When Jim LaValle was my guest on the show 6/29/19, I took notes! Here is a brief review of the blood pressure discussion plus some extras from my files. Husband Bill while proofreading said this is too much information. Maybe. But, people who have tried a number of things, may need to know what else might help. And, keep in mind that lowering BP is not always better, especially doing so with drugs in seniors. This study shows that the risk of dementia can increase when elders blood pressure is forced into the so-called “ideal range”.
Why high blood pressure should be remedied—Jim said that BP above the recommended 120 over 80 can lead to stroke, heart attack, heart failure, kidneys and damage to the brain. The problem seems worse for women and blacks. Note that most people cannot tell if their blood pressure is elevated. We are in favor of knowing what your blood pressure is and, if it is high, finding and fixing the cause. Excessively low blood pressure is not good either. That can cause falls and brain function problems.
What drives blood pressure up? Age, smoking, medications (e.g. NSAIDS and even nasal sprays), sleep apnea, stress, gum disease, and lead toxicity. Massive salt intake is probably not good for anyone and those who crave it might be low in nutritional minerals. However, only a relatively small percentage of the population has blood pressure that is salt-sensitive. (Jim said that those who are salt sensitive should check on their adrenal function.) He says metabolic inflammation is a factor.
Why drugs shouldn’t be the first choice—Some types of drugs interfere with vitamin C, zinc and magnesium with unpleasant results. (FYI magnesium is nature’s calcium channel blocker.) Drug side effects can include cough, falls, joint pain, allergic swelling, rash, shortness of breath, hair falling out, insomnia, erectile dysfunction, cold hands and feet, worsening insulin resistance, reduction in testosterone, hormone changes for women, immune challenges, diarrhea, weakness, fatigue, depression, sexual dysfunction and increased breast cancer risk. Mr. LaValle said that low dose angiotensin receptor blockers (ARB’s) might not be so bad.
Lifestyle improvements that will help lower blood pressure—Weight loss, lowering insulin and insulin resistance are major and those are achieved by eating fewer simple carbs. Quick digesting carbs make insulin go up. Then we make more adrenaline which in turn contracts blood vessels making pressure go up. Insulin is also inflammatory and uses up antioxidants. Insulin resistance damages kidneys which raises blood pressure. Exercise may be as effective as medication at lowering blood pressure. Jim suggested what the Cooper Clinic recommended, 150 minutes of exercise a week. Also helpful: ceasing smoking, moderating alcohol consumption, taking anger / stress management training, getting more sleep and petting a dog.
Specific foods and diet changes that help—I found articles in my pudgy blood pressure file saying that all of these items lower blood pressure: avocados, beans, beets, blueberries, brown rice, celery, chocolate, egg whites, garlic, grapefruit, grapes, green tea, hibiscus tea, Italian cheese, leafy greens (more magnesium in the darker ones), nuts, olive oil, pomegranate, protein, tomato, watermelon, and whole grains. You will notice that these are all real whole foods and that the list does NOT include pasta, cake, cookies, Cheetos, bagels, Dr. Pepper, etc. In fact, reducing intake of sugar and starch is a big help. Mr. LaValle said he believes that the “DASH” diet recommended by the American Heart Association and even the Mediterranean diet both contain too many refined carbohydrates. His advice = eat more plant foods. See additional discussion of diets at the bottom under “Genetics”. You might be surprised to learn that your intestinal bacteria play an important role in controlling blood pressure. Read more.
Natural remedies—We discussed Kyolic Formula #109 at some length because multiple human studies show that the main ingredient, Aged Garlic Extract (AGE), lowers blood pressure. It makes arteries less inflamed and more flexible; reduces plaque formation; reduces oxidized LDL (the form that annoys arteries); and even reduces gum disease which is a cardio risk factor. Other related benefits are an improvement in the nervous system and reduction of general inflammation that affects all parts of the body including the brain.
The formula also features the extract of fermented soy, nattokinase, which helps blood to be less sticky and is a rich source of vitamin K2 (which as we’ve discussed helps keep calcium in the bones rather than the arteries). The formula helps blood vessels to be more flexible and the calming amino acid theanine in it blocks the excitotoxin glutamate which tightens blood vessels.
Both Jim and I are big fans of magnesium which is not only good for blood pressure study but also metabolic syndrome and hundreds of other things. These things are also noted for a positive impact on blood pressure: zinc (Bill Sardi’s 12/2/17 radio interview and his very interesting article), potassium, fish oil, vitamins B6, C, and D (review of several studies), probiotics (Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics of course), CoQ10, tocotrienols, alpha lipoic acid, pycnogenol, l-Carnitine, carotenoids, fiber, resveratrol, Hawthorne, olive leaf, and many other herbs.
Genetics—Eating habits are often passed from one generation to the next, but genetics are also a factor. Jim LaValle mentioned the APOE 3 and 4 genes in connection with a lowered ability to deal with saturated fats. A listener wrote saying that she has that gene and eating the paleo diet with its higher fats sent her LDL cholesterol “through the roof”. When she started eating the Mediterranean, the LDL’s became normal and she feels better. The low carb diet even made her HbA1c (long term measure of blood sugar) go up. Good carbs (e.g. vegetables, fruits & whole grains) work best for her. Some people do well as vegetarians. I’m not one of them. Testing the diets may be more meaningful and cheaper than testing the genes. I’ve asked an expert to be on the radio show soon. Bottom line on diet: everyone needs vegetables, no one needs sugar and refined starch.