Causes Of High Blood Pressure, Primary Pulmonary Hypertension, Take Back Your Health. Part 2.
Tom Venuto Interviews Frank Mangano
About The Best Natural Ways To Lower Your Blood Pressure, Reduce Your Waistline And Take Back Your Health.
High Blood Pressure Diet Part 1
Tom Venuto: Okay, now here is a question that is going to be of great interest to the listeners in my audience. What is the relationship between blood pressure and obesity? Is it a direct relationship? If you’re overweight, does your blood pressure necessarily go up right in line with your weight, or does only the probability of hypertension increase? And what if you’re obese or even morbidly obese? Are you virtually guaranteed to have high blood pressure?
Frank Mangano: Being extremely overweight or obese and having high blood pressure are so closely related that it has even been given its own name: obesity hypertension. Of all the cases of hypertension in the U.S., 75% can be directly attributed to obesity. Deaths directly from hypertension or that had high blood pressure as a primary contributor totaled 310,707 in the U.S. in 2002. It’s a chain reaction: obesity=hypertension= heart disease=death and that all begins with how fat a person is.
It’s not just how much you are overweight, but also where you carry your extra weight that can have a great impact on blood pressure. Risk factors are increased when added weight is in the abdominal area. This is because people with a so-called spare tire also have increases in blood sugar, which causes the fat to be deposited there, and then starts a cycle of sodium and water retention. To summarize, there is a significant risk factor for developing high blood pressure if you’re obese.
Tom Venuto: Yes, and I think it’s worth emphasizing the part about abdominal obesity because abdominal obesity which is 35 inches or more for women or 40 inches or more waist measurement for men, combined with high blood pressure are both part of a group of risk factors called metabolic syndrome or syndrome X. If you have metabolic syndrome you’re at risk for some serious health problems. So let’s take that situation in reverse. If you’re obese and you start losing weight are you guaranteed that your blood pressure going to drop?
Frank Mangano: There’s a direct correlation between obesity and hypertension, so it makes perfect sense that losing weight can lower blood pressure. The proof is in the numbers. Blood pressure is measured in mm/hg. A reading of blood pressure as the heart beats and as it relaxes, creates the dual number of X over Y giving you your final blood pressure reading. For every 2.2 pounds of weight lost, blood pressure falls 1 mm/hg. Of course, this is just one very positive byproduct of weight loss.
Tom Venuto: Okay, so we’ve talked mostly about the problem, although we talked a little bit about stress relief and losing weight as two potential solutions, let’s start talking about even more solutions now. I’ve read your book and I’m also familiar with the Dietary Approaches To Stop Hypertension, also known as DASH, so we know there’s not just one, but many different strategies for reducing blood pressure naturally, and in fact it may be ideal to combine several strategies to get the best results, but let me ask you, if you were consulting someone that had high blood pressure, what would be the ONE single most important step to take right now, today, the second they finish listening to this interview, that would make the biggest difference of all?
Frank Mangano: That’s a great question, Tom. The very first thing I recommend to my clients is to begin by evaluating their daily regimen and immediately start planning some permanent lifestyle changes. Planning is the key to achieving those healthy numbers. I’m such a believer in this that I have a “60-Day Plan” in my e-book ‘The Silent Killer Exposed’, which helps my clients build a solid plan to help them reach their goal. It’s important to slowly incorporate your changes so you stick with them. Focus only on one change at a time. Eventually, each small change will add up to bigger results.
Tom Venuto: You know, that seems like the most obvious step – planning – but I don’t think that’s what most people were expecting to hear, but I agree 100% and I think it’s great advice. I tell my clients the same thing about training and fat loss- put your goals in writing and map out your plan first, but most people want one single magic bullet type answer, some type of easy overnight solution that doesn’t require work or thought, but it’s not that simple is it?
