According to the CDC, there are about 75 million Americans with hypertension, which equates to 1 in every 3 adults. That’s a staggering number, especially when you factor in the fact that this number doesn’t include children who are also increasingly becoming a statistic of this chronic disease.
So, the big question for me has always been…why? Why are these numbers so alarmingly high and more importantly, why do African American’s make up the largest percentage of Americans diagnosed with hypertension?
Could Lifestyle Be the Root Cause of Hypertension?
High blood pressure can be caused by many things, but I would venture to say that most people with high blood pressure developed it because of their lifestyle of eating salty, highly processed foods and drinking sugary drinks- with or without alcohol.
But no judgement from me! I, like everyone else, enjoy eating out with friends and having a good sugary, adult drink. After all, that’s how we make beautiful memories to look back on. Right? Enjoying a meal with friends gives us our—remember when we did this? Or, my favorite phrase— Back in the day we used to….you fill in the blank. If you’re looking for receipts-that’s my husband and me (I’m the curly girl in the middle) celebrating my 30th birthday in NYC at Soul Cafe.
And now, we fast forward years later and discover that all of that wining and dining gave some of us a lot more than fun memories. So, instead of reminiscing about that mind-altering fluid that you sucked through that cute little straw—You know, the straw with the umbrella—you’re focused on the life-giving blood that has to FORCE its way through your veins. A condition called hypertension.
Having said that, I want to help you back away from the restaurant table and more importantly, Put. The. Straw. Down!
And, while I might not be judging- my body is, and so is yours! So, when we mindlessly eat poorly and drink alcohol or any sugary drink, our bodies are keeping score and reporting those numbers to our doctors with a tell-all score card called a lab report, people!
And if the lab report doesn’t get you, then the old gauge and cuff will. You know– (tongue twister alert) the sphygmomanometer (It’s pronounced sphyg·mo·ma·nom·e·ter in case you were wondering) that the nurse uses to your measure blood pressure.
Moreover, if you’re African American, the odds are that overtime, this lifestyle WILL take a toll on your health because you are consuming way too much salt and not enough potassium. Plus, eating high carb meals and throwing in a drink or two can lead to insulin resistance.
Now, why did I single out African Americans? That’s a good question! I singled out African Americans because we are more prone to being potassium deficient than caucasians.
Let that register because I know your doctor has never told you this. And while I never knew this big fact either, my body has always revealed this very critical fact to me.
How I Lowered My Blood Pressure Through Diet
I’ve had a lot of back and forth with high blood pressure because of my diet. Actually, having high blood pressure is what prompted me to become a Certified Holistic Health Coach. I couldn’t just accept the adage that high blood pressure ran in my family because that made me feel so powerless.
I know there is this thing called genetics-I hear ya. However, when I was born, I didn’t have high blood pressure and I’m guessing, neither did you! Nor, did I have it in my 20’s or with my pregnancies. Therefore, I’m inclined to believe that my life style might have been a contributing factor to my developing hypertension.
But, how? This is what I kept asking myself over and over again. What’s in my diet that’s effecting my blood pressure? I reduced the sodium and ate a banana, but nothing changed.
So, I decided to do something drastically different, and I did this long before I formally started studying nutrition at IIN. I pick up a copy of Dr. Colbert’s book, “Toxic Relief” at a local grocery store and followed the detox protocol that was outlined in the book—And it worked! It ACTUALLY worked! I no longer needed to take blood pressure medicine and that blew me away.
I told everyone who would listen that hypertension wasn’t necessarily the result of eating too much salt, but rather, it was the result of my eating too much sugar and/or carbs. I say this because when I was on the diet, I stopped eating out and cooked only fresh, whole foods and added my normal amount of salt. My blood pressure dropped, and my medicine was reduced to almost nothing. So, in my mind-it wasn’t the salt that caused me to have hypertension-it was the carbs.
Even up until this day, I could never figure out why the detox diet worked, and my doctors could not provide me with any answers either. But then recently, I discovered research done by both, Science Direct and Johns Hopkins that stated that African Americans are more prone to hypertension because our bodies act as if they are potassium deficient.
That was an Aha! moment for me.
All of a sudden, I made the connection as to why my blood pressure becomes normal when I go on a detox diet or even a ketogenic diet—I naturally start eating more veggies like Kale, spinach, and zucchini EVERY day. Therefore, my salt to potassium ratios are balanced.
We have low potassium because we are either not consuming enough potassium, or we are losing it at a faster rate because of our diet. Having low potassium leads to hypertension because of the inverse relationship between our salt intake and our potassium intake. Your salt to potassium ratio in your diet should be 1:4 or better. For every 1000 mg of salt you eat, you should also eat 3700-4700 mg of potassium.
How to Get More Potassium
Dr. Axe has a list of potassium rich foods that can help you increase your blood serum levels. Please note that these numbers are calculated using a daily value (DV) of 3700 mg of potassium per day:
I can truly attest to the fact that diet does lower your blood pressure and can even get you off of your medication. If you need help trying the detox diet, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment below.