High blood pressure (hypertension) is regarded as the silent killer. More and more efforts are being undertaken to deal with hypertension, more and more it is spreading. More than 38% of adult urban population (mostly males) is suffering from this monstrous disease and are victim of its dreadful complications. In fact hypertension is not a disease; it is only a symptom of poor inner health. If not taken seriously and dealt firmly it can lay foundation stone for number of diseases and some of them can be life threatening too. Now the world has experienced that hypertension can only be managed with tablets and cannot be cured or reversed. No sooner medicine is discontinued; the hypertension comes back with greater intensity. People who are overweight, who worry too much, have a lot of stress, who over work and even those who are lazy are susceptible for hypertension. In industrially developed countries hypertension is reaching epidemic proportions. A very high protein diet, overuse of alcohol and tobacco, lack of exercise, atmospheric pollution, too much pressure of work, aggressive behavior etc., are some of the common causes of hypertension.
What does the Blood Pressure depend upon?
The Cardiac Output
This refers to the volume of blood pumped out by the heart. Both the force and rate of contraction of heart contributes to the blood pressure.
Blood volume can increase or decrease due to various reasons. Blood pressure falls when there is blood loss during an accident or surgery or due to fluid loss during diarrhea or vomiting. Blood volume increases if sodium is not effectively filtered off from the kidney as it may happen in kidney diseases.
Quality of Blood Vessels
The BP goes on increasing with age in normal persons which is due to slowly increasing hardening of the arteries. Young people have pliable arteries and when the blood is flowing through the arteries that have elastic (but firm) walls, the pressure is buffered off and hence the B.P. is lower. The modern stressful life style and rich fatty diet make the arterial wall harder which is a continuing aging process resulting in progressively increasing B.P. with age.
Diameter of the Arteries
The small arteries at the end of the supply line (Arterioles), have the ability to increase or decrease their diameter. If the situation demands a higher blood pressure, these arterioles narrow down their passage and as the blood flows through these tiny almost closed arterioles, the pressure increase. The opposite applies when these arterioles are wide open resulting in fall of BP. The thin circular muscles in the middle layer of the wall of these arterioles are controlled by autonomic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous stimulation increases the BP by narrowing the arterioles and parasympathetic systems decreases BP by dilating the arterioles. Thus, sympathetic stimulation is the main factor that contributes to the rise of BP during stress.
Will hypertension continue to take its toll like this? Will there be no cure to hypertension may be in coming times? Probably yes, under modern medicine, but still there are effective ways and means available to deal with hypertension with drug less methods and non-pharmacological approach. Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension (DASH) has proved its efficacy all over the world now. The food is being used as effective tool for reversal of hypertension, coronary artery disease and diabetes.
Diet to maintain your blood pressure
Research studies have shown that food can greatly affect blood pressure. There are certain foods, which may increase blood pressure, while certain others may help to lower it. One can thus safely eat one’s way out of high blood pressure. Some of the more important foods, which help in lowering the blood pressure, are described herein.
Diet for Hypertension
Bottle gourd Juice (Lauki or Doodhi)
Regular intake of bottle gourd juice, empty stomach early in the morning, as the first liquid intake, works wonderfully well. Consumption of 100-150 ml of bottle gourd juice will help to effectively first reduce and then reverse hypertension at all. This may take 40 days to 180 days. To attain better immunity and faster amelioration amla juice 5 to 10 ml may be mixed with bottle gourd juice. Bottle gourd juice should not be taken as medicine occasionally, but it should be incorporated as one of the regular habits as life style moderations. Here a word of caution will help the readers. If bottle guard is bitter, it should not be consumed in any case. Even in the case of patients suffering from hypertension for more than two decades and were on regular medication, bottle guard has done wonders beyond belief.
Apples are considered valuable in lowerir blood pressure. They have a rapid and considerable diuretic effect and relieve the kidneys by reducing the supply of sodium chlorides (common salt) to a minimum. They, also lower the sodium level in the tissues because of the high level of potassium.
The juice of this popular vegetable is found to be an effective food remedy for high blood pressure. A glass of this juice can be taken twice daily mixed with two teaspoons of honey and a teaspoon of limejuice. This will act as an effective diuretic and lower blood pressure.
Fruits and Vegetables
A diet rich in fruits and vegetables can lower blood pressure substantially. It has been observed that vegetarians generally suffer less from high blood pressure then non-vegetarians. According to Frank M. Sacks, M.D., an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, there are certain substances in fruits and vegetables which have mysterious powers to reduce blood pressure. He considers fibre to be one of such substance, especially in fruits.
Garlic is an ancient folk remedy to reduce blood pressure. It has been used in China as a blood pressure lowering medication for a very long time and is now widely used in Germany for this purpose.
It helps in reducing blood pressure and tension because of its power to ease the spasm of the small arteries. Garlic also slows the pulse, modifies the heart rhythm, besides relieving the symptoms of dizziness, numbness, shortness of breath and the formation of gas within digestive track. The average dosage should be two to three garlic bulbs a day to make a dent in the blood pressure.
Indian Gooseberry (Amla)
As a superfood and rich source of vitamin C, Indian gooseberry is a powerful blood pressure lowering food. A tablespoon each, of a fresh Amla juice and honey mixed together should be taken every morning in treating this disease. The use of vitamin C in an adequate amount has been found very valuable in lowering blood pressure. According to researcher Paul F. Jacques at the U.S Department of Agriculture’s, Human Nutrition Research Center on Ageing at Tufts University a low intake of foods rich in vitamin C predicts high blood pressure. Indian Gooseberry (Amla) can be taken in various form i.e, Amla powder (Amal ki Rasayan), dry Amla soaked in plain water overnight and Amla morabba (Prepared without chemicals).
Rice has a low fat, low cholesterol and low salt content making a perfect diet for those hypertensive persons who have been advised salt restricted diet. Calcium in brown rice in particular soothes and relaxed the nervous system and helps relieve the symptoms of high blood pressure.
Raw vegetable juices, especially carrot and spinach juices constitute a powerful blood pressure lowering food. They can be taken separately or in combination in treating high blood pressure. If taken in combination, 300 ml of carrot juice and 200 ml or spinach juice should be mixed together.
Watermelon (tarboz) Seeds
The seeds of watermelon can help in lowering blood pressure. They are a valuable safeguard against high blood pressure. According to Dr. Foster, an eminent physician, the nationwide use of watermelon seeds by the Chinese may be an important factor in the low blood pressure among then. The Chinese dry and roast the seeds and consume them liberally. In a recent experiment, a substance extracted from watermelon seeds was shown to have a definite action in dialating the blood vessels and this helps lower blood pressure.
Management of hypertension by food may prove a partial approach. The same must be supplemented by regular walk, yogic postures, pranayam and meditation/relaxation/contemplation, a wholesome blend of restricted food, exercises and meditation shall result in complete eradication of stress/ hypertension. At the cost of repetition the readers are reminded that the hypertension is not a disease in itself, it is only a symptom of stress/ tension, disturbed metabolic function and physiological imbalances. World has experienced the potentiality of food therapy, especially fresh fruits and green and leafy vegetables. Author has a dream to use diet as medicine to deal with so called incurable diseases. Unfortunately urban masses have made medicine as their diet.
A judicious way of managing hypertension is to have regular checking of the B.P., follow the diet, lead a life of moderation (not medication) and practice relaxation techniques.