After working out regularly and taking very good care of myself, at the prime age of 65 now the doctor tells me my B.P. is up. Do I need to go on meds? I eat right, no salt, no sugar, a lot of veggies and fruits,very little fat, and take a lot of supplements, like D3 omega 3 oils. Is it old age creeping up on me? I’m confused? Any advice? – Lou F.
Gabe Mirkin, M.D., Replies:
High blood pressure increases risk for heart attacks, strokes and premature death. You cannot cure high blood pressure with drugs, you can only control it as long as you continue to take drugs (Hypertension. 2002;40(5):612-618). Most of the time, your blood pressure cannot be controlled with just one drug and most people end up with three or more drugs to treat their high blood pressure. Here are the lifestyle changes recommended to cure high blood pressure:
1) Restrict sugared drinks and sugar added to foods(except when you ride intensely for more than 70 minutes). You only have enough sugar stored in your body to last that long. When you run out of sugar, you tire and weaken. I will do a whole article on this in the coming weeks.
People who eat more than 25% of their calories from added sugars have a 300% increased risk for high blood pressure and for heart attack deaths compared to those who consume less than 10% of their calories from added sugars (JAMA Intern Med. 2014;174(4):516-524).
2) Restrict refined carbohydrates
A whole grain is a seed of grass. It has a thick capsule that cannot be broken down efficiently in your intestines, so blood sugar and insulin levels barely rise after you eat them. However, when you grind a whole grain into flour, you break the capsule so that flour does cause a high rise in blood sugar and insulin after you eat foods such as bakery products and pastas.
3) Eat large amounts of whole grains, and fruits and vegetables
Unprocessed vegetables, whole grains, nuts, other seeds and most fruits contain complex carbohydrates and fats that are not released rapidly into the bloodstream and do not cause a high rise in blood sugar and insulin.
4) Avoid being overweight
Your liver controls blood sugar levels. When blood sugar levels rise, insulin drives sugar from the bloodstream into the liver. However, when you have fat in your liver, the fat prevents sugar from entering the liver. The liver will raise blood sugar levels even higher by releasing stored sugar from its cells into the bloodstream.
5) Avoid smoking
Smoking damages every cell in your body.
6) Restrict Red Meat
Did you know that insulin drives protein as well as sugar into cells?
*One hamburger drives insulin higher than 1.5 cups of pasta or an apple (American J of Clin Nutr 1997;66:4264-76).
*Vegetarians have low risk for insulin resistance (Eur J of Clin Nutr 2006;45:52-53)
*Vegetarian diet in diabetics drops insulin to normal in 3 weeks (Lipids in Health and disease 2010;9:94)
*Add one egg white/day to your diet and insulin goes up 60% (Metabolism. Dec 1996;45(12)
*low carbohydrate, high-meat diets do not drop insulin levels (British J of Nutrition 2013;110:1178-1187)
*3 weeks on a plant diet drops LDL cholesterol, and insulin by 23% (Am J of Cardiology 1992;69:440-444)
*High levels of insulin increase cancer risk JCI May, 2013;4(3)
A high rise in blood sugar causes the pancreas to release large amounts of insulin. Insulin constricts arteries to raise blood pressure. Resting muscles draw no sugar from the bloodstream. On the other hand, contracting muscles draw sugar rapidly from the bloodstream and don’t even need insulin to do so. The more intensely you exercise, the less insulin is needed by muscles to withdraw sugar from the blood and this effect lasts for up to 17 hours after you finish exercising.
Gabe Mirkin, M.D., is a sports medicine doctor and fitness guru. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin has run more than 40 marathons and is now a serious tandem bike rider with his wife, Diana. His website is http://drmirkin.com/. Click to read Gabe’s full bio.