Blood Pressure: Controlling it the Natural Way
Hypertension: Silent Killer
The medical community issues regular advisories or warnings about hypertension, also known as high blood pressure. The reason for these warnings is because it has earned the infamous reputation of being the silent killer. There are usually no warning signs or symptoms, even when it reaches unusually high levels. Many people don't realize there are actually natural remedies to maintain normal blood pressure. One of these for example, is Metagenics Vasotensin.
When high blood pressure is not controlled, the danger of heart disease lurks. The risks for a stroke also increase. Ironically, the incidence of heart disease bears a direct correlation to where you live. One would think that the prevalence of heart disease is less pronounced in advanced and industrialized societies, thanks to medical progress. Not so. More than 90% of people who live in developed countries are at serious risk of developing hypertension. This was what the British journal, Lancet, reported in 2007.
It is encouraging to note, however, that a significant number of people who have been diagnosed with hypertension - more specifically 85% of them - can control their blood sugar simply by altering their lifestyle; i.e. throwing away bad habits (junk food and sedentary living) and adopting more beneficial ways that can regularize blood pressure levels. Lifestyle changes take precedence over prescription medication; the reason being that people who are prescribed medication and take them regularly are, surprisingly, still suffering from hypertension and seem unable to put an end to their high blood pressure problems.
What does this tell us? The clear message is that there's a strong likelihood that prescription medications are not the only solution. There are other ways of controlling high blood pressure - ways that can help us avoid serious heart disease. More and more people are also wary of the more popular medications prescribed for lowering blood pressure because of potential side effects and controversy surrounding their use.
Vitamin C and Blood Pressure
Clinical tests have established a link between Vitamin C and blood pressure.
First, Vitamin C has been identified as a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants fight free radicals that inflict damage on our cellular functions. One specific way that antioxidants help stabilize cell activity is by promoting a reduction in blood pressure through the maintenance of nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide is known for counteracting constricted blood vessels.
Studies show that young women in particular benefit from taking Vitamin C. Two hundred fifty women (250) were monitored over a 10-year period. When they were first recruited for the study, they ranged in age between 8 and 11. Two components were closely monitored for the next 10 years: (a) levels of ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) in their bodies and (b) their blood pressure. What was discovered was that there was a relationship between their blood pressure readings - both systolic and diastolic - and their ascorbic acid levels. Taking a chewable vitamin C supplement such as DaVinci Chewable C 300 (natural cherry flavor) can help assure you are getting adequate levels of vitamin C.
Just a brief word about systolic and diastolic readings: when blood pressure is normal, the systolic reading is less than 140. Systolic represents the amount of pressure while the heart is beating. A normal diastolic reading is below 80 and this represents the amount of pressure when the heart is at rest in between beats. So when the doctor says, "your blood pressure is 120/80", it means your systolic reading is 120 while your diastolic reading is 80. This is the health range. Any reading above 120 (for systolic) and 80 (for diastolic) needs to be closely monitored.
Second, sufficient amounts of Vitamin C in the diet can increase one's resistance to the ravaging damage caused by free radicals. Vitamin C makes it possible for other antioxidants to do their work efficiently. For example, Vitamin C boosts catechins, natural antioxidants found in green tea. Health professionals recommend green tea to patients diagnosed with heart problems because it is said to enhance the flow of blood and aids in stabilizing arteries. When catechins are taken jointly with natural sources of Vitamin C such as citrus fruits and juices, the catechins increase in number, providing your body with more ammunition against free radicals.
A Word about Beta Blockers
The side effects of various heart medications were mentioned earlier. We can't underestimate the contribution of Vitamin C to lowering blood pressure. It may be unimaginable for something as natural as ascorbic acid to be a valuable aid for stabilizing blood pressure, but it does make us think that safer alternatives to beta-blockers are certainly worth considering.
Beta blockers, as you know, are a group of drugs that are frequently prescribed to patients with:
- irregular heartbeats or abnormal electrical activity in the heart (cardiac arrhythmias),
- a history of heart attacks and need protection from future attacks, and
- high blood pressure (hypertension).
While beta-blockers target heart problems, they also produce the tendency in some patients to develop type 2 diabetes. This is because beta-blockers tend to reduce sensitivity to insulin. So these medications may actually lead to the very problems you're trying to prevent.
A common advice from health experts is to increase your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables; a nutritionist can recommend appropriate portions based on your dietary requirements. If you wish to incorporate Vitamin C into your daily meals, ensure that you take it at least three times a day (say a 250-500 mg tablet or capsule).
Insulin: a Key Component of Blood Pressure Control
Findings indicate that about 2/3 of people with poor insulin activity also exhibit symptoms of high blood pressure. This is another piece of evidence that insulin and high blood pressure can have negative consequences on our health; the combination of uncontrolled insulin and blood sugar levels and leptin can trigger abnormal functions in organs and tissues.
High glucose (blood sugar) can also potentially increase one's risks of a heart attack. If your doctor says you have hypertension, there's a strong chance that he will want to check your blood sugar level as well. The sooner you do something about your blood sugar, the quicker you regularize your blood pressure.
Safer and Natural Ways to Control Blood Pressure
Some people who take Vitamin C can't digest it as well as others and so may experience loose bowel movement. If this happens, decrease the amount of Vitamin C.
Vitamin C is not the only way to help regulate your blood pressure. There are supplements that contain the nutrients you need to help fight hypertension. These supplements are not the "cure-all"; it would be wrong to think that they will make your high blood pressure go away overnight. You must think of them as an "added layer of protection" as you transition into recovery.
Improving your diet is one of many effective ways to control your insulin which in turn can bring back your blood pressure into a healthier systolic/diastolic range.
Here are other safe and natural measures you can adopt:
- Scale back on your sugar and grain intake - in 75% of cases, people who reduce or remove sugar from their diets find that their blood pressure is easier to control;
- Say no to caffeine more often - or at least reduce the amounts you take;
- Incorporate sources of omega-3 into your diet. Eat salmon, take fish oil or krill at least once a week;
- Increase your supply of Vitamin D by taking in a bit of sun. Follow safe sun guidelines (before 10 in the morning and after 4 in the afternoon). A lack of Vitamin D could stimulate the production of the parathyroid hormone which can make it difficult to stabilize blood pressure;
- Avoid a sedentary lifestyle. Get out of that couch and engage in regular and strenuous physical exercise (with supervision from your doctor if you haven't exercised before)
- Increase your intake of Magnesium
- Get plenty of sleep, rest and relaxation
Natural Remedies to Consider
If you find that you don't react favorably to Vitamin C, there are natural supplements for you to consider. We have a couple of recommendations:
- Grape Seed Extract - considered a potent and effective antioxidant, this plant has the ability to reduce blood pressure by an average 8-12 millimeters. Note that grape seed is a rich concentrated source of polyphenols; most of these polyphenols in grape seed are called proanthocyanidins. Reports are that the strength of proanthocyanidins is about 20 times more than that of Vitamin C and 50 times more than that of Vitamin E. Red wine for example is known for its proanthocyanidins.
- Olive Leaf Extract - if taken in 1,000 mg daily, this supplement can help bring down blood pressure levels as well as decrease the amount of LDL (bad) cholesterol. One of the active ingredients of olive leaf extract is oleuropein, another powerful antioxidant that contributes towards healthier blood vessels. Oleuropein, taken from the roots and bark of the olive tree, is a strong substance that fights bacteria and other elements and is known to help reduce the symptoms of fatigue, yeast and bacterial infections, and also acts as a detoxifying aid for cells.