Over one billion people globally suffer from hypertension and over 75 million souls succumb to this condition each year. In fact, one in three adults have elevated blood pressure and the most common responses to this malady involve ongoing drug therapy, or simply ignoring the issue. Neither response is particularly productive. The drug solution will be required for the rest of your life, and that life may well be shorter, as a result.
Recent research has linked long term hypertension medication to increased risk of breast cancer, and a much greater risk of stroke. In a recently published study conducted by the University of Alabama, blood pressure medication was linked to a substantial increase in stroke when used long-term. In that study, which involved a group of over 26,000 people, blood pressure drugs were linked to a 280% increased risk of stroke!
There are also issues with blood flow restriction, as blood pressure medications, such as alpha blockers, angiotensin II receptor blockers, and calcium channel blockers, work by dilating blood vessels. This intervention effectively lowers blood pressure. However, this can result in diminished blood flow to the brain and the penis, potentially resulting in dizziness, impotence and the compromising of brain performance.
The second option of simply ignoring the issue is similarly fraught with danger. High blood pressure constricts blood vessels, meaning the heart must work harder than normal to deliver blood around the body. This can substantially increase the risk of heart attack. This constriction can also lead to an accumulation of cholesterol and increased likelihood of atherosclerosis. However, there is much more of concern. Stroke is much more likely when your circulatory pipes are pressured. Your chances of suffering kidney disease, cognitive decline, diabetes and Alzheimer’s are also much higher.
So, is there a better option than indefinite symptom treating, or apathy? There most certainly is, and in this article I will explore these more productive solutions. In fact, we will discuss the likely root causes of your hypertension, including magnesium deficiency, insulin resistance, high homocysteine, kidney malfunction, air pollution and amino acid deficiency. I will also focus on sustainable treatment options that do not take more than they give.
Magnesium Deficiency – a Major Pressure Pusher
Magnesium deficiency is the most common of human deficiencies, with over 75% of us lacking this key mineral. I often refer to magnesium as the “master mineral”, as it is involved in such a wide range of processes. Many of these functions are directly linked to heart health (a lack of which remains our largest killer). Magnesium also dilates struggling blood vessels with obvious implications for the constriction associated with hypertension. However, the often unrecognised link between magnesium deficiency and high blood pressure relates to our stress-laden lives.
We were originally equipped with the flight or fight response to deliver adrenalin and other activators, in order to enable escape in life-threatening scenarios. In our unnatural, stressful lives, we are often constantly experiencing some degree of the fight or flight response. Every one of these 21 duress-driven changes, require magnesium. It is simple – stress sucks magnesium! The problem is magnified as our magnesium levels decline, because we have effectively lost the relaxation mineral. As a result, a vicious cycle ensues. We feel more stress, suck more magnesium, feel more stress, and we spiral downward until a stroke or heart attack ends the fall. The life buoy in our oceans of anxiety is supplementary magnesium, to compensate for the constant and ongoing stress-based depletion.
The printed sheet in the blood pressure prescription packet warns of contraindications (substances to avoid while you are taking this medication). Ironically, it is suggested that you avoid magnesium supplementation to reduce the risk of generating low blood pressure. This is a simple admission that magnesium deficiency may be the root cause of your problem. When you are already artificially reducing your magnesium with the drug, the actual solution (magnesium supplementation) may drive the pressure too low. It is important to understand that magnesium will only lower blood pressure in those that are missing the mineral.
Understanding the Numbers
There are two numbers provided by your doctor, or your own blood pressure monitor. The upper, or first number, is your systolic blood pressure. The lower, or second number, is your diastolic arterial pressure. Your systolic pressure represents the highest pressure in your arteries, occurring when your ventricular contract, at the beginning of the cardiac cycle. The diastolic reading relates to the lowest arterial pressure, occurring during the resting phase of the cycle. The ideal blood pressure is 120/80.
If you are over 60, your systolic reading represents the most important cardiovascular risk factor. However, it is the opposite if you are under 60 and have other major heart risk markers. Here, your diastolic figure is thought to be a more important guideline.
