Posts Tagged ‘high blood pressure’

high blood pressure

The most commonly diagnosed medical condition in the United States is high blood pressure, or hypertension, and blood pressure medications are among the top 10 most commonly prescribed drugs. However, these medications can cause undesirable side effects. It’s better to address the underlying causes of high blood pressure—research shows diet and lifestyle changes are just as effective or even better than medications in lowering high blood pressure.

Why should you be concerned about high blood pressure? High blood pressure increases the risk of heart attack, heart failure, kidney failure, diabetes and peripheral vascular disease. Thirty percent of the population has high blood pressure, and another 30 percent has pre-hypertension, or somewhat elevated high blood pressure. Men are more likely than women to have high blood pressure before the age of 45, but after 65 the ratio reverses. African Americans and Mexican-Americans are at an increased risk.

Diet and lifestyle changes most effective approach

Instead of treating symptoms, address the actual causes of high blood pressure for lasting better health. Studies have shown that lifestyle changes alone can reduce risk of heart disease by a dramatic 90 percent. Lifestyle interventions influence the fundamental biological mechanisms leading to all chronic disease. For instance, regular exercise is one of the best ways known to control high blood pressure. Other important factors include a whole foods diet rich in plant fiber and low in sugar and sodium, maintaining a healthy weight (a BMI less than 25 is ideal), not smoking, and managing stress, such as through yoga, meditation, walking, and laughter.

Adding the functional medicine approach

In functional medicine, we look for why the person has high blood pressure rather than simply at what can be done to lower it; it’s a person-centered approach, versus a disease-centered one. Factors to consider include genetic predispositions, nutritional deficiencies, environmental triggers, and lifestyle habits, such as:

  • Deficiencies in nutrients such as biotin, vitamin D, vitamin C, B1, choline, magnesium and CoQ10.
  • Toxic levels of mercury.
  • Hypothyroidism: Appropriate management of a thyroid condition such as autoimmune Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism can normalize blood pressure.
  • A lack of dietary potassium and too much sodium. Balancing these nutrients can help balance blood pressure.
  • Magnesium deficiency. Many people are deficient in magnesium, which can help relax the blood vessels.
  • Chronic systemic inflammation.
  • Elevated blood sugar and metabolic syndrome (pre-diabetes), which are related to hypertension.
  • Hormonal imbalances, such as an estrogen deficiency, can lead to high blood pressure.

By addressing these and other factors, a functional medicine approach addresses the root cause of high blood pressure. Research has shown that up to 62 percent of high blood pressure patients were able to go off their anti-hypertension medications and maintain normal blood pressure by making diet and lifestyle changes. Eating a whole foods, vegetable-based diet and avoiding processed foods will help keep you sufficient and balanced in the right minerals to support healthy blood pressure.

Ask my office for more information on how you can address the root cause of your high blood pressure.

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how to prevent stroke

Strokes are scary, seemingly leaping out of nowhere. They are the third leading cause of death in the United States and for those who survive, they are the leading cause of disability in adults. But strokes don’t have to be mysterious. In fact, research shows 90 percent of strokes are caused by dietary and lifestyle factors, which means you can lower your risk with a few changes to how you live.

A stroke occurs when an artery that carries blood to the brain either becomes blocked or ruptures. This starves the brain of blood and oxygen, often causing permanent brain damage. A stroke can leave someone with impaired speech, memory, or movement. How this damage affects the person depends on which parts of the brain were damaged and to what degree.

What causes a stroke

Although strokes are a leading cause of disability in adults, the good news is up to 90 percent of them are preventable. This means simple changes to your diet and lifestyle will protect your brain health well into old age. Research has found the great majority of strokes are caused by the following:

  • High blood pressure: High blood pressure is the strongest link, more than doubling the risk
  • Smoking: Doubles your risk
  • Poor diet: Increases the risk by 30 percent
  • Lack of exercise: Exercise four or more hours a week reduces your risk by 30 percent
  • Drinking too much: Thirty or more drinks a month increases the risk by 50 percent
  • Stress and depression: These raise the risk by more than 30 percent
  • Diabetes
  • Excess abdominal fat
  • Heart disorders

Revamping your diet is key to stroke prevention

The most important thing is to revamp your diet. This means focusing on whole foods, plenty of vegetables, healthy fats, and ditching sodas, desserts, sweet coffee drinks, and processed foods. It can be difficult at first but most people begin feeling significantly better right away, which motivates them to stick with better eating habits.

Lower stroke risk by stabilizing blood sugar

A whole foods diet should focus on keeping blood sugar stable. High blood sugar causes inflammation, which damages and thickens arterial walls and promotes the formation of arterial plaques and blood clots. People with Type 2 diabetes, a disease of high blood sugar, are two to four times more likely to have a stroke or heart attack than those without the disease.

Just because something is natural, whole, or organic does not necessarily mean it is good for stabilizing blood sugar levels. Use natural sweeteners such as maple syrup, agave, or honey sparingly, and minimize consumption of starchy foods such as potatoes and grains.

Regular exercise prevents stroke or severity of strokes

When it comes to protecting brain health, exercise is a magic bullet. Regular exercise helps keep blood vessels strong and dilated, improves blood flow to the brain, and helps maintain a healthier metabolism. If one does have a stroke, research shows having exercised regularly significantly lowers the severity of the stroke and offers a better chance for long-term recovery. You do not need to take up bodybuilding or triathlons; simply walking regularly can be very beneficial.

Nutritional compounds to prevent stroke

Although diet and lifestyle strategies are key to stroke prevention, certain nutritional compounds can help support the arteries and healthy blood pressure, oxygenate the brain, stabilize blood sugar, and more. Ask my office how we can help you lower your risk of stroke and support your brain health.

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