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Do You Have the Challenge of This Common Condition & How Can You Improve It?

English: Blood pressure measurement.

Many suffer from different common conditions, particularly as they grow older. I decided to interview one of my close friends, who has just such a condition to deal with, to find out more about how she copes and whether it was possible to make some natural suggestions to further improve her health.

A bit of background is that the common condition referred to is high blood pressure and 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. Studies published in 1998 in the journal Diabetes reported that nearly two-thirds of their test subjects who were insulin resistant also had high blood pressure.

Here is the interview with my question and a reply from my friend sometimes followed by a general comment.

Q: Thank you so much for agreeing to this chat and to begin with, please could I ask you about your family's medical background because I know this is very relevant to you regarding your own health?

A: My paternal grandparents and my father all died of heart problems when they were over the age of 80 while high blood pressure runs in the family on my maternal side - with my grandmother who died of cancer in her 70s and my own mother, now 88, but who continues to take blood pressure medication.

Q: Is high blood pressure the only medical condition that affects you or do you have other challenges too?

A: Both my bad and good cholesterols levels are high which means my total cholesterol is acceptable. I undergo an annual cholesterol test.

Q: Which medications have you been taking and what side effects did you suffer from?

A: The first medication I took caused bloating so I only took it for a week. I was then prescribed a beta blocker which made me feel exhausted. I am afraid I do not remember the pharmaceutical names for these first two. Finally, my doctor put me on a 50 mg dose of Cozaar which I have been taking for about 18 months now with no side effects at all. My doctor is happy with my current blood pressure reading.

Q: Have you changed your diet and if so how?

A: I have eliminated salt as far as possible. I am also careful about animal fat and use a lite margarine and olive or canola oil. We have always followed a good diet and only have salty snacks on special occasions. I do not use salt in cooking and usually have fillet chicken breasts – not whole chicken or chicken pieces. We never have processed meats, such as ham or polony, on a regular basis and our only take out treat once a week is fried fish and chips. I have to admit to having some salt with this! I now use herbs in place of salt for a tomato sandwich or for eggs.

Comment: Eliminating processed salt used in snacks and processed foods is definitely the way to go. However, we all need some salt but it must be natural salt and not processed salt. Processed salt is nothing like natural salt. One is health damaging while the second is healing. Natural salt is 84% percent sodium chloride but processed salt is 98%. The remaining 16% of natural salt comprises other naturally occurring minerals such as trace minerals like silicon, phosphorous and vanadium. However that 2% of processed salt consists of chemicals such as moisture absorbents (dangerous chemicals like ferrocyanide and aluminosilicate) and a little added iodine. In addition the structure of processed salt has been extensively altered during the refining process. Refined salt is dried above 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit, altering the natural chemical structure of the salt and leaving behind chemically “cleaned” sodium chloride. When buying salt, look for packets of natural salt such as Celtic.

As you have pointed out, there are also other natural products that you can use to enhance and add flavor to your food such as the herbs you mentioned including: parsley, thyme, coriander, rosemary, origanum or mixed herbs. Others ideas are spices such as: black pepper, curry, paprika, cumin, cinnamon, cloves, curry and mustard powder; bay leaves; lemon and/or orange rind and juice; vinegar; and garlic or ginger. Of course, the more anyone can move towards a diet of whole foods in their natural state the better.

Q: Do you use any natural remedies, herbs or supplements etc to boost your health?

A: No, I don't feel that I need anything more than a good diet to keep healthy. I have never been in the habit of taking multivitamins or other supplements.

Comment : Of course a diet that is particularly high in all varieties and colors of fresh vegetables, fresh herbs and some fresh fruit should give you many of the nutrients and vitamins you need particularly if you eat some of them raw and others just lightly steamed. First prize is when those veggies are organically grown and freshly picked such as from your own garden. The one vitamin that you cannot really get from food sources (except in very small quantities) is vitamin D. Sunlight is the main source but there is a worldwide vitamin D deficiency epidemic. GrassrootsHealth has launched a public health campaign to solve this deficiency through a focus on testing and education. They point out that "Even milder degrees of deficiency are now understood to be one of the causes of a vast array of chronic diseases, including osteoporosis, impaired immune competence, various autoimmune diseases (such as diabetes and multiple sclerosis), several cancers including breast, colon, lung, lymphoma and prostate, high blood pressure, pregnancy complications and cardiovascular disease. All may develop because of, or being exacerbated by, vitamin D deficiency." They add that "Asking the body to deal with these disorders without adequate vitamin D is like asking a fighter to enter battle with one hand tied behind his or her back." The first course of action is to be tested and if you are found to be deficient and are unable to get sufficient sunlight to boost your levels, then to consider taking a vitamin D3 supplement. You can find more information here and if you do read this post, you will see that I got tested and was found to be seriously deficient.

Apart from processed salt, there are some other foods that should be avoided or reduced if high blood pressure is a problem and they are breads, pasta, rice, cereal and potatoes but the good news is that there are lots of foods that are particularly helpful in lowering blood pressure. Top of the list is crushed, raw garlic which is easily added to your diet. Other foods include: watermelon, spinach, grass fed butter instead of margarine, olive oil and coconut oil instead of canola oil and sunflower oil, oats and oat bran, cinnamon, lima beans, raw almonds and bananas.

I am quoting from Dr Mercola to end this post.

In his article along with other measures, he says: "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."

He adds this 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."