3 Steps to Improve High BP and Cholesterol
These two cardiovascular diseases increase with ageing only in western society. It is very disturbing that children as young as 7 years old could be tested for these diseases which is now being suggested.
I recently attended a Naturopathy conference on Cardiovascular Healthcare. The speaker relayed the opening statement from an International Conference for Cardiologists, “diet and exercise are the number 1 solutions but we can’t suggest that…”. Society is now medicated with enzyme inhibitors, beta blockers, calcium blockers, diuretics and statins to mop up the symptoms of cardiovascular disease without ever being able to cure the dis-ease. Sadly all these medications come with significant side effects as outlined by doctor google for all those wishing to do some research. We are significantly to blame for this dilemma because we want the easiest quick fix in the hope of preventing early death. 50% of patients taking hypertensive medications still have uncontrolled blood pressure. The solution of medications are obviously (not) working because Cardiovascular Disease is still the leading cause of death, worldwide!
I may sound anti-medicine, definitely no, I just want to see a solution for a curable disease, not an endless need for pharmaceuticals until death. This means being proactive in our approach to cardiovascular healthcare. A side note: I offered personal training to a gastroenterologist several years back, he claimed if all his patients did what he was now doing regarding his dietary changes and regular exercise, it would reduce his surgery patient list by 50% easy. He then began to educate his team of young doctors, they followed him up and down the hospital stairs instead of using the elevator. I loved his feedback to my recommendations. Small steps can make some big health improvements.
According to endless research from the biomedical community, the four major risk factors [all of equal importance] are; being overweight, ageing, smoking and not exercising. A prescription of diet and exercise is all well and good but 90% of high blood pressure has no known cause. Therefore we must look at other reasons for hypertension. Environment, socio-economics and genetics are added to the mix but I believe emotional unhappiness or feeling unloved or lonely could be the missing link, especially as we age after 40 year milestone. The following outlines 3 practical solutions to consider.
STEP 1. Diet
Dietary measures may feel like a slow process to get results but over time the cardiovascular system will improve. You will be happily surprised to find other body systems benefit greatly from a dietary solution approach.
The Mediterranean diet
This diet has been on the radar of the medical community since the 1960s. A ten year study found that the Mediterranean diet reduced cardiovascular risk by 70%. This particular study ceased after only six years due to the dramatically obvious positive findings. The Mediterranean diet can get better results than Statin drugs.
In brief: Vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, potatoes, whole grains, breads, herbs, spices, olive oil, fish and seafood. In moderation; poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt and eat rarely (1/wk); red meat.
DASH (dietary approach to stop hypertension)
The DASH diet was founded by the National Institute of Health (USA) in 1990, so the medical community have known about this for a long time too. There are numerous studies that confirm the benefits of the DASH diet to lower both cholesterol and blood pressure.
In brief: Berries 50-100g/day, Cocoa 85% chocolate 20g/day, Green tea and Hibiscus tea ; several cups per day, Garlic crushed raw cloves 1-2/day, Beetroot juice (or supplement)/day, sunlight/day, Fibre – 30g/day eg milled linseed, Reduce salt to 3g/day and increase potassium.
Oats – Plant Based – Citrus : Researched studies
OATS : 1.5 cups of oats contains 3g of beta-glucans reduced LDL cholesterol between 4.8 to 6.5% and lowered blood sugars was the outcome of a large nutritional study.
PLANT BASED DIET : A 12 month dietary intervention trial of eating a plant based diet reduced LDL cholesterol by 13%.
CITRUS FRESH FRUIT JUICE : A study found that a supplementation of Naringin (citrus bioflavonoids) over an 8 week period reduced total cholesterol by 14% and LDL cholesterol by 17%. Naringin is found in many citrus fruits.
The beauty of herbal medicine is that the herbs work by supporting the healing process within each body system acting like a tonic to the targeted organs, without any negative side effects. Herbal medicine can work alongside mainstream medicine with an open communication between the doctor and the herbalist. Working together will enable a positive outcome by monitoring closely your progress. It is never recommended to go off mainstream medicine without professional supervision and guidance.
In China a Cardiologist ran a study administering 500mg of Berberine herb twice per day for 3 months. There was a total cholesterol reduction of 29%, triglycerides reduced by 35% and LDL cholesterol by 25%. A study of 8 days where cardiac patients were given 4g of curcuminoids (which is the active ingredient of Turmeric) per day prior to undergoing coronary bypass surgery. This measure reduced their heart attack incidence rate by 50%. Garlic is another wonderful herb that can reverse plaque build up in the arteries, reducing; cholesterol, aorta stiffness and plaque/platelet aggregation. Using herbs in your cooking is an easy way to get started.
STEP 2. Daily Exercise
30 minutes of daily exercise with 2 days of resistance training per week is the prescriptive guideline. Type of exercise is critical when it comes to hypertension. Endurance type exercises are best, ie walking, cycling and swimming. Weight training is good but keep weights lighter with high repetitions. Unfortunately those with a risk factor of hypertension are those with muscular structures, for example; rugby players, whereas those with a finer build, like a lean endurance runner will have a much lower risk to high blood pressure. Endurance exercise is one of the anti-ageing keys.
STEP 3. Live Life Well with your LOVE pump [self-love, give-love and allow-love]
The heart is our LOVE pump. The strong connection of how we care for ourselves [or not] will soon show signs in our physical body. The first step can be modifying your diet and exercise regimes, this gives self-love to oneself, a very positive approach to cardiovascular health.
Secondly, to give-love to others shows kindness ‘a gentle heart’ which will mirror back to you, making those giving moments of feeling worthwhile, which fills up your self-esteem cup. To allow-love from others is an ‘open-heart’ enables the comfort and peace of being loved for who you are.
Life happens and we do lose our fullness of LOVE many times over. Maybe a death, broken relationship, lost job, home or identity. This sadness is normal but prolonged will increase your risk of hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases. Being aware of how your LOVE pump is affected by your unhappiness or distress will empower you to take action when required.
If you would like to discuss your personal cardiovascular care plan, private consultations are available with Naturopath, Alison.