Published On: Tue, Mar 7th, 2017

Rising Blood Pressure? Go Primal

The Mayo Clinic recently released an article on the topic of blood pressure. It wasn’t so much an article as an impassioned plea to the American public to change their lifestyles to bring the high blood pressure epidemic under control. Clinics like the Mayo Clinic and the Cleveland Clinic, as well as alternative centers like the Pritikin Center, have been imploring people to change their lifestyle habits since the 1970s when it was first realized that high blood pressure was a risk factor for heart disease.

The medical community tried to advocate for changes in people’s lifestyle but eventually decided en masse that this was too hard and so pushed blood pressure lowering drugs instead. The problem with the drugs, however, was that they weren’t particularly effective and didn’t make all that much difference to blood pressure levels in specific individuals.

The medical community tried to advocate for changes in people’s lifestyle but eventually decided en masse that this was too hard and so pushed blood pressure lowering drugs instead. The problem with the drugs, however, was that they weren’t particularly effective and didn’t make all that much difference to blood pressure levels in specific individuals.

Rising Blood Pressure? Go Primal

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The bottom line? Blood pressure continued to rise, and people wound up with side effects, like an enlarged heart, putting them at risk of heart failure. The good news is that lifestyle turns out to be very effective. So effective, in fact, that continuing to take blood pressure lowering medications while on a blood pressure lowering lifestyle can be dangerous. Here’s some advice from the Mayo Clinic.

Eat A Healthy Diet

The Mayo Clinic is an advocate of the so-called DASH diet which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. It’s a diet based around eating low-sodium, high-fiber foods every day and has been shown to be effective in reducing blood pressure over standard diets. But the DASH diet is only one among many of diets that have been shown to tackle hypertension.

Perhaps the best place to look for dietary inspiration isn’t the medical community at all, but the diets of people in countries where blood pressure is universally low. When missionary doctors first went to Africa at the beginning of the twentieth century, some took blood pressure readings of the natives. To their surprise, the blood pressure of even elderly natives was incredibly low – lower than most teens in their home countries.

This led them to wonder what could possibly be causing it. Decades passed and the science improved, eventually showing that it was their lifelong diet of whole plant foods that was the key factor. The average Zulu was eating nearly a kilogram of porridge and a kilogram of vegetables every day.

Cut Out The Sodium

Thanks to the work of Gary Taubes, the media wants you to believe that salt is not the cause of high blood pressure. Taubes, a New York Times columnist, produced a book in which he argued that salt and fat weren’t the problems: it was sugar. By scapegoating sugar, he successfully turned people away from the other risks to their health and convinced them that the low-fat mantra was some sort of conspiracy against them. Sugar is bad, but salt is bad too, and cultures that eat a lot of salt but little sugar still get high blood pressure.

Rising Blood Pressure? Go Primal

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If you want to get your salt intake down, cut down on bread. Shop-bought bread is packed with the stuff.

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