Hypertension is a serious condition that deserves rapid and savvy interventions. But much too often, the treatment stops at the prescription pad -a blessing for patients needing stabilization, but at what cost when thinking about long term (often forever) use? Drugs, although first-line therapy can unfortunately have unintended long-term negative consequences.
Were you aware that diuretics can deplete your body of key minerals and B vitamins and vitamin C? Beta blockers too are also known to decrease melatonin, precipitating insomnia. And some angiotensin II receptor antagonists leave you lacking in co-Q10 and carnitine which are key nutrients for proper mitochondrial health.
Unfortunately, few doctors explore the downstream effects of prescriptions and they might not know about the nutrient depletions these medications cause. This leaves a patient vulnerable to peripheral or secondary dysfunction as a result. However, this doesn't have to be the norm. Functional medicine tells us that hypertension is part of the expected continuum of metabolic dysfunction, chronic inflammation and oxidative stress overload. Identifying the root causes leads to helping each unique patient and could possibly reverse this dis-ease dynamic.
Let's have a look at more interconnectedness here:
Increase Your Cellular Potassium Absorption
Often we think it's all about decreasing your sodium intake. Not exactly. What might be needed is more potassium in the cells. Someone could be eating enough potassium with your consumption of fruits and vegetables, but not absorbing enough at the cellular level. If you are taking diuretic medication as part of the regimen, it is actually causing this imbalance of decreased potassium absorption at the cellular level. Magnesium plays a huge role in the uptake. As we increase Magnesium dramatically we also increase cellular potassium absorption. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/6399344/
Don't Overdo The Exercise
Too much exercise can be a negative contributor to hypertension. We are often told to increase our exercise. Nope. In fact, exercising too often and too intensely can be a big part of the imbalance as well. If cortisol levels are too high and exacerbated by too much exercise, high stress hormone levels are often a part of the hypertension puzzle. Try something more meditative like walking, yoga, or light exercise. Get your cortisol levels checked out with a Dutch test in Functional Medicine. Most importantly, you should not be completely wiped out after working out.
Eat a High Fat Diet
Yes, that's what you just read.. High fat intake improves blood pressure. Unbeknownst to most, lab work that reveals evidence of insulin resistance consistently shows that it is extremely necessary to take a look at diet. In Functional Medicine, taking a look at one's grain intake and removing it entirely, while increasing overall fat intake, and consuming a rich variety of low glycemic carbohydrates (vegetables and low-glycemic fruits) improves blood pressure. Sugar is your enemy, fat is your friend! https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23604708/
Stop Taking Those Calcium Supplements!
Surprise! There is a lot of research that confirms the cardiovascular dangers of excessive calcium supplements, especially when taken without vitamin D, magnesium, and vitamin K2. Taking calcium supplements alone can increase atherosclerotic plaque. Increasing your intake of fish oil, and vitamin K2 supplements in the form of MK-7 form twice daily and increasing your dark leafy greens, can supply plenty of food based calcium for your diet. https://www.bmj.com/content/341/bmj.c3691
Up Your Nitrates
No, I don't mean the nitrates found in ham or bacon, but more importantly nitrates found in celery, cucumber and various bitter greens. Natural nitrates are key for producing nitric acid which is what naturally causes blood vessel dilation. Start your morning with juiced celery or a blended smoothie of greens and cucumber and celery and ad a small beet. https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/hypertensionaha.107.103523
Increase Your Co-Q10 Intake
Most drugs, particularly statins and beta blocker medications deplete the body of Co-Q10 levels and melatonin. Which is why some complain of highly interrupted sleep. Co-Q10 is critical for endothelial function in the lining of your blood vessels. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0021915011010173
If you are passionate about transforming your health and have enjoyed understanding these tips, I encourage you to explore the benefits of functional medicine with me.
Medicinal Mushroom, Red Cabbage Allium Family Salad
Every once in a while I like to feature a great recipe that packs a huge amount of nutrients that our body can gobble up. In this recipe, shitake, wood ear mushrooms, etc.. are packed with B vitamins, pantothenic acid, riboflavin (B2) and selenium. The red cabbage -a cruciferous vegetable is another way to pack in your polyphenols and sulphur containing foods that help protect your body from free radical damage and oxidative stress.
Enjoy this recipe from a talented chef and photographer Emily J. Hara. See recipe below:
Acquire a mixed bag or a container of mixed medicinal mushrooms (I found mine at the farmer’s market and my $10 bag contained wood ear, trumpet, maitake, shitake, and king oyster). I did not clean mine because there was no visible dirt on the surface, but, the best way to clean mushrooms is with a damp paper towel.
Prepare a parchment sheet lined sheet pan of the mushrooms. Bake on 300 for 5 minutes. The wood ear mushrooms especially will begin to get crispy.
While these are crisping, prepare your bbq sauce. My BBQ Sauce was a ketchup heavy mix of:
- Organic Ketchup (citric acid free)
- Drizzle of Rice Vinegar Dressing (this one has sugar so for a non sugar option use organic Rice Vinegar)
- Splash of Tamari
- Squirt of Sriracha
- Drizzle of Maple Syrup
- Optional: Dash of TJ’s Umami Mushroom Powder (contains salt & red pepper flakes)
Take the mushrooms out of the oven. Mix your bbq sauce and coat the mushrooms and then arrange them with some room on the parchment paper. Put them back in the oven for another 10 minutes.
While this is baking, prepare your Red Cabbage Salad. You will need:
- Organic Red Cabbage
- A Mandolin for fine shaving
- Organic Green Onions
- Organic Mustard
- Organic Rice Vinegar
- Organic Toasted Sesame Oil
- 1 or 2 cloves of fresh Minced Garlic
- Lemon Juice
- Black & White Sesame Seeds
- Pink Himalayan Salt
Mandolin shred your red cabbage and remove the large white stalks. Chop so that each cabbage shred is about 1.5 inches long, for easy chewing.
Mix your Dressing into the Salad: Start with the vinegar and salt in a mixing bowl and massage with your fingers the cabbage making sure to separate and coat each sliver with the vinegar and salt in the bowl. The acid will make the cabbage a vibrant magenta! Marvel at your food science aptitude. ;) Then, mince chop your garlic clove or cloves and add it into your salad mix. Add Toasted Sesame Oil.
Use your best judgment with the vinegar, (I used about 4 tablespoons and 3 Tablespoons of Sesame Oil). Add a squirt of mustard and a dash of pink salt and blend together with the veggies using a spatula. Make sure to taste as you go to get the right balance of acid, salt, garlic, and oil.
I cut some green onion as a fancy topping and sprinkled the red cabbage salad with black and white sesame seeds. Add your bbq mushrooms! I squeezed some lemon juice on the salad to finish and also coated the mushrooms with lemon juice for sheen & flavor.
Devour your creation with friends or enjoy as a ceremony to yourself.