they relax blood vessels, beets, 259 basil, 260 garlic 262 (supplement or whole), onions (eaten raw, but not cooked) significantly reduce hypertension. 263

Not to be left out, fruit also lowers blood pressure. 264 Fruits especially shown to have a positive impact on blood pressure include eggplant 266 , tomatoes, 267 pumpkin or squash 268 (which are high in potassium and low in sodium), cranberry (which has ACE inhibitory activity mimicking a popular blood pressure pill), 269 an apple a day, 270 pomegranates, 271 grapefruit 272 (which protect arteries, has diuretic activity and improves blood fluidity) and finally olives 273 (which have calcium channel blocking and nitric oxide mediated vasodilatation benefits).

Deficiency of certain minerals in the diet increases the risk of hypertension. Iron: people eating a nutritious vegetarian diet providing sufficient intake of iron enjoy lower blood pressures. Iron from meat, know as heme-iron, is not helpful in this regard. 274 Potassium: lowers blood pressure, 275 but the most common blood pressure pill, a diuretic, lowers potassium. 276 Calcium is needed to maintain normal blood pressure. 277 Copper deficiency, a common result of eating refined carbohydrates, 278 has been shown to cause high cholesterol (hypercholesterolemia), high triglycerides (hypertriglyceridemia), hypertension, and glucose intolerance (diabetes). 279 Magnesium deficiency precipitates hypertension. 280 Mineral levels are decreased by alcohol, salt, phosphoric acid (sodas), coffee intake, by profuse sweating, by intense prolonged stress, by excessive menstruation and vaginal flux, by diuretics and other drugs, by certain parasites (pinworms), by sugar (refined carbohydrates) and by use of tobacco.

What’s For Breakfast?

Breakfast eaters experience lower blood pressures than breakfast skippers. 281 In planning breakfast be warned of the “cereal killer”. Most processed breakfast cereals (dry or hot) have a hard time sustaining life and cause hypertension in laboratory animals. 282 Choose whole plant based unrefined foods for a healthy, blood pressure friendly breakfast. If you cannot, by looking at the breakfast food, determine its identity (such as “O”s or flakes which do not resemble their origin), don’t put it in your mouth. It is much better to eat identifiable cereals such as granola, oatmeal, and other whole grain cereal foods.

The reason why refining foods causes so much hypertension is that fiber and minerals are removed in the process. 283 Fiber from grains has been shown to reduce the risk of hypertension by 40%. 284 Vegetable fiber, 65 gm/day, can reduce your blood pressure by 12-14 points. 285

Beans help lower blood pressure because they are low in sodium, have healthy fiber and contain the blood pressure lowering minerals potassium, magnesium and calcium. 286

Even nuts are beneficial. A daily serving of nuts can reduce the risk of hypertension by 18%. 287 The preferred variety is raw or dry roasted with little or no salt. Even “soy nuts”, a roasted soybean product, have been shown to positively impact blood pressure. 288

One important antioxidant vitamin for addressing blood pressure is vitamin C. When blood levels are maintained from natural dietary sources, blood pressure drops, 289 but not when blood levels are attempted through artificial (pill supplementation) sources. 290 Diets high in this and other naturally occurring vitamins from fruit and vegetables lower blood pressure. 291 One such diet is the Hawaiian diet. This diet is high in complex carbohydrate (77% of calories), low in fat (12% of calories), moderate in protein (11% of calories), and has been shown decreases in blood pressure as much as 10 points. 292

One research group, wanting to maximize dietary impact on blood pressure management, put their patients on a six month 62% uncooked, fresh fruit and vegetable diet. The result was an 8 pound weight loss and a 18 mm Hg blood pressure decrease. In passing, the researchers noted that 80% of those in this study who smoked or drank alcohol abstained spontaneously. They reported increased sensitivity to alcohol, cigarette smoke, chemical odors, and medication. Several also had nausea, vomiting, and malaise after typical restaurant or banquet dinners. 293 What kind of diet are we talking about? This is the original diet! “And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.” “and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;” 294 “Grains, fruits, nuts, and vegetables constitute the diet chosen for us by our Creator. These foods, prepared in as simple and natural a manner as possible, are the most healthful and nourishing. They impart a strength, a power of endurance, and a vigor of intellect that are not afforded by a more complex and stimulating diet.” 295

Why Eat So Much?

“And put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite.” 296 Hypertension increases with overeating. 297 , 298 Don’t overeat! “...eat in due season, for strength, and not for drunkenness!” 299 Eating less food (caloric restriction) reduces blood vessel stiffness, improves vascular relaxation and lowers blood pressure. 300 , 301

Taking it a step farther, fasting has been shown to be an effective modality is lowering blood pressure. You can jump start your blood pressure reduction with a water only fast. 302 Fasting effectively reduces stubborn hypertension. 303 Fasting one or two days a week may be more effective than pills. 304

Have Some Lemon In Your Water!

With dehydration as one of the causes of hypertension, 305 what is the best way to get my water? Adding fresh squeezed lemon to water maximizes its impact on hypertension. 306 We recommend that you squeeze the juice of one lemon into your first quart of water for the day and drink it at least 30 minutes before breakfast to lower blood pressure. We recommend that the water be lukewarm; not hot or cold. Tachycardia: Increased Heart Rate

If the heart beats faster, a higher volume of blood is pumped and the blood pressure rises. 307 We call this tachycardia. Anything that causes the resting heart rate to increase accelerates the risk of hypertension. In fact for every 10 beats/min increase in heart rate the risk of hypertension increases by 42%. 308 You see, athletes have very low heart rates. People who have not been exercising have a high heart rate, and a high risk of hypertension. Stress also raises the heart (pulse) rate.