A range between 120 – 139 for systolic and 80 – 89 for diastolic is termed “prehypertension”, but this becomes Stage 1 Hypertension when the systolic levels rise over 140 and the diastolic reading exceeds 90. However, when those figures exceed 160/100 you have Stage 2 Hypertension and things are getting a little serious.
The Best Treatment for Magnesium Deficiency
Oral magnesium supplementation would seem the obvious solution for a magnesium deficiency, but this is not the case. If you suffer a chronic deficiency (a long-term shortage), which many of us do, then there is a problem. A side-effect of a prolonged deficiency is a reduced capacity to absorb magnesium through the gut lining, into the blood, where it is transported around the body. The RDI is 270 – 400 mg of actual magnesium, but this is of little benefit if you are not utilising the mineral.
Intra-muscular injections (usually in your bottom) are one solution, but it takes several painful jabs to top up. Intravenous magnesium is another, and this one can put you back in the game with a single 60-minute trickle feed (if you can find an experienced practitioner prepared to oblige).
The easiest and most cost effective way to lift levels of this important mineral is via the skin. Transdermal magnesium offers a direct feed into the blood, without suffering the losses linked to compromised digestion.
This is a very pure form of magnesium chloride, sourced from an ancient seabed deposit near Holland. This magnesium concentrate is simply sprayed onto the body, where it is absorbed around ten times more efficiently than oral supplementation. MagSorb™ can be applied to the soles of the feet, where 2000 absorbent pores on each foot speed its uptake. It can also be sprayed under the arms, where it also serves to kill the anaerobic organisms responsible for body odor. Sore muscles are relieved within a few minutes and it can prove a Godsend tool (according to many a grateful customer) to rapidly halt extreme, painful cramps.
Insulin Resistance and Hypertension
It has been argued, quite convincingly, that insulin resistance, high blood pressure, stroke, Alzheimer’s and heart disease may all be different levels on a single continuum. In fact, Alzheimer’s is often called “type 3 diabetes”, as it can be the next step on this continuum.
Insulin is produced by the pancreas in response to a rise in blood sugar, through consumption of sugar or simple carbohydrates. Insulin is a hugely important substance, as it carries the two main cell foods, glucose and fatty acids, into your cells. It also carries magnesium into the cells, where it is supposed to reside. All cells are covered in insulin receptors to attract this hormone and its precious pay lode. However, when insulin is oversupplied it can become toxic to cells and, in response, they begin shutting down their insulin receptors. This is called insulin resistance. When the shutdown is complete, you have Type 2 diabetes. In the absence of cell food, your cells can starve, resulting in the amputations and blindness that are a common feature of this plague disease.
Reclaiming Insulin Sensitivity and Reducing Blood Pressure
If you can adopt the proven strategies to reclaim your insulin sensitivity, it is highly likely that you will reduce your blood pressure. You will also minimise the likelihood of suffering the other interrelated “dis-eases”, that together account for a large percentage of premature death. These productive strategies include the following:
1) Improve your omega-6:omega-3 ratio – most of us have a distorted ratio between these essential fatty acids and this has a major impact on inflammation and insulin sensitivity. The ideal ratio in our bodies is two parts omega-6 with one part omega-3. Unfortunately, most of us, in the developed world, have a ratio of at least 20:1. Omega-6 fats are the building blocks for the first stage of a two-stage process called the inflammatory cascade. They drive the initial phase of inflammation, when we experience inflamed tissue or compromised metabolic processes. Then, we need adequate omega-3 fats to drive the second stage of this process, the anti-inflammatory, healing phase. What does it mean when we have ten times more of the inflammation drivers (omega-6) than the counteracting agents (omega-3). It means we have inflammation. Either obviously present as arthritis, enlarged prostate or digestive disorders, or, less obviously, this imbalance can be a root cause of the underlying inflammation linked to every degenerative disease (including hypertension). The solution is to embrace omega 3-rich food, like oily fish, krill oil, flaxseed oil, chia seed, grass-fed beef and hemp oil, while abandoning margarine, junk oils (sunflower, safflower, canola and soy oil) and grain-fed beef.
