High Blood Pressure Case History: Andy Pewter
Andy’s father died of a heart attack when he was 59 years old, the same age as Andy is now. So when Andy’s blood pressure was recently found to be higher than normal, alarm bells started ringing, particularly as he also has a stressful job.
His GP offered him medication for hypertension, but Andy was keen to find another way, without having to rely on pills and suffer potential side-effects.
He immediately improved his diet and cut down on salt, gave up caffeine and reduced his alcohol consumption. But his blood pressure refused to come down as fast as he expected. Being an ‘A’ type personality, Andy didn’t want to hang around waiting for it to budge, so he decided a more radical ‘kickstart’ to his system was required.
He gave up all alcohol, caffeine, bread, butter, meat, fish, sugar, cheese, beans, nuts and seeds. For 7 days his diet was based entirely on fruit and vegetables. Breakfast consisted of a vegetable juice or smoothie (with one piece of fruit added in for taste). For lunch he enjoyed a large salad or another smoothie. In the evenings, Andy enjoyed a cooked meal in the evenings made, yes you guessed it, from vegetables, such as a veggie curry. He drank water or herbal teas.
The results are amazing. He lost 12 pounds, has more energy, better skin and mental clarity. Best of all, however, the ‘reboot’ has achieved its purpose and his blood pressure is at 120/80 mmHg back in the normal range!
Andy says “It’s also so interesting that my taste buds have changed and I no longer want to eat the things I used to gravitate to. I recently went to a football match and the hotdog van had completely lost its appeal!” Andy is now reintroducing the other food groups back into his diet, but is determined to avoid convenience foods and keep up a higher intake of fruit and vegetables.
Andy’s story is inspiring and illustrates yet again the profound benefits of taking control of our health. A word of caution, though, if considering a completely plant-based diet. Please note that such an extreme diet is nutritionally unbalanced as it lacks essential fats, protein and certain vitamins and minerals. It should only be undertaken if in reasonably good health, with stable blood sugar levels – for no longer than 5 days – and under the guidance of a Registered Nutritional Therapist.
In fact, it is common for people to feel worse before they feel better after implementing such strict diets, so it may be more sensible to increase vegetable intake and crowd out the bad habits more gradually (such as sugar, salt, caffeine and alcohol), especially if on medication.
About High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is the main risk factor for stroke and a major risk factor for heart attack, heart failure, kidney disease and vascular dementia. A consistent reading over 140/90 mmHg indicates high blood pressure. A reading of 120/80 mmHg or less is considered ideal. Many people are unaware they have it as there are no noticeable symptoms.
Excess salt and alcohol intake increases the risk, as does weight gain and lack of exercise. Diet and lifestyle strategies to combat hypertension include stress management, no smoking, gently increasing physical activity, decreasing salt (beware the amount of salt in bread!) and alcohol consumption, along with a diet rich in fruit and vegetables.
Adding celery, at a minimum of two stalks daily may be beneficial. Regular consumption of garlic and oily fish is also believed to be helpful, as is adequate hydration. Other useful ‘agents’ are pomegranate juice, a cup of hibiscus tea with each meal and cocoa (minimum 70%).
Interesting new research from Northumbria University has also found that drinking 60 ml of tart Montmorency cherry juice daily may significantly reduce hypertension comparable to the level achieved by medication due to its favourable effect on vascular function. Montmorency cherry juice concentrate is available under the brand name CherryActive and is available from healthstores or The Natural Dispensary on Tel. 01453-757792.