High blood pressure is one of the diseases that resulted from the typical modern Western diet and a sedentary and highly stressful lifestyle. High blood pressure, known medically as “hypertension” has become almost an epidemic. It affects more than 1 in 5 Canadians and 1 in 3 Americans aged 20 years and older.
Hypertension is referred to as the “silent killer” because you can have it for years without knowing it. It is a disease that usually has no symptoms or warning signs until serious complications develop, such as heart attack or stroke.
What are the warning signs of high blood pressure or hypertension?
High blood pressure or hypertension occurs when the pressure in your blood vessels is elevated. The warning signs associated with advanced hypertension include headaches, sweating, rapid pulse, shortness of breath, dizziness and visual disturbances. It is important to report any of these signs to your doctor immediately as this can be life saving for you.
What are the causes of high blood pressure or hypertension?
High blood pressure is usually divided into two categories, primary and secondary. Primary hypertension is high blood pressure that is not caused by an underlying disease. This is the case in 90 to 95% of the people where high blood pressure tends to develop gradually over many years.
Underlying risk factors include smoking, stress, obesity, poor nutrition habits, too little physical exercise, excessive use of stimulants such as coffee or tea and a family history of hypertension.
When persistently elevated blood pressure arises as a result of an underlying health problem, this is referred to as secondary hypertension. This accounts for only 5 to 10 percent of cases and can be caused by kidney or adrenal diseases or heart defects as well as certain medications.
What does the numbers mean?
It is recommended to get your blood pressure checked annually beginning at the age of 18-especially if you have family history of hypertension-to avoid unwanted complications of high blood pressure. The two numbers taken when your blood pressure is measured are the systolic and diastolic pressure.
Systolic is the top number and is the pressure when your heart contracts and pushes blood throughout the body. Diastolic is the bottom number and is the pressure when the heart relaxes between beats.
- Normal blood pressure: lower than 120 (systolic) over lower than 80 (diastolic)-Lower than 120/80
- Pre-hypertension: 120-139/80-89
- Stage 1 hypertension: 140-159/90-99
- Stage 2 hypertension: 160/100 or higher
A holistic nutrition approach to high blood pressure or hypertension?
Volumes of scientific research show that a holistic nutrition approach that comprises dietary and lifestyle changes can prevent or eliminate high blood pressure in most patients. High blood pressure is typically a lifestyle disease in which poor nutrition, obesity, lack of activity, smoking, stress, poor sleep act as high risk factors for its development.
The modern diet is loaded with too much saturated fats, trans-fats, overly salted processed refined foods, excess sugar and insufficient fiber intake. Foods such as red meat, shortening, margarine, refined sugar, diet foods and commercial table salt should all be avoided.
Commercially prepared processed foods are poison for those suffering from hypertension. They often contain preservatives, MSG (monosodium glutamate), meat tenderizers and sugar substitutes as aspartame which can cause cells to swell interfering with the elimination of fluid from the body in addition to other side effects.
Proper nutrition is the first and most important step to reverse your hypertension. Shifting to a whole foods, high fiber diet with plenty of fresh raw vegetables and fruits as well as good fats from nuts and seeds is essential to control high blood pressure.
In part 2 of “A holistic Approach to High Blood Pressure”, I will discuss the relation between high blood pressure and sodium, obesity, stress and exercise and what you can do about each of them.
If you know a family member or friend who struggle with high blood pressure or hypertension, please share this link with them so that they can benefit from this information and get the help they need.
If you need help with your health and nutrition, CALL Healthy U Turn at 416 876 4634 to book an appointment OR Sign up for a FREE Clarity Session with holistic nutritionist, Dr Maha Nasr to discuss your health concerns and learn more about how we can help.