When most people talk about reducing high blood pressure, the very first thing that pops into their mind is sodium intake. In fact, if you surveyed 100 people off the street, I bet 99 of them would bring up sodium in a conversation about high blood pressure. But if I understand this correctly, the role of sodium is misunderstood and although sodium is definitely a contributing factor, reducing blood pressure is not quite as simple as just cutting down or cutting out sodium. Is that correct and would you tell us about the relationship between sodium and blood pressure and what your recommendations are for sodium intake?
Frank Mangano: Very true, Tom. Sodium may be just one part of the problem but it’s important to know that excessive salt in the diet has been linked with hypertension. Sodium is hidden in packaged foods and in higher quantities that you may be aware of. I don’t suggest totally eliminating sodium from your diet, as that can be dangerous in itself.
Sodium is a mineral nutrient found in nearly all foods and exists in a balance with potassium that is critical for the normal functioning of every living cell.
It’s also interesting to note that eating unprocessed fruits, vegetables, meat, and fish provides all the sodium your body needs (about 500 mg a day). My recommendation for sodium intake is no more than 2400 mg per day and this is especially for individuals with high blood pressure.
Tom Venuto: Frank. I love my Starbucks – in moderation of course – and I drink mostly the organic stuff too, but I don’t really want to give up my cup or two a day. I don’t have high blood pressure, but if someone has high blood pressure, is caffeine off limits?
Frank Mangano: I know what you mean Tom – I enjoy my coffee too. Here’s the deal; caffeine does raise blood pressure but only temporarily. So you should be able to continue to have drinks that contain caffeine, unless you are sensitive to it or if you have heart disease and your doctor tells you not to have any. In a nutshell, you shouldn’t have to completely give it up, however I recommend drinking coffee in strict moderation if you have high blood pressure. That goes for the cola drinks too, because even if some brands don’t have as much caffeine as coffee, they are a hidden source of sodium. Remember, if you’re one of those people who keep a constant flow of caffeine in your system, you’re not giving your blood pressure much of a chance to go down.
Tom Venuto: Anything else in the diet that people with high blood pressure should avoid?
Frank Mangano: Absolutely. For starters, alcohol should only be consumed in moderation. I’m serious about this. The American Heart Institute also says that more than three drinks per day can raise blood pressure. Don’t go overboard. If you’re a smoker, do I really need to get into specifics on why you should quit smoking right here, right now? Smoking not only contributes to heart disease, stroke and cancer but also increases blood pressure, at least temporarily. I highly recommend that you seek professional help if you can’t quit on your own. Your heart will thank you for it.
Tom Venuto: It’s crazy how many people still smoke,isn’t it? What else, without giving away everything that’s in your book, are a few other non-drug ways to reduce high blood pressure?
Frank Mangano: Tom, I know you’ll agree with me when I say that you just can’t say enough good things about exercise! Did you know that walking could actually be more beneficial for high blood pressure in the long run than strenuous exercise? If you ask me, that’s fantastic news because not everyone is going to be able to start a vigorous exercise program! Just 30 minutes per day can make a positive impact. Try recruiting a friend to walk with or if you have a dog, take him/her with you on the walks! I also recommend using different routes so it doesn’t get boring. You can also bring a Walkman to listen to some of your favorite tunes. I’m a big oldies fan Tom so I enjoy bringing a CD packed with oldies hits!
Another way to be proactive is to drink water. Water is a great way to cleanse and refresh every part of the body, even your blood vessels. Many of the drugs prescribed to lower blood pressure are basically diuretics. Water is a natural diuretic. Drink 8-10 glasses each day to flush out excess salt and toxins that make their way into the blood stream. You can use water to replace some drinks containing caffeine that temporarily raise blood pressure.
Tom Venuto: I don’t think we can emphasize the exercise part enough. Everyone wants the magic solution – well, you want real magic? Then get off your butt and exercise. Just move, just burn calories. I’ve been teaching this for years, don’t go on diets, burn the fat, don’t diet the fat. It’s not only the real solution to losing fat it’s a true miracle for your health. And whats really sad is that we have more and more personal trainers and so called fitness guru’s these days telling people to exercise LESS today! Can you believe it? Stop and think about that for a minute. I mean, sure, there are people like executives, with great need for short, time efficient workouts, but the popularity of always looking for “the next big thing” in diets while at the same time down playing the importance of exercise is just unfathomable to me, whether we’re talking about weight loss or blood pressure or any other health issue.
