How to Prevent High Blood Pressure with Diet
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How to Prevent High Blood Pressure with Diet

October 14, 2019


How to Prevent High Blood Pressure The most comprehensive
and systematic analysis of causes of death
ever undertaken allows us to answer
questions like how many lives could we save
if people cut back on soda? The answer?
Our best estimate: 299,521. Soda isn’t just bad
because it’s empty calories, so it’s not a
health-promoting food. It appears to be an actively
death-promoting food. Of course not as deadly as
bacon, bologna, ham, hot dogs. 800,000 deaths every year, killing twice as many women
than domestic violence, five times more people than
all illegal drugs combined. But eating more whole grains could
save 1.7 million lives every year. More vegetables,
1.8 million lives. If only we ate more nuts and seeds,
two and a half million lives saved, but fruit is apparently
what the world needs most (they didn’t look at beans). 4.9 million lives hang
in the balance every year, and the cure is not drugs
or vaccines; the cure is fruit. One reason why plant-based diets
can save so many millions is because the #1 killer risk factor
in the world is high blood pressure, laying to waste 9 million
people year after year. In the United States,
high blood pressure affects nearly 78 million —
that’s one in three of us — and as we age our pressures
get higher and higher, such that by age 60,
it strikes more than half. If it affects most of us
when we get older, maybe it’s less a disease
and more just a natural, inevitable consequence of aging?
No. We’ve known for nearly a century that
high blood pressure need never occur. Researchers measured
the blood pressure of a thousand people
in rural Kenya who ate a diet centered
around whole plant foods: whole grains, beans, vegetables,
fruit, and dark green leafies. Up until age 40, the blood
pressures of rural Africans were about the same as
Europeans and Americans, down around 120s over 80s,
but as Westerners age, their pressures creep up
such that by age 60 the average person may be hypertensive,
exceeding 140 over 90. But what about those not
following the Western diet? Their pressures improved with age. Not only did they not
develop hypertension, their blood pressures
actually got better. The whole 140 over 90
cut-off is arbitrary. Just like studies show that the
lower the cholesterol the better, there’s really no safe cholesterol
level above about 150. Blood pressure studies also support the kind of ‘lower the better’ approach
to blood pressure reduction. Even people who start out with
blood pressure under 120 over 80 appear to benefit from
blood pressure reduction. But is it possible to get blood
pressures under 110 over 70? It’s not just possible, it’s normal
for those eating healthy enough diets. Over two years at
a rural Kenyan hospital, 1800 patients were admitted. How many cases of high blood
pressure did they find? Zero. Wow, so they must have
had low rates of heart disease. No, they had no rates of heart disease. Not low risk, no risk. Not a single case of arteriosclerosis
— our #1 killer — was found.

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