Does Stress Run In Your Blood?

Are you easily startled? This is part of your response to stress and is an early sign you may be headed for hypertension. 309 Besides raising the heart rate and tightening the blood vessels, another way stress causes hypertension and blood clots is that it thickens the blood so that it requires more pressure to pump it through the blood vessels. 310 People who never get anxious have a significantly lower incidence of hypertension. 311 “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” 312

Another way to look at it is that people who handle stressful life events more effectively have greater success maintaining healthy blood pressure. 313 This may have something to do with personality. The easygoing type B personalities go easier on blood pressure than their type A counterparts. 314 Easy-going, laid-back, calm, relaxed responses to life’s challenges predict normal blood pressures. 315 People with cool tempers experience calmer blood pressures 316 and fewer heart attacks. 317 “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.” 318 What’s more, happier more cheerful people have lower blood pressure. 319

Having trouble coping? Stress management training, including hostility reduction and anger management have been shown to be effective at lowering blood pressure. 320

Of course, stress is how you perceive your risks, not the risks themselves. People who experience events as negative have a higher risk of hypertension. 321 The question then is; how can I steer clear of, or get over stress? How do I change my perceptions of risk away from the negative toward the positive? The first step is to be aware when stress is playing a role in your life. Does your pulse rise? Are you physically tense? Do you experience headaches or anxiety? Are you nervous? Does fatigue dog your steps? Do you have high blood pressure? Being in touch with your emotions is key because stress is an emotional experience.

When you discover that you have stress, your next step is to realize or remember what thoughts surround or accompany your stress. Evaluate the validity of those thoughts. Are they rational? Are they negative or are they positive? Once you have flushed out the thoughts underlying your stressful feelings the next step is to determine what these thoughts tell you about what you believe. Beliefs underlie thoughts, thoughts underlie feelings and feelings drive actions or behaviors like hypertension. Take a closer look at your secretly held beliefs, especially the ones underlying stressful feelings. Most often you will discover beliefs that set you up for unreasonable fear, worry or anger. You need to challenge these beliefs and replace them with rational ones. “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” 322

Beliefs that you will find most helpful for achieving good health are ones to be obtained from the Bible where we learn that, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” 323

One common stress provoking fear is one of financial failure. But when we have turned our lives over to God we can expect His care. “And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment. Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls? And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit? If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest? Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothe the grass, which is today in the field, and tomorrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith? And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.” 324

People who put the past behind them, not ruminating about past anger-provoking events are at lower risk for hypertension and its complications. 325 “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” 326

Stressful Life Events

One way to increase your stress is to subject your mind to the impressions being made on television. Two (2) hours a day of television watching increases the risk of hypertension by 40%. 327 As I am sure you are well aware (if you think about it), the main character of the television show plot is either in trouble, getting into trouble or getting out of trouble: life just isn’t that bad.

Difficulty paying medical expenses is associated with increased hypertension. 328 It is also the number one reason for bankruptcy in the United States. 329

Work Pleasure

The rewards of gainful, meaningful employment bear mentioning. People happy with their jobs and their income are more likely to experience happy, healthy blood pressure. 330 , 331 People who enjoy their jobs and are not overworked or depressed have lower blood pressures. 332 Having purpose in life helps moderate blood pressure. 333

Social Pleasure

Looking at the social aspects of blood pressure control: people with close supportive friends have lower blood pressures. 334 Indeed, sharing a negative life experience with an ambivalent friend raises blood pressure and heart rate. Alternatively sharing the same event with a caring, supportive friend lowers blood pressure and heart rate. Similarly, blood pressure levels are lowest when people are with family and highest when amongst strangers. 335

Pet Power

Does keeping an animal help blood pressure? Yes, loving pets have a blood pressure lowering effect for people with hypertension. 336

Music Magic

Do you enjoy listening to music? Music can help blood pressure. 337 Blood pressures respond positively to classical music, but not jazz or pop. 338

Emerging Urban Danger

Environment plays a significant role in stress. Moving to the city? Expect a 23-point rise in your systolic blood pressure and a 9-point rise in your diastolic blood pressure. 339 There are hazards in just commuting to a city. Traffic related air pollution and noise significantly increases the risk of hypertension. 340 People living in small rural towns have half the risk of hypertension as people living in large industrialized cities. 341

Rural Relief

Quietness, solitude and silence sooth the nerves and lower your blood pressure. 342 , 343 The stillness is remedial, “Be still, and know that I am God:”. 344 People living where the din of busy roads never reaches their ears have a 37% lower risk of hypertension. 345 Outdoor walks, enjoying trees, flowers, and other wonders of God’s great nature, lower blood pressure and stress. 346 Even bringing the outdoors into the home through houseplants has been shown to improve blood pressure. 347 , 348

Life’s Pleasure: Helping Others

If you have some extra time and want to do something beneficial for your blood pressure, volunteering is a wonderful aid in keeping blood pressures normal. 349 Find someone else who could use your help and give of yourself to the needs of the world. “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” 350


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