Hypertension is such a common health problem that one out of three of you reading this has it, and uncontrolled hypertension is a serious health concern that can cause heart disease and increase your risk of having a stroke. It’s especially dangerous because it often has no warning signs or symptoms.
Many people confuse the term hypertension with being overly tense. This is a common misunderstanding. However, hypertension simply means that you have high blood pressure. And although tension and anxiety can be contributing factors, it is for the most part not the primary reason why people have high blood pressure.
Medical books will tell you that 95 percent of the causes of hypertension is idiopathic, meaning they don’t know what’s causing it. But that’s not true! We do know what the cause of hypertension is, which I will go over in just a moment.
Even better news: over 85 percent of those who have hypertension can normalize their blood pressure through lifestyle modifications.
It’s important to realize that drugs that treat hypertension will not change, modify, or in any way address the underlying cause of your high blood pressure. Additionally, statistics show that over half of people taking multiple medications for high blood pressure are still not able to manage their condition, so for many these drugs simply don’t work as promised.
What is High Blood Pressure?
You are generally diagnosed with pre-hypertension if your blood pressure is between 120/80 and 140/80, and anything above 140/80 is generally diagnosed as hypertension.
The first number is your systolic pressure, which should typically be below 120. The second number is your diastolic pressure, which should typically be below 80. If either your systolic or diastolic number is higher than the typical 120/80, you may get a diagnosis of hypertension, or pre-hypertension.
If you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure, you should know that a common risk factor for high blood pressure is weight. So if you’re obese that is going to increase your risk for developing high blood pressure.
However, it’s important to realize that your blood pressure reading may be inaccurate if you’re getting your pressure measured with an ill-fitting blood pressure cuff. Your blood pressure is measured by placing a cuff around your arm, and these cuffs are available in different sizes. So, if you are large, you will require a larger cuff in order to get an accurate reading. Likewise, a child’s blood pressure should be measured using a pediatric cuff.
What Causes High Blood Pressure?
For the most part, high blood pressure is related to your body producing too much insulin. As your insulin levels rise, it causes your blood pressure to increase. Research published in 1998 in the journal Diabetes reported that nearly two-thirds of the test subjects who were insulin resistant also had high blood pressure.
This crucial connection between insulin resistance and hypertension is yet another example of how wide-ranging the debilitating effects of high insulin, leptin and blood glucose levels can have on your body.
I highly recommend you get a fasting insulin level test done by your doctor. The level you want to strive for is about 2 or 3. If it’s 5, or over 10, you have a problem and you definitely need to lower your insulin levels to lower your risk of high blood pressure and other cardiovascular problems.
Fortunately, there are a few very simple techniques that will lower your insulin levels. And if your hypertension is the direct result of an out-of-control blood sugar level, then normalizing your blood sugar levels will also bring your blood pressure readings into the healthy range.
How to Effectively Treat High Blood Pressure Without Drugs
A vast majority of people can normalize their blood pressure by implementing a few simple techniques that address the underlying cause, namely high insulin levels.
Exercise – One of the most effective ways to lower your insulin levels is through exercise. A regular, effective exercise program consisting of aerobics, sprint-burst type exercises, and strength training, can go a long way toward reducing your insulin levels and your blood pressure.
Ideally, you’ll want someone to supervise your program and monitor your progress. To reap the optimal effects from your exercise program, you’ll need about an hour a day. Just remember to start slowly and work your way up to that level.
Avoid foods that boost insulin levels – Another effective method is to avoid foods that will raise your insulin, such as sugar-type foods and grains. Even whole, organic grains will rapidly break down to sugars, so they too should be avoided.
If you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or obesity, you’ll want to avoid foods like:
While vitamin C may be helpful, you'll also want to avoid eating too many fruits; the types and amounts being adjusted based on your nutritional type.
One food that can be helpful for reducing your blood pressure is crushed, raw garlic. Many people swear by it, and it's something you can easily add to your diet.
Normalize your vitamin D levels – It has recently become clear that normalizing your vitamin D levels can have a powerful effect on normalizing your blood pressure. Lower Vitamin D levels is also unquestionably associated with an increased risk for heart disease.
Additionally, previous research has revealed that if your blood pressure doesn’t drop notably overnight, you run an increased risk of having cardiovascular problems. Here, the connection is also elevated blood sugar (glucose) levels as elevated blood sugars can result in diabetes and other diseases which increase cardiovascular problems.
And likewise, vitamin D has been shown to have a positive impact on diabetes, so it’s all linked together.
Balance your omega-6 to omega-3 fat ratio – Most Americans eating a standard American diet have a ratio of 25:1, which is highly unbalanced. The ideal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats is 1:1. Therefore, you’ll want to lower the amount of vegetable oils in your diet, and make sure you have a high quality, animal-based source of omega-3s.
A Warning if You have Very High Blood Pressure, or are Currently on Medication for Hypertension
As most of you already know, I’m opposed to taking medications and drugs, and clearly the long term goal is to get off all your medications. However, if you are on a medication, you certainly want to wean yourself off it under the guidance of a healthcare professional.
Additionally, although I hardly ever recommend the use of drugs, it’s VITAL that you do go on a medication to lower your blood pressure if your blood pressure is very high! Otherwise you are putting yourself at serious risk of a stroke, and the brain damage that occurs during a stroke tends to be permanent and irreversible.
You clearly want to make sure you’re not increasing your risk for stroke until you’re able to implement these lifestyle changes. Once the cause of your problem has been addressed, then that will allow you to slowly wean off your medication.