2) Reduce your carbs and boost your protein and good fats – most awakened nutritionists have now recognised that we got it horribly wrong with the old school food pyramid. Here, we embraced carbohydrates and considered them to be the most important food at the base of the pyramid. Meanwhile, we demonized fat, and minimized consumption of this “undesirable”, positioned at the top of the pyramid. We now know that this no-fat, low-fat, 99% fat free strategy backfired. When we reduce consumption of healthy fats, we increase our craving for the carbohydrates, which, when overconsumed, make us fatter than fat ever did.
Reduce your bread, white rice, sugar and soft drinks, and increase your intake of good fats like coconut oil, red palm oil, raw cream, ghee and olive oil. Red Gold™ from NTS Health is a delicious, organic source of red palm oil, featuring the highest source of brain-protecting carotenoids, and a rare source of all 8 forms of vitamin E. This amazing cooking oil is so high in antioxidants, it can not be oxidised (damaged) during cooking like all other oils. Like coconut oil, it is also a plant-derived saturated fat, that actually sponsors weight loss through increased metabolism.
3) Boost your chromium intake – this neglected trace mineral is so important for insulin management, it should almost warrant litigation when poorly trained doctors neglect to advise insulin resistant patients of the absolute necessity for chromium supplementation. I use the word,“almost”, because I am not a fan of lawsuits. This American-led practice has lifted the cost of insurance premiums across the globe. It has fattened the bulging wallets of the law profession and it is often counter to the important adult concept of always accepting responsibility for, and the consequences of, our own actions.
Back to chromium, this trace mineral is found in tiny quantities in food. This is probably due to the fact that we have removed it from the soil with every crop for centuries, but it has rarely been replaced. The highest source of chromium is brewers yeast, followed by broccoli and liver. One of the only good things about beer (other than the hops high and the delicious new taste treats developed by the boutique brewers) is the chromium content, linked to the brewers yeast.
Chromium has been shown to lower blood sugar levels and helps to reclaim insulin sensitivity. This supplement may be beneficial, as it also lowers cholesterol, enhances weight loss and improves protein utilisation (with improved muscle development and associated body composition).
4) Find 100 minutes for resistance exercise – you may have seen people on the road, or in the park, power walking while brandishing small barbells. In our time-starved world, this multi-tasking is about trying to achieve three outcomes in a single 30-minute session. These folks are aerobically exercising their hearts, while also pumping lymphatic fluid to avoid lymphatic congestion (the lymphatic system does not have a pump, and walking provides that desirable lymph movement). They are also practicing resistance exercise with the weights. Resistance exercise is not necessarily about muscle building. It is all about providing resistance for muscles to release Human Growth Hormone from your pituitary gland, where it commonly becomes trapped. This natural hormone is the essence of a long, vital life, with over 100 published studies confirming this longevity link.
We now understand that resistance training, for a minimum of five 20-minute sessions each week, also helps to reclaim insulin sensitivity. It is a wonderful win/win scenario, so treat yourself to that life-changing 100 minutes.
5) Practice calorie restriction – it has been found that restricting calories to 2000 per day can have a remarkable impact on your health. Not only does it help counter insulin resistance, Type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s, it is also another proven practice to increase the flow of Human Growth Hormone from its pituitary prison. You can still eat plenty of food with this restriction, but unfortunately it can not be bread, cakes, white rice, soft drinks or beer.
It is interesting to see that all five of these practices are linked to increased resilience relative against the five diseases I mentioned earlier. In fact, it adds more credibility to the theory that high blood pressure, insulin resistance, stroke, Alzheimer’s and heart disease, may all be part of the same continuum.
In the second installment of this two-part article, we will consider the contribution of some other key hypertension players and I will highlight some productive strategies to defuse the blood pressure time bomb.
Disclaimer: This content is a personal view only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.