When was the last time you had your blood pressure checked? It is one of the few things that most doctors will check any time they see a patient, regardless of why that patient might be visiting. This is because blood pressure is so incredibly important to our heart health and, as you can imagine, our heart health is pretty important to our desire to stay alive.
My absolute favourite online resource for all things health and nutrition based is Michael Gregor, M.D. of NutritionFacts.org. He is delightfully educational, meaning he has a sarcastic wit and is not afraid to be contradictory. He calls bullshit where he smells bullshit, if I may be so frank.
It seems that, in our current society, doctors and professionals are too scared to lay blame where it should be put. Whether that is due to pressure from industry (meat, dairy, pharmaceuticals, government, who knows) or because they are scared to offend their clients, I’m not sure. Perhaps they simply don’t know the truth. But Dr. Gregor will call you out on making unhealthy choices and I so appreciate it!
For that reason, NutritionFacts.org was my first resource for researching blood pressure. And I was devastated by what I found. I know that Heart Disease is the leading cause of Americans, but when your really break down the numbers, it’s terrifying.
“Today, high blood pressure may wipe out four hundred thousand (400,000) Americans every year. A thousand (1,000) unnecessary deaths every day.” http://nutritionfacts.org/video/high-blood-pressure-may-be-a-choice/
Every single day 1000+ Americans DIE because of high blood pressure. And it is completely 100% and totally preventable.
I went to a few other sources for some definitions and further information. Here’s some detail for you.
Blood pressure and Hypertension
“Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a common condition that will catch up with most people who live into older age. Blood pressure is the force of blood pressing against the walls of the arteries. When it’s too high, it raises the heart’s workload and can cause serious damage to the arteries. Over time, uncontrolled high blood pressure increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease.” (WebMD)
This source says quite frankly that the cause of hypertension is difficult if not impossible to identify. But, interestingly enough, in addition to medicines, they also advocate for the DASH Diet – aka “Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. This includes eating a more plant-based diet and avoiding things like sodium, red meat, saturated fats and sweets.
Now, I’m curious, if a proper eating plan can “Stop Hypertension”, might one be lead to believe that an improper eating plan – one that is the opposite of the DASH Diet – might be the cause of hypertension? Is that going too far out on a limb? What do you think about this (leave your comments below – let’s talk!)
I went to the MayoClinic.org as well, to cast a wider research net. They also indicated right away that the cause of hypertension is unidentifiable. But then they make it clear that there are many factors that will increase your risk, including: Age, Race, Family History, Being overweight or obese, Not being physically active, Too much salt (sodium) in your diet, and Too little potassium in your diet, among a few others.
Those are a lot of ways to increase the risk and I would be comfortable concluding, personally, that diet and lifestyle choices are totally the leading cause of high blood pressure!
Just in case your wondering, more and more children are being diagnosed with high blood pressure these days. Your lifestyle choices are directly affecting your children’s health and well being. Even if you don’t care about your own high blood pressure, please understand that your children are also being put at risk and you have all the power to prevent it!
The older you are, the longer your bad habits have had to impact your body. Your family history and ethnicity plays a huge part in your learned habits. A plant-based eating plan would take care of the sodium and potassium problem and fill you with energy so you are much more likely to increase your physical activity level.
Blood pressure is a real and serious threat, but it absolutely doesn’t have to be. By adding more plant-based foods – fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, etc – and reducing the pre-prepared, processed foods you eat, you can dramatically decrease your risk of developing a life-threatening diseased caused by hypertension.
Please start today.