But you know it’s all about selling whatever the popular program of the day is, whether that’s a few minutes in the morning to 6 second abs or whatever. I do think everyone should know that all exercise is good exercise and even short bouts of 10 or 15 minutes of exercise have health benefits, and if you’re a beginner, you can and should start slowly, but more exercise has even more benefits. Like you said, 30 minutes a day of walking is a great start, and if you add 30 or 45 minutes of weight training 3 days a week on top of that, your health and your body will just transform.
Ok, let’s change gears for a minute and talk about drugs. Blood pressure medications can be a complex topic because there are a lot of them. Are drugs the standard medical treatment for high blood pressure? Can you give us blood pressure drugs 101? Cliffs notes version.
Frank Mangano: I’ll try to keep this as simple as possible for our listeners. Blood pressure medication causes one of three main reactions. They either increase the size of the blood vessel (vasodilator); flush out the blood vessel of salt and water and create freer blood flow with less volume (diuretic); or slow down the heart beat (beta blockers). Here are the top 3 high blood pressure medications:
1. Doxazosin (brand name Wytensin) is a vasodilator that relaxes blood vessel walls.
2. Hydrochlorothiazide (under brand names Carozine, HydroDiuril or Diaqua) is a potassium reserving diuretic. It is intended to hang on to the potassium, an important mineral in lowering blood pressure that can get dangerously low with diuretic usage.
3. Acebutolo (brand name Sectral) is a beta blocker intended to decrease the heart rate and blood flow.
Tom Venuto: What are the down sides to using drugs to treat high blood pressure?
Frank Mangano: The downside to these drugs is the long list of side effects. Often the side effects are so bad that other medications have to be prescribed to counteract them. Some of the side effects include but are not limited to rapid heartbeat, impotence, fluid retention, gastrointestinal problems, dizziness, muscle weakness and especially cramping, lowering of the good cholesterol (HDL), dryness of the mouth, fever, anemia, a stuffy nose, diarrhea, heartburn, possible nightmares, swelling around the eyes and aches and pains in the joints.
Now Tom, keep in mind that all the prescription blood-pressure-reducing drugs don’t have all these symptoms all the time. But if just seeing that list of potential side effects isn’t enough for you to turn and run the other direction, what would be?
Tom Venuto: Yeah, there’s a side effect or two in there that I would definitely like to avoid. Ok, so how would you approach implementing your natural strategies if you were already on drugs? And I would assume that you would never advise someone to just stop taking their medication. How would you work with a physician on this and how open are most doctors to the idea of alternative natural approaches?
Frank Mangano: That’s correct. I would never advise someone to stop taking his or her medication. That can be dangerous. Only a qualified health care professional can help their patient make that choice. If the doctor has approved an all-natural approach, then they will most likely be weaned off their prescriptions carefully and slowly, under the care of the physician while following the all-natural approach. This is the correct path to take.
Here’s the thing, Tom. Most (not all) doctors will never tell you about all natural methods. Simply put, they can’t tell you what they don’t know. They can’t recommend something that they don’t know about. What do they know? They know that for almost every ailment, they can write a prescription for some drug that the greedy pharmacy companies are pushing. It’s not their fault. It’s how they’re trained in med school. The truth is I very much enjoy the benefits of NOT being a doctor for this reason!
A lot also depends on the relationship you have with your doctor. You should be able to openly discuss any questions or concerns you have. This is important. If you’re not comfortable with talking to your doctor, or your doctor doesn’t want to hear of an all-natural approach, I highly suggest finding another doctor you can work with and who is willing to work with you.
You don’t even have to go to the extreme of using a chiropractor or naturopath as your primary care, although these are two types of physicians who are focused on natural treatments. There are MDs out there and qualified nurse practitioners who are interested in the whole person and natural approaches to health care over getting patients in and out as quickly as possible.
