by Dr. Janet Brill, Registered Dietitian
Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.
Reducing your blood pressure without drugs is easier than you think. The Blood Pressure Down plan is a combination approach of losing a little bit of weight, eating six types of foods, and exercising, developed from my extensive research on the best way to naturally reduce blood pressure.
The plan works because it harnesses the specific blood-pressure-lowering potential of several simple diet and lifestyle manipulations. The combination of these is far more effective than a single food or exercise.
Why? Each component has been scientifically proven to lower blood pressure to a different degree. Remember, with abnormal high blood pressure, every millimeter counts – for every 20 mm Hg increase in systolic blood pressure number above normal, there is an approximate doubling of risk for heart attack and stroke.
Each component of the plan tackles your high blood pressure from a different angle; together, this potent natural combination therapy can lower blood pressure as much as most single prescriptions. In the next section, you will learn about the therapeutic blood-pressure-lowering lifestyle strategies, then put them all into action simultaneously, providing you with the safest and most effective natural method to get your blood pressure down.
Treatment for all types of high blood pressure is classified as either lifestyle or pharmacotherapy. My book is about lifestyle therapy, the specific non-drug, natural modifications known to be the cornerstone of treatment for high blood pressure.
As you have learned, lifestyle therapy should always be used first and foremost to prevent and treat high blood pressure. Read on to get a better picture of the lifestyle modifications that you will combine to attain and maintain lifelong blood pressure control.
Combination lifestyle therapy is a hybrid of diet and exercise modifications for lowering blood pressure. There are varying opinions on the best combination. The U.S. government, the American Heart Association, the Canadian government, and the British Hypertension Society each have their own guidelines, as you can see in the table below:
Each of the six modifiable lifestyle factors listed here has been proven to significantly reduce blood pressure. This might seem overwhelming, but don’t worry! I just want you to see how much evidence there is for all of these lifestyle modifications. In my plan I’ve put them all together for you, to multiply the blood-pressure-lowering power of each one.
There’s no shortage of proof that natural combination therapy works. The prestigious groups of doctors and scientists of the government’s JNC 7 committee have outlined approximately how many millimeters each of the top lifestyle therapies lowers systolic blood pressure (the top number).
You can be sure that each of these well-established strategies is included in the Blood Pressure Down plan — along with several additional less well-known but equally effective lifestyle steps. Used together, these strategies form a lifestyle “attack” on different systems related to blood pressure regulation, with a much greater impact than any single therapy.
You now know that high blood pressure is usually silent but always treacherous and that you must get it down. If you are not ready to get on the prescription bandwagon — or if you want to get off — you can rest assured that the combination of natural, safe, and highly effective lifestyle methods outlined in these pages will get your blood pressure under control.
Blood Pressure Down takes six individual blood-pressure-lowering foods — all scientifically shown to independently reduce blood pressure — and combines them on a daily basis with a manageable amount of weight loss, salt restriction, exercise, and relaxation. Combining all these proven blood-pressure-lowering strategies is as effective as combining several types of blood-pressure-lowering drugs.
All the ingredients are available at your local supermarket and are no more dangerous, exotic, or expensive than bananas, yogurt, or walking. Each step in the plan lowers your blood pressure several millimeters in a slightly different way, so the combination approach is substantially stronger than a single therapeutic treatment.
Going on the “mineral diet” I prescribe (high amounts of potassium, magnesium, and calcium- rich foods), for example, lowers pressure by balancing the electrolytes in your bloodstream. Getting in daily aerobic exercise such as brisk walking, on the other hand, lowers pressure by boosting internal production of nitric oxide, a natural substance that acts like Valium for endothelial cells, relaxing and widening the arteries.
A daily dose of both the minerals and exercise cuts pressure much more than either in isolation. In this way, all ten steps of the Blood Pressure Down plan work together to pack a very powerful punch in lowering blood pressure.
The next ten chapters provide a set of simple, healthful food and exercise prescriptions that give safe and measurable blood-pressure-lowering results in as little as four weeks. If you’re at high risk of developing high blood pressure or already have the disease, these ten lifestyle changes can literally save your life.
Think of all ten steps as the equivalent of a daily prescription pill— it’s essential to do your best to get them all in. You’ll keep track of your progress using the Ten-Step Daily Checklist located in Appendix 3, the same tool my patients use. Read on to begin with Step 1 of the daily checklist and start now to get your blood pressure down!
(published May 13, 2013)
Janet Brill, Ph.D., R.D., LDN, is a leading diet, nutrition, and fitness expert specializing in cardiovascular disease prevention. She is the author of Cholesterol Down: 10 Simple Steps to Lower Your Cholesterol in 4 Weeks – Without Prescription Drugs (Three Rivers Press, 2006), Prevent a Second Heart Attack: 8 foods, 8 Weeks to Reverse Heart Disease (Three Rivers Press, Feb. 2011), and Blood Pressure Down, The 10-Step Plan to Lower Your Blood Pressure in 4 Weeks (Three Rivers Press, April 2011). To learn more about Dr. Janet, get delicious heart-healthy recipes, or buy her books, please visit DrJanet.com or Blood Pressure Down.