High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. In the US, approximately one in three adults has high blood pressure, totaling more than 72 million people. Additionally, more than half of Americans over the age of 60 have hypertension. Blood pressure medications have helped a lot of people reduce a condition that can damage their cardiovascular systems. However, recent research has also shown that these medications can have serious health consequences; this post will explore alternative, natural ways you can use to help lower your blood pressure and support your overall health.Blood pressure medications, diabetes and cholesterol
Recent research indicates many high blood pressure medications may substantially increase your risk of diabetes as well as adversely affect your cholesterol levels. Take thiazide diuretics (also known as ‘water pills’), for example. Often considered the first choice drug for hypertension, not only do they disturb the balance of key electrolytes – including potassium, sodium and magnesium – they increase your risk of dehydration (which has a myriad of health consequences), as well as increase your risk of diabetes – by as much as 45 percent!
What’s worse, thiazide diuretics aren’t the only blood pressure drugs that studies have associated with this serious disease – calcium channel blockers (e.g., verapamil, nifedipine, etc.) and ACE inhibitors (e.g., enalapril, lisinopril, etc.) have also been shown to increase mean blood sugar levels within five years of use. Another long-term study showed that as many as 20.4 percent of patients treated with blood-pressure medications will develop diabetes – which in turn poses a greater risk of stroke, heart attack and death.
In addition to diabetes, anti-hypertensive medications are associated with adversely impacting cholesterol (blood lipid) profiles. Studies have shown that beta-blockers reduced the ratio of beneficial HDL to total cholesterol by nearly 12 percent and increased serum triglyceride levels by nearly 26 percent. Diuretics can cause an increase in total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels while beta-blockers can decrease HDL cholesterol and increase triglyceride levels. Some beta-blockers also have been found to decrease levels of CoQ10.
Furthermore, it has been shown that death caused by coronary artery disease and sudden death is not significantly reduced by the use of antihypertensive medications in hypertensive patients, despite the evidence that hypertension is a major risk factor for heart attacks. Some researchers suggest that this is due to the adverse metabolic effects caused by the drugs that counteract the benefits of lower blood pressure.
Natural Approaches for Lowering Blood Pressure
Hypertension can have serious consequences and patients should never stop taking their blood-pressure lowering drugs without a doctor’s guidance. However, for individuals who want to explore other options, there are a number of natural approaches.
There are a number of simple dietary measures that have been shown to significantly decrease blood pressure. British researchers have discovered that drinking two cups of beet juice daily can decrease blood pressure 10 points. That’s because beets are loaded with the nutrient nitrate. The body can use Spinach, lettuce, and other green, leafy vegetables also have high levels of nitrate, so eating and juicing these daily can provide significant blood lowering benefits.
Antioxidants have also shown significant benefits. A Finnish study has found that eating just ½ cup of berries twice daily can decrease blood pressure 7 points and increase HDL cholesterol. Berries contain particularly high levels of antioxidants known as polyphenols; other polyphenol-rich foods include chocolate, tea, and red wine, which also have been linked to lower heart disease risk.
Vasotensin provides peptides from bonito fish (related to tuna and mackerel) that have demonstrated significant blood lowering effects due to angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibition. In fact, the bonito peptides in Vasotensin are the strongest commercially available natural ACE inhibitors ever reported. Clinical research suggests that bonito peptides are approximately 64% effective in reducing blood pressure (compared with approximately 50% for drug treatments) with no known side effects.
Nattokinase is an enzyme derived from a fermented bean called natto, and has been shown to be effective in dissolving blood clots, preventing plaque build-up and lower blood pressure. Nattokinase helps dissolve fibrin, which is a protein in the blood that decreases blood flow and causes blood clots. In addition, researchers have confirmed the presence of ACE inhibitors in Nattokinase and demonstrated an approximate 10 percent reduction in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure with regular use.
High dose EPA and DHA fish oils have also demonstrated significant reductions in blood pressure. Orthomega is a great source of purified, high-potency fish oil, containing therapeutic amounts of EPA and DHA in 2 softgels 2-3x/day (with meals).
In addition, many lifestyle factors can significantly reduce blood pressure, including smoking cessation, increased exercise and weight reduction. If you would like assistance with weight reduction, our Online Optimal Body Balance program can help you uncover the reasons why weight loss or maintenance may be difficult for you and help you address these areas to help you attain and maintain your weight goals.
You can reduce your blood pressure and improve your overall health by following this simple plan. If we can be of further service, don’t hesitate to contact us.
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