It isn’t a surprise that our North American lifestyle is a killer for our heart. Let’s take a look at hypertension which has been called the ‘silent killer’ since many have high blood pressure but are unaware (symptoms only become noticeable once complications have developed).
Here are the factors and conditions that may play a role in the development of hypertension.
- Being overweight
- Too much salt in the diet
- Nutrient deficiencies of potassium, calcium and magnesium
- Too much alcohol consumption (more than 1 – 2 drinks per day)
- Lack of physical activity
- Genetics, age and race
- Family history of high blood pressure
Once discovered, many can take control of their hypertension! Studies show that 6 months of lifestyle changes can be as effective as medicine in mild to moderate hypertension – no negative side effects! Note that this will only work if your hypertension is not due to another condition such as kidney disease, adrenal or thyroid disorders.
So give lifestyle changes a try.
- Eat a low sodium diet as salt promotes fluid retention. Your largest source of sodium is processed foods, restaurant meals and take-out.
The link between salt and high blood pressure is especially compelling. People living on the northern islands of Japan eat more salt per capita than anyone else in the world and have the highest incidence of essential hypertension. And it has been shown the majority of people with high blood pressure are ‘salt sensitive’ meaning that anything more than the minimal bodily need for salt is too much for them and increases their blood pressure.
- Address nutrient deficiencies, dairy (yogurt is best) is a good source of potassium and calcium. Some non-dairy sources of calcium are almonds, salmon (with bones), sardines, kale and broccoli. Potassium which helps the body balance salt and fluids as well as maintains correct vessel wall tone is also found in prunes, apricots, avocado, spinach and Swiss chard. Magnesium also for vessel wall tone is found in almonds, cashews and whole grains.
- Other foods to include in your diet are essential fatty acids for circulation and to lower blood pressure (fatty fish), lots of garlic (lowers blood pressure), and beets. The nitrates in beets when juiced in a green drink are proving beneficial, even after just one drink.
- Take a Coenzyme Q10 supplement to improve heart function.
- Address STRESS and LACK OF ACTIVITY (such a problem in our North American society). Balance is key, do less but move more. Makes sense right!
- Lose weight, not a problem now that you are eating better and moving more.
Now go back to your doctor and impress him/her with your accomplishments!