Hypertension and Diet - Discussion
What is the link between hypertension and diet?
Hypertension (high blood pressure) is quite prevalent in society today, and is clinically defined as blood pressure of 140/90 or higher (it is most desirable to have a blood pressure around 110/70).
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A note about Hypertension and Diet - Discussion
In natural health and healing, we believe in holistic health and healing, as we realize that different parts of the human body are highly interlinked, often beyond Man's understanding. We also believe that the body has the ability to heal itself of any disease, even supposedly incurable diseases.
In order to do so, the body needs the support of some basic dietary and lifestyle good health habits, such as a full body detox and a proper understanding and application of nutrition. No matter how remote or unrelated a health condition may seem, these fundamental health steps will greatly magnify the effects and benefits of any of our health-promoting efforts, including the use of specific natural health remedies.
As with most health problems, hypertension is highly associated with the elements of one's diet. One of the best (and little-known) ways to manage any illness is through diet and proper nutrition. Through making relatively small changes in one's diet, it is possible to lower one's risk of developing hypertension, or for those already diagnosed with the condition, to treat hypertension in a natural manner.
Sodium / Salt
One of the main contributors to the hypertension and diet link is excess sodium intake. Sodium has a diuretic effect on the body, and leads to vasoconstriction which is very closely related to an increase in blood pressure. Foods high in sodium also put added stress on the kidneys, which can quickly elevate the blood pressure.
Many people in America take in far more sodium than is recommended, and there is definite evidence correlating a higher incidence of hypertension with populations that have diets higher in sodium. Reducing sodium intake is as simple as developing a habit of reading the nutrition labels on food, which are required to list the food's sodium content in terms of weight and percentage of daily recommended intake.
Reading nutrition labels of many popular foods highlights the exorbitant amount of sodium that can be found in much of our food, and leaves little question as to why many people consume too much of it. Many companies now offer "low sodium" versions of their products, and simply making an effort to be aware of the sodium we are taking in can be instrumental in helping to reduce the excess sodium in our bodies.
The next point in our hypertension and diet discussion is potassium. A great natural way of balancing the issues that result in high blood pressure is by increasing potassium intake. The potassium ion is involved in many chemical reactions within the body. It helps to reduce the effects of dehydrating transport across cell membranes, and therefore contributes to the stability of the vascular system.
Moreover, foods high in potassium tend to be healthier foods, and therefore will not contribute negatively to the hypertension issue. Some foods high in potassium are avocados, bananas, potatoes, tomato juice, grapefruit juice, and acorn squash.
Calcium and Magnesium
Next up in the hypertension and diet discussion are calcium and magnesium. Foods high in calcium and magnesium have been shown to lower blood pressure in clinical trials. Including more of these foods in one's diet can help to heal the issues that underlie hypertension.
Some good sources of calcium are: green beans, broccoli, spinach, tofu, and reduced-fat milk; magnesium-rich foods include legumes and seeds.
It is important to note that taking dietary supplements of these nutrients will not be as helpful as including them in your diet, as research has questioned the body's ability to absorb nutrients in pill form, and it is important in natural healing to adopt a balance in all things. Therefore, nutritional supplements do not take the place of a nutritious diet.
In discussing high blood pressure / hypertension and diet, it is impossible to ignore the overall physiology of the cardiovascular system, and the role of fat in cardiovascular problems. Indeed, fats play a big part in the hypertension and diet equation.
Hypertension tends to occur in people who are likely to have arteriolar issues due to excess saturated fat intake over a number of years. It is essential that anyone with hypertension lower their saturated fat intake, as it increases "bad cholesterol" (LDL, low density lipoproteins) which causes arteriosclerosis by building up on arterial walls. The resultant lack of elasticity causes a rise in blood pressure. Being sure to take in a minimal amount of saturated fat is important for everyone, but absolutely necessary for those struggling with high blood pressure.
Overall Diet and Hypertension
Along with the notions of increasing/decreasing particular elements of one's diet, altering one's overall diet is a wonderful way of naturally reducing or controlling blood pressure. A research study conducted by Harvard University found that a few simple changes can markedly affect blood pressure.
What are these changes which can positively affect the hypertension and diet connection?
Increasing intake of fruits and vegetables is a major component of nutritional management of blood pressure, as these foods provide high levels of the positive nutrients mentioned, as well as fiber and little to no fat. The Harvard study also recommended that meat should be treated as one part of the whole meal, and that the meal should center around carbohydrates (rice, beans, pasta, or vegetables).
The link between hypertension and diet is irrefutable. Generally speaking, making small changes to one's diet is one of the best ways of dealing with something as unspecified in origin as hypertension, and natural treatment of the condition addresses that which contributes to high blood pressure, rather than "putting a band-aid on the condition via medication.
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