If you are diagnosed with high blood pressure, dietary strategies will be crucial to controlling your levels. Avoiding processed foods (due to their being high in sugar/fructose, grains, trans fat and other damaged fats and processed salt) is my number one recommendation if you have high blood pressure. Instead, make whole, ideally organic, foods the focus of your diet.
As you reduce processed foods, and other sources of non-vegetable carbs, from your diet, you’ll want to replace them with healthy fat.
Sources of healthy fats to add to your diet include:
– Butter made from raw, grass-fed organic milk
– Raw dairy
– Organic pastured egg yolks
– Coconuts and coconut oil
– Unheated organic nut oils
– Raw nuts, such as pecans and macadamia, which are low in protein and high in healthy fats
– Grass-fed meats or pasture raised poultry
Other key elements for healthy blood pressure
It’s not only your diet that matters for healthy blood pressure … a comprehensive fitness program is another strategy that can improve your blood pressure and heart health on multiple levels (such as improving your insulin sensitivity).
To reap the greatest rewards, I strongly suggest including high-intensity interval exercises in your routine. You’ll also want to include weight training. When you work individual muscle groups you increase blood flow to those muscles, and good blood flow will increase your insulin sensitivity.
If you want to kill several birds with one stone, exercise barefoot outdoors on sunny days.Not only will you get much-needed sunshine to promote production of heart-healthy vitamin D, but bright daylight sun exposure will also help maintain a healthy circadian clock, which will help you sleep better.
Poor sleep is yet another oft-ignored factor that can cause resistant hypertension. Going barefoot, meanwhile, will help you ground to the earth. Experiments show that walking barefoot outside – also referred to as Earthing or grounding — improves blood viscosity and blood flow, which help regulate blood pressure. Keep in mind that, in most cases, high blood pressure is a condition that can be managed and oftentimes reversed with natural lifestyle changes.
Top 10 strategies to prevent and treat hypertension
1 Skip breakfast: Research shows that intermittent fasting helps fight obesity and type 2 diabetes, both of which are risk factors for high blood pressure. Your body is most sensitive to insulin and leptin after a period of fasting.
While there are many types of fasting regimens, one of the easiest to comply with is an eating schedule where you limit your eating to a specific, narrow window of time each day. I typically recommend starting out by skipping breakfast, and making lunch your first meal of the day until you resolve insulin resistance, then you can eat breakfast if your fasting insulin levels remain normal.
2 Optimise your vitamin D levels: Arterial stiffness (atherosclerosis) is a driving factor for high blood pressure. As your blood travels from your heart, cells in the wall of your aorta, called baroreceptors, sense the pressure load, and signal your nervous system to either raise or lower the pressure.
However, the stiffer your arteries are, the more insensitive your baroreceptors become, and the less efficient they become at sending the appropriate signals. Vitamin D deficiency is, in turn, linked to stiff arteries, which is why optimising your levels is so important.
3 Address your stress: The link between stress and hypertension is well documented. Suppressed negative emotions such as fear, anger, and sadness can severely limit your ability to cope with the unavoidable every day stresses of life. It’s not the stressful events themselves that are harmful, but your lack of ability to cope.
4 Normalise your omega 6:3 ratio: Most Americans get too much omega-6 in their diet and far too little omega-3. Consuming omega-3 fats will help re-sensitise your insulin receptors if you suffer from insulin resistance. Omega-6 fats are found in corn, soy, canola, safflower, and sunflower oil. If you’re consuming a lot of these oils, you’ll want to avoid or limit them.
For omega-3s, your best bet is to find a safe source of fish, or if this proves too difficult or expensive, supplement with a high-quality krill oil, which has been found to be 48 times more potent than fish oil.
5 Optimise your gut flora: Compared to a placebo, people with high blood pressure who consumed probiotics lowered systolic blood pressure (the top number) by 3.56 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) by 2.38 mm Hg.12
The best way to optimize your gut flora is by avoiding sugar and processed foods and including naturally fermented foods in your diet, which may contain about 100 times the amount of bacteria in a bottle of high-potency probiotics.
Using fermented foods with a starter culture like Kinetic culture will also add therapeutic levels of important nutrients like vitamin K2.
6 Maintain an optimal sodium-potassium ratio: As mentioned, an imbalanced ratio may lead to hypertension. To ensure yours is optimal, ditch all processed foods, which are very high in processed salt and low in potassium and other essential nutrients.
Instead, eat a diet of whole, unprocessed foods, ideally organically and locally-grown to ensure optimal nutrient content. This type of diet will naturally provide much larger amounts of potassium in relation to sodium.
7 Eliminate caffeine: The connection between coffee consumption and high blood pressure is not well understood, but there is ample evidence to indicate that if you have hypertension, coffee and other caffeinated drinks and foods can exacerbate your condition.
8 Include vitamins C and E: Studies indicate that vitamins C and E may be helpful in lowering blood pressure. If you are eating a whole food diet, you should be getting sufficient amounts of these nutrients through your diet alone.
If you decide you need a supplement, make sure to take a natural (not synthetic) form of vitamin E. You can tell what you are buying by carefully reading the label. Natural vitamin E is always listed as the “d-” form (d-alpha-tocopherol, d-beta-tocopherol, etc.) Synthetic vitamin E is listed as “dl-” forms.
9 Olive leaf extract: In one 2008 study, supplementing with 1,000 mg of olive leaf extract daily over eight weeks caused a significant dip in both blood pressure and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol in people with borderline hypertension.
If you want to incorporate olive leaves as a natural adjunct to a nutritionally sound diet, look for fresh leaf liquid extracts for maximum synergistic potency. You can also prepare your own olive leaf tea by placing a large teaspoon of dried olive leaves in a tea ball or herb sack. Place it in about two quarts of boiling water and let it steep for three to 10 minutes. The tea should be a medium amber colour when done.
10 Quick tricks: Increasing nitric oxide in your blood can open constricted blood vessels and lower your blood pressure. Methods for increasing the compound include taking a warm bath, breathing in and out through one nostril (close off the other nostril and your mouth), and eating bitter melon, rich in amino acids and vitamin C.
High blood pressure and oestrogen dominance are linked, as is an increase in weight at menopause. Progesterone can help you lose weight as it acts as as diuretic and that can help lower your blood pressure, as well as being protective of your heart.
Tackling hormone imbalance is a good place to start, and these articles will give you more help to do that.