One in four American adults suffer from high blood pressure and nearly one third don’t even know they have it. For most of us, this may be how we find out that we had PKD. I know that’s how I found out. Besides accelerating kidney cyst growth, high blood pressure is the leading contributor to Heart Disease, which will unfortunately cause the death of 50% of Americans. Not to sound morbid, but in addition to our kidney disease problems, we may also be looking at another life threatening disease. In addition to eating right for our kidneys, we also need to balance food intake for the care of our heart.
A staggering new statistic that I must share is about children and High Blood Pressure. Especially, for children of PKD patients. DID YOU KNOW – that over 5 million U.S. children take blood pressure medication!? This is staggering. We can only blame our current food supply, busy lifestyles and lack of planning in our meal preparation.
The medical approach calls for drug therapy including Diuretics, Beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors, and Vasodilators or Calcium-channel blockers. Although these drugs may lower blood pressure for a short period of time, they do not address the true cause of the problem.
What Causes High Blood Pressure?
When arteries in the body (including in the kidneys) become constricted, due to the hyperactivity of their smooth muscle, cyst growth in the kidneys, or due to inflammation or the buildup of plaque, there is less of a channel through which blood can travel en route to the systems of the body, which needs the vital nutrients, and oxygen it gets via the vascular system. Naturally, when these channels are reduced in size, (the body’s organs continue to require nutrients and oxygen) the body raises its blood pressure, in order to maintain adequate levels of blood flow to the systems of the body that would otherwise become starved. The body’s blood pressure is foremost controlled in the brainstem at the medulla oblongata. This area of the brainstem, in coordination with other smooth muscles of the body, will drive the elevation of blood pressure – demonstrating the body’s most natural response to lack of nutrient and oxygen flow to organs.
Your Diet Can Raise or Lower Your Blood Pressure
Are you on a high grain, low fat regimen?
If so, I have bad news for you, because this nutritional combination is a prescription for hypertension and can absolutely devastate your health.
Groundbreaking research published in 1998 in the journal Diabetes reported that nearly two-thirds of the test subjects who were insulin resistant (IR) also had high blood pressure, and insulin resistance is directly attributable to a high sugar, high grain diet along with insufficient amounts of exercise.
So, chances are that if you have hypertension, you also have poorly controlled blood sugar levels because these two problems often go hand in hand. This relates to PKD patients very closely, because we do know that most PKD patients can also be insulin-resistant.
As your insulin level elevates, so does your blood pressure…
So what can you do to help regulate blood your pressure?
The first step is to eliminate sugar and grains from your diet, particularly foods that contain fructose. Eating sugars and grains, including any type of bread, pasta, corn, potatoes, or rice, will cause your insulin levels, and your blood pressure, to remain elevated. A study published earlier this year discovered that those who consumed 74 grams or more per day of fructose (the equivalent of about 2.5 sugary drinks) had a seventy-seven percent greater risk of having blood pressure levels of 160/100 mmHg.2 This is significant because the average American now consumes seventy grams of fructose every day!
Sugar – not salt – creates an inflammatory response in the body. While kidney/heart patients are typically advised to reduce their intake of salt in order to reduce fluid retention in the body, very little is advised about sugar. While reducing fluid retention may lower blood pressure in the short term, the elimination of arterial inflammation is more vital in the healing of this condition.
Along with sugar, damaged fats and toxins are also major dietary contributors to arterial inflammation. The complete elimination of these elements has been shown to effectively reduced blood pressure without the help of medication or other natural treatments.
Fitness and Blood Flow- The Mayo Clinic has called exercise a “drug-free approach to lowering high blood pressure.” Regular cardiovascular activity, such as surge training, promotes healthy blood flow and delivery of oxygen to the cells of the body, and has been shown to reduce average blood pressure by 5 to 10 points, over time.
Peace of Mind- Although our bodies are designed to deal with stress in rare “fight or flight” situations, our high-paced, stressful lifestyles cause the continual release of cortisol and adrenaline, leading to higher blood pressure. To offset this abnormal hormone pattern, examine your stressors, and work to limit them through daily relaxation techniques, meditation, quiet music, and rest. Daily exercise walks, breathing exercises and hobbies will not only contribute to your physical fitness, but your maximized mind will improve your cardiovascular function as well. Of course, seek your physician’s approval, before starting any exercise regimen.
We know that high blood pressure can be preventable in some cases, and controlled in the PKD population. High blood pressure is also known as the “silent killer” since it has no initial symptoms but can lead to long-term disease and complications. This is exceptionally dangerous due to the fact that most Americans mistakenly judge their health on how they feel, hence silent killer. If this problem is not dealt with properly, the complications can lead to heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, congestive heart failure, aortic aneurysms, and many more. There is a reason that the pressure rises and we need to find the cause to fix it.
Information or materials posted on this blog are intended for general informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, medical opinion, diagnosis or treatment. Any information posted on this blog is not a substitute for patient specific medical information or dietary advice. Please consult with your healthcare team or dietitian for more complete dietary plan and recommendations.