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| Blood pressure measurements determine the power that the heart uses to pump blood around your body. There are two readings – systolic and diastolic. Systolic measures the pressure when your heart is pushing blood out into the arteries. Diastolic measures the same pressure but between beats when your heart is at rest.
A normal reading would be 120 systolic over 80 diastolic. You have elevated blood pressure if your reading is between 120 and 129 systolic and below 80 diastolic. High blood pressure ranges from 130 systolic or above and over 80 diastolic. Blood pressure can vary naturally during the day.
High blood pressure becomes a problem when it occurs chronically even when you are at rest. It can mean there is an underlying health issue such as coronary heart disease that requires medical attention. Reducing blood pressure also protects the arteries and prevents them from being damaged.
Hypertension and poorly controlled blood pressure damages the kidneys and vascular networks resulting in heart attacks, stroke and kidney failure. More than 1,000 deaths are attributed to high blood pressure in the U.S. every day. Lifestyle induced oxidative stress is a major culprit in this process.
Low-grade, chronic inflammation is systemic and can last for months or years. This inflammatory state is associated with a wide range of health conditions, including metabolic syndrome, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cancer, Alzheimer’s and heart disease. Inflammatory mediators are produced throughout the body and can overwhelm the immune system. The ongoing inflammatory stimulus results in more white blood cell recruitment, increased inflammation and changes to cells. White blood cells will eventually attack internal organs or other tissues and cells.
When oxidative stress is elevated, it can cause the angiotensinogen glycoprotein to convert to angiotensin. The hormone angiotensin causes sodium retention and vascular constriction. This “oxidative switch” floods the system with angiotensin and dramatically affects blood pressure balance. Medications are great at lowering blood pressure. However, these medications never address the oxidative stress and therefore never get to the true underlying cause of the problem.
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. Studies have shown that lifestyle changes alone can reduce risk of heart disease by 90 percent. 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.
The best defense against the oxidative switch begins with a diet rich in phytonutrient dense vegetables, healthy fat and clean protein sources. Non-starchy vegetables, herbs and teas are great sources of antioxidants and have very low carbohydrate content. Healthy fat sources include coconut products, avocados, olive oil, nuts, seeds and purified omega-3 fish oil supplements. Healthy protein includes wild-caught fish, grass-fed red meat and free range chicken, turkey and eggs.
Some other things to consider include:
Support Glutathione Levels: A very useful superfood is non-denatured whey protein from cows and goats that grazed on organic grass alone.
Berries and Fruit Extracts: These contain powerful anti-hypertensive effects. Grapes contain the polyphenol resveratrol that protects the blood vessel walls and improves the way these cells respond to metabolic shifts that affect blood pressure.
Pomegranate Extract: This is rich in some of nature’s most powerful polyphenols. It has also been shown effective in blocking inflammatory damage induced by angiotensin in key tissues involved in blood pressure control.
You can improve your circulation by including the following:
Magnesium: This can be used to lower blood pressure as it has vasodilating effects that can lower blood pressure by relaxing your blood vessels.
Consume Trace Mineral Rich Foods: Potassium helps lower blood pressure naturally. The best foods include lemons, limes, avocados, dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach and mushrooms.
Supplement With Omega 3’s: The long-chain omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA help to reduce vascular inflammation and improve the elasticity of the blood vessels and stabilize blood pressure. Consume grass-fed meat, grass-fed butter, wild-caught fish and spirulina to get it in your diet.
Optimize Vitamin D Levels: Research has shown that vitamin D deficiency may increase your risk of cardiovascular problems including hypertension. Besides getting some sunshine, you can eat oysters, yogurt, liver, egg yolk and spinach.
Improve Your Mitochondria: The mitochondria are the energy powerhouses of every cell. Support your mitochondria with clinical doses of CoQ10, L-carnitine, N-acetyl cysteine, creatine, monohydrate, B vitamins, magnesium, alpha lipoic acid and D-ribose.
Power Up Your Nrf2 Pathway: This has been researched to be a key player in the development or prevention of neurodegeneration and autoimmune activity. Addin in clinical doses of resveratrol, curcumin, quercetin, sulforaphane and Green tee can be extraordinarily beneficial for driving up the Nrf2 Pathway.
Regular Movement and Exercise: This is essential for your circulation, blood pressure and overall health. Try to exercise at least 20 minutes a day, five times a week.
Intermittent Fasting: One of the most popular intermittent fasting methods is the 16:8 approach, which includes a 16-hour fast (including your overnight sleep) and an 8-hour eating window with two or three meals.
Reduce Stress: Find ways to reduce stressful activities and enjoy more peace and calm.
Ground Your Body: Go outside and walk barefoot on grass, dirt or sand every day to absorb natural EMFs from the ground to balance your electrical rhythms.
Improve Your Sleep: Develop a regular schedule going to bed and getting up at the same time every day to support your circadian rhythms.
Focus on Deep Breathing: The better we breathe, the better we will heal and the more blood flow and oxygen we will get into the tissues and the better our mitochondria will function.