We’re going to look at preventing, mitigating, reversing hypertension. In functional medicine, we have a very simple theory or formula for doing this.
We’re going to maximize things that are really, really good for us and we’re going to minimize things that really are not so good for us, and then we’re going to prioritize, one, two, three, four, what are the most important things where 80% of the results will come from 20% of our actions and forming new habits.
The advice you’re going to get from a doctor, they must tell you about lifestyle changes first. That is part of the code of how things are supposed to operate, but depending on your circumstances, you may be written a prescription at the first sign of high blood pressure. There are six different medications that can be prescribed for blood pressure and invariably what happens is when the first medicine doesn’t work, they cut that dose back and they add a second medication. And when that’s not doing the job fully, they’ll cut back on the second medication and they’ll add a third medication. And it happens often, especially with our senior citizens, that people can wind up on 10, 12, even 15 different medications for various ailments with no real guidance or master of the helm really controlling all the interactions and it may be helping them to some extent, but there’s a lot of conflict between the medications that can be taking away the quality of life.
We don’t want that to happen so let’s be on guard for that. I’m not really qualified to talk about ACE inhibitors and beta-blockers and channel blockers and all those things.
Here are some lifestyle and health choices to help us.
The very first thing you’re going to hear, and you hear it often, is that you need to cut back on sodium, which means watch how much salt you’re putting on your food. Well, when I put salt on my food, I watch and I put salt on my food. The real thing that you’ve got to, the little fine print what the doctor’s telling you to watch your sodium, is to read the food labels on the foods that you buy. For example, if you have a slice of pepperoni pizza you don’t need to put salt on your pizza because that pepperoni is so full of salt.
It’s more than a person needs in an entire day. That’s not the way to do it. You got to look at what the actual ingredients of the food you’re eating, how much sodium is in there. Most processed food has a lot of sodium or a lot of sugar and sometimes they have both. Those are the two things you got to watch out for. I think you should salt your food to taste, but stay away from the processed foods and even a can of Campbell’s chicken noodle soup’s going to have more sodium than you need in a normal diet, in a meal, in a day, in a serving. Be careful about what you’re eating and we know that these fast foods are very, very convenient and easy and the food’s ready and it tastes good and etcetera, but:
How much sodium are you ingesting?
If you can stay away from the processed, fast food, and you have someone at home, yourself or a spouse or someone to cook for you, then you salt your food according to taste, that’s perfectly fine. The next thing the doctor’s going to tell you is to get more exercise. And I want to explain what that means.
More exercise and it being prescribed MEANS your body has to move. We talked about the lymph system and the detox of liquids moving through the lymph to the liver and we get rid of our waste material through the kidneys and through the liver. Exercise allows that to happen. The more exercise you get, the better, within reason. But the thing is you want to get your heart rate a little higher than normal. The resting heart rate normally is between 60 and 80 for someone who’s in really good condition and fit.
When you get older, your heartbeat rate, your pulse rate, could be up to 100 and it’s still normal. So in order to exercise and get your heart rate up a little higher, what you want to do is walk a little faster or pump on the bicycle a little more. I have a stationary bike over there and I ride it for 20, 30 minutes every day if I can’t get out and walk. So my first obligation to myself is to get out and walk.
If we’ve got sunshine and blue skies, you better believe I’m going to be out walking and enjoying the fresh air.
A mistake that a lot of people make is they exercise on busy roads. That’s a no-no. There is all this exhaust from the cars and the trucks coming at you. Go to a park. I guarantee 90% of you, or 99% of you, live within five or 10 minutes of a park where there are trees and where there’s grass and where there are plants and all that nature is imbibing good energy for your body and producing oxygen that you need to breathe.
Where you exercise and how you exercise are very important. It’s not necessary that you do strenuous aerobic exercises. It’s good to get the heart rate elevated and here’s why. The higher you can push the elevation of your heart rate during exercise, when you take that break and you rest, that heartbeat is going to go lower than even what you normally were at your resting heart rate. The more you exercise, the better it is for your heart. Like any muscle, the more you use it the better shape it’s in. That’s just the nature of muscles.
The third thing they’re going to tell you is to lose weight. If you’re overweight, you’ve got to lose some weight. And that makes a lot of sense because the more weight you’re carrying the more stress you’re putting on your heart to have to pump further in the circulatory system.
We shared with you that every pound of fat or every pound of muscle that you add, every pound of tissue that’s added to your body, is increasing that circulatory system by seven miles. There’s a lot more pumping to do. And the bigger you are, the harder the heart has to pump in order to feed the entire body and get oxygen to all hundred billion cells of you. That’s important. For every pound of weight that you’re able to shed, you’re going to lose some points off your blood pressure score. The third thing is called the dash diet, and I’m going to just reference it right off the screen here. The dash diet stands for the dietary approach to stop hypertension. That’s an alliteration there. It favors vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy, poultry, fish, and chicken. Okay.
What does that sound like to you?
That sounds like the Mediterranean diet. That’s a pretty commonly referenced diet that’s very easy to follow. Fruits and vegetables, we know what those are. A little bit of fish, a little bit of meat, and then your beans, your legumes, and whatever’s your favorite meal that you prefer. Generally speaking, red meat you want to cut down on that a little more, although it’s not entirely 100% guarantee that you have to get rid of it altogether, there’s plenty of good meats to choose from that can help you get the protein that you need. What’s missing from this diet? Well, sugar for one, processed foods for number two, and number three, all those combinations of manufactured items that are in the aisles of the supermarket. We mentioned it before, but it’s very important that you shop the perimeter of the supermarket and stay out of the aisles as much as you can.
Why? Because the perimeter of the supermarket has refrigeration, which means the food is fresh. You want to take in fresh food as much as possible, whenever possible and even nowadays when you go into a convenience store at a rest stop or a gas station, they will have apples and bananas. Those will be there. Five or 10 years ago fruit was not available in those stores, but now people have demanded it and you can get a snack in the form of a nice banana or an apple or an orange. That works. That is real food, as opposed to the package of cookies or crackers or potato chips. You want to stay away from those.