Lower Blood Pressure Without Drugs – 4 Common Myths
Lower Blood Pressure :
Low blood pressure without medication? In the “good old days” most people would not have given it much thought. They just took the meds prescribed by the doctors and got their lives back on track. The side effects and unknown risks were simply a necessary evil: “better than the alternative” in other words.
But today, people are increasingly questioning their doctors and looking for alternative ways to take care of their health without drugs. Hypertension drugs are a particularly nasty group in terms of unforeseen side effects and health risks. Some experts believe that the drugs kill as many people as the condition for which they were prescribed.
So it’s no surprise that there is a huge market for natural blood pressure remedies and these are a hot topic in health forums. This creates a rich field for the spread of disinformation. It is therefore not surprising that a number of myths have developed around the topic of hypertension and natural remedies for it. Here are the four most common:
1. Some “superfoods” have the ability to lower blood pressure.
The medicinal effects of various foods have a long history and are very appealing to those looking for simple and natural solutions to their health problems. The list of foods that lower blood pressure is long and varied and includes apple cider vinegar, chocolate, grapes, grapefruit, celery root, bananas, beet juice, and many more.
The claims are generally based on anecdotal evidence, although some of it has shown some ability to lower blood pressure during testing. Beet juice is a recent, widely publicized example. But when studied over time and in detail, the results seem less exciting.
In some cases the reductions achieved are short-lived, while in others the expense or volumes of food required are insensitive. Whatever the deficiencies, these foods are just not practical remedies for blood pressure. Imagine the “miracle menu” that would occur if these superfoods actually worked to lower high blood pressure!
Think about diet, not food, to lower your blood pressure!
The only thing in terms of nutrition that is a real path to healthy blood pressure is diet, as opposed to specific foods. The DASH diet, in fact, as the name suggests (Diet Approaches to Stop Hypertension), is the “official” dietary guide to lowering blood pressure.
However, even DASH focuses too much on specific foods and food groups, emphasizing good over bad. But the most sensible dietary approach to stopping high blood pressure is much simpler: Eat a varied and balanced diet, rich in whole, natural foods.
There are no good or bad foods; all contribute to our health when consumed in the right balance. But this applies to “real” foods. The only type of food that is sure to put your body out of balance is processed food.
Many processed foods to watch out for are those that are high in sugar, fat, or salt. But also beware of processed foods, which are often presented under the guise of “healthy alternatives”. This includes margarine, eggs, and milk substitutes, as well as many low-fat products that replace natural fats and oils with starchy or unnatural ingredients. The genuine, in reasonable quantities, is almost always healthier.
2. Salt is the number 1 public enemy of healthy blood pressure.
More than any other food, salt has been demonized to increase blood pressure. Of course, salt or sodium can be harmful when eaten in excess, as many people do when they sprinkle it without thinking about every dish of food. But this is true for any substance that we consume. One of the basic tenets of toxicology is that “the dose produces poison”.
But the salt ban goes too far when used to promote “little or no salt” foods and weird “salt substitutes” that are harmful in themselves. Sodium, along with magnesium, calcium and potassium plays an important role in regulating blood pressure Healthy sodium levels are just as important as other levels. But when the levels of these minerals are out of balance, the blood chemistry is out of balance, which increases blood pressure.
The problem is that processed foods are usually high in sodium and low in other minerals.. So it is not the sodium itself that is responsible for the increase in blood pressure, but rather a mineral imbalance that results from a diet poor and rich in processed foods.
The cure is, again, a diet low in processed foods and high in whole, natural foods with a healthy balance of minerals. With this type of diet, low sodium products and salt substitutes are rarely needed. Used in moderation, salt adds some flavor to light foods and is an important part of a healthy diet.
3. Lifestyle changes take forever to make a difference in blood pressure
This common myth does a disservice in discouraging people from making healthy lifestyle changes. In addition, it reinforces the common belief among doctors that patients will not improve their lifestyle and therefore increases the number of automatic prescriptions.
In fact, losing a lot of weight is one of the only major lifestyle changes that can be called laziness. Obviously, the time and effort invested is worth the wait. While a major weight change can take a year or more, the benefits last a lifetime.
But just about everything else – quitting smoking, drinking less alcohol, eating better, sleeping more, relaxing – can be accomplished quickly, with equally rapid effects on blood pressure. Lowers in blood pressure and other circulatory improvements, for example, begin within hours of smoking the last cigarette. This can be one of the hardest addictions to overcome, but most experts agree that attacking with 100% resolution is the most effective route.
High blood pressure is often linked to stress, but it decreases quickly and significantly when you are relaxed. Effective stress management and plenty of relaxation, like most lifestyle changes, pay off immediately.
Exercising is a challenge for many people, especially when the distance between their current sadness and fitness can seem too great. But researchers can measure important physiological changes from the first example of sustained exercise. These changes include a drop in blood pressure (after the initial peak drops!)
Slow breathing is an easier lifestyle technique that has a noticeable effect on high blood pressure. Blood pressure begins to drop with the first slow, relaxed breath and has been shown to drop 36 systolic points and 20 or more diastolic points after 15 minutes of slow breathing.
More surprisingly, the benefits of slow breathing are cumulative and often lead to significant and lasting reductions in blood pressure within just a few weeks.
When something as mild as slow breathing can bring almost instantaneous benefits to your blood pressure, there’s no excuse not to work with this and other lifestyle changes. Go ahead and prove your doctor wrong!
4. Hypertension medications are lifelong
This is another dead end myth that does real damage by preventing you from improving your quality of life. Many doctors even say this, scaring you and making sure you are addicted for life. “It’s for your good”, of course!
It is important to stress that you should never change your dose or stop taking blood pressure medication without medical supervision. Our bodies adjust to the drugs we take, and any sudden drop in their levels has the potential for a disastrous rebound effect.
Some people with severe and chronic hypertension complicated by other health problems will still need medication. For them, it is really “better than the alternative”.
But that hasn’t stopped thousands of people from gradually and in a controlled manner withdrawing from hypertension medications using lifestyle changes and other natural methods. If you’re convinced you can do it, but your doctor isn’t backing you, you owe it to yourself to get a second opinion.
The answers to these four myths form a simple strategy:
- Eat healthy and use common sense …
- Don’t be fooled by trendy or taboo foods …
- Improve your lifestyle by starting, if necessary, with simple but quick methods such as slow breathing …
- And avoid, reduce, or even eliminate high blood pressure medications and their side effects.