Don’t get the wrong idea. I’m not against doctors and I’m not saying that no one should be taking medication. It’s just my belief that, in most cases, traditional medicine is NOT the answer and that doctors are often way too quick to pull out that prescription pad. It is also my belief that we are an over-medicated country!
Tom Venuto: I couldn’t agree more and I appreciate you saying that. In your book, you were talking about adding certain natural supplements to a diet that’s lacking in vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that are known to keep blood pressure at healthy levels, but then you said “dietary supplements are one way, but nothing is really better than a healthy eating plan that incorporates as many of the nutrients as possible in natural form.” It’s always a breath of fresh air to me when I hear someone say that, because it seems like someone always wants to sell you some miracle cure in a bottle.
In the fitness and weight loss field, I’m pretty well known for being a supplement skeptic. I don’t believe in taking pills to lose weight, for example, because I believe that even if you’re doing something like suppressing appetite successfully with a pill, and you eat less and lose weight as a result, you are still treating a symptom. If there haven’t been lifestyle changes and removal of causes, and there’s been no nutrition education, the fat will come back.
On the other hand, I’m so not into drugs, that I have a very open mind for any natural or non-drug alternatives for addressing health problems. In the case of using certain nutrients, and that could mean in the form of supplements, or specific foods, would you tell what if any natural solutions have solid scientific support for use in addressing blood pressure?
Frank Mangano: My book, “The Silent Killer Exposed details what natural supplements and vitamins you need to help maintain a healthy blood pressure, but I’ll give you my top three or four to start with. First of all, a good whole food supplement and multivitamin gives you a good base. Other than obesity, something that triggers high blood pressure is a lack of certain nutrients. Potassium is a good example. Those with high blood pressure often have potassium deficiencies.
My recommendation for potassium is that you get it from food sources only and not a supplement unless directed by a doctor. That is because too much of a good thing can harm you. You should be able to get the recommended 3,500 mg daily of potassium from foods such as bananas and potatoes. Your whole food supplements and multivitamins also provide a small percentage of the recommended daily dose too, but more importantly, they give you a base for well-rounded nutrition.
If you could only choose one other supplement to add to your diet, I would recommend a good source of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids. This comes from the fish oil supplements or from fresh, wild harvested fish.
Fish oils that provide the essential fatty acids have more health benefits than you could talk about in a 10 hour program. It lowers blood pressure, controls cholesterol, makes the arteries more flexible and has even been studied as a way to manage mental health. When it comes to blood pressure, fish oil helps by keeping blood platelets from clotting together along the artery walls. This keeps the passages open and the blood flowing through freely so that there is less pressure on the arteries.
A fish oil supplement should supply at least 3,000 mg of the cold water fish oils. Ideally you would have about three servings a week of salmon, cod or halibut, but if that isn’t happening week in and week out, you should be taking a supplement. One caution is that fish can have high levels of mercury or other metals.
Wild harvested fish is less likely to contain the mercury. Supermarkets are required to label fish as wild harvested so you’ll know it wasn’t raise in a hatchery. Also, you need to check with the manufacturer of fish oil supplements about how much mercury theirs contains. It is not usually on the label, but information they keep on file.
Another addition to the diet should be lecithin. This is best when it is used in a granule form. You just stir about a tablespoon into your slow cooking oatmeal in the morning and you’ll lower both your blood pressure and cholesterol. It also works cleaning up the sticky residues from the artery walls. Lecithin contains choline, which scientific studies have proven prevents arteriosclerosis and improves brain function and memory.
Grape seed extract has been studied extensively to see how it impacts blood pressure. The second University of California-Davis study on humans was recently done and verified that grape seed extract can significantly lower blood pressure. In this case 24 participants lowered their systolic blood pressure by 12 millimeters and diastolic blood pressure by 8 millimeters in one month with just 150 mg daily supplements. That study also gave one group 300 milligrams per day of the grape seed extract to see if it lowered blood pressure more. The larger dose did not significantly lower blood pressure more, but it did have a positive impact on cholesterol.
High Blood Pressure Diet Part 3