What is it?
Hypertension means your blood pressure is higher than the recommended level. It is an extremely serious condition and can lead to strokes and heart attacks. Research published in 2003 showed that 62,000 unnecessary deaths were due to poor blood pressure control.
New figures from Public Health England (PHE) reveal that diseases caused by high blood pressure are estimated to cost the NHS more than £2 billion every year. More than five million people are unaware they have high blood pressure, yet it affects more than one in four adults and is one of the biggest risk factors for premature death and disability in England. High blood pressure, which can often be prevented or controlled through lifestyle changes, accounts for 12 per cent of all visits to GPs in England. www.gov.uk
Cause and Effect
Blood pressure is caused when the major blood vessels leading from the heart and lungs become furred up and constricted and the elasticity of the arterial walls is reduced, making the vessels very stiff. This increases the internal pressure of the blood flowing through the arteries thus making the bloody pressure very high.
Blood pressure is measured as two readings; these can be interpreted as the diastolic (resting) and systolic (pumping) pressures. When the systolic is more than 100, this means that during the moments between pumps (or beats) of the heart, the pressure of the blood in the vessels is extremely high and there is no let-up of that pressure. During the beating or the pump action, this pressure will increase as the heart puts extra pumping pressure into the system. Average blood pressure should be 120/80, which is a perfect score. The maximum it should be is 100+ [your age] over 80 to 90. When the lower figure is higher than 100, the body is under severe high pressure (hypertension) and this is when damage can occur.
There are many reasons for hypertension and the ones we have little control over are congenital defects of your blood vessels (which you are born with), age and ethnicity. But we can focus on lifestyle factors which can make a positive difference to our blood pressure. Common causes include poor diet (not enough fresh food and too high salt), lack of exercise, being overweight, smoking, overuse of alcohol and illegal drugs, poor sleep and increased levels of stress. www.webmd.com
Other contributory factors can include sleep apnoea, chronic kidney disease, thyroid problems and certain medications including birth control pills, cold remedies, decongestants, over-the-counter pain relief and even some prescription medication, so it is important to check the contra-indicators of any prescription drugs. Hypertension is serious and lifestyle changes should be addressed immediately as the medical drugs offered may cause unpleasant and unwanted side effects.
What to Avoid
As with many medical ailments, the normal advice is to stop smoking, cut down on alcohol and avoid high human intervention (HI) foods as well as the following specifics, which may help you reduce your blood pressure in a matter of weeks.
Caffeine – Drinking less tea, coffee and other caffeine-based drinks will benefit anyone with hypertension. Unrefined sugar is also something to decrease from your diet, and this may go hand in hand.
Fats – Reduce your trans fats and try to avoid foods that are too high in omega-6.
Salt – Cut your salt intake to less than 6g a day, as per NHS recommendation. www.nhs.uk
What to include
At the Juice Pharmacy, we believe it makes sense to start with the inclusion of vegetable juice to help reduce your blood pressure. Research has found adding 1-2 cups of vegetable juice daily was associated with a reduction in blood pressure as the juice drinker’s intake of vegetables not only helped them reach the minimum guidelines but also those who were pre-hypertensive showed a significant decrease in blood pressure during a 12-week study. Increasing your intake of vegetables and fruits will help increase your intake of anti-oxidants necessary for reducing free radical damage. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Beetroot – Studies and clinical trials have shown remarkable effects from incorporating beetroot juice into the diet and the correlation between this and reduced blood pressure. A study conducted at Bart’s London School of Medicine and the Peninsula Medical School concluded that drinking just 500ml of juice a day resulted in reduced blood pressure just one hour after drinking the juice. After just three hours, the resting pressure between heartbeats reduced by 8mm Hg in juice drinkers. The key beneficial ingredient appears to be the vegetable’s nitrate, which is also found in green leafy vegetables. www.news.bbc.co.uk
Garlic – This is an interesting addition to your hypertension-lowering juicy pharmacy, as it’s been found to help lower blood pressure, thin the blood and prevent blockages in blood vessels, thereby lowering blood pressure. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Magnesium – When it comes to helping the blood vessels relax, magnesium is a vital mineral to call upon, as this in turn helps to naturally lower blood pressure. Research has shown that a diet high in magnesium-rich foods could reduce the risk of stroke, which is a key factor given that hypertension causes 50 per cent of ischemic strokes in the world. Magnesium works with calcium to support proper blood pressure and protect the heart. The reason we are now so magnesium deficient is due to the soil in which our foods are grown, the increase in digestive diseases and distress, the prevalence of chronic illness, stress and the many medications so many people now take which damage the gut and stop us absorbing many vital nutrients. Even glutathione, the body’s most powerful anti-oxidant (anti-oxidants help to combat free radical damage among many other things) requires magnesium for its synthesis. Plant-based sources of magnesium include spinach, flax seeds, almonds, watercress, avocado, banana, melon and raw cacao. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Omega-3 – Reducing inflammation is one of the main aims for any lifestyle disease and omega-3 is well known for its anti-inflammatory properties. When it comes to hypertension, research has found it can lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol, reduce plaque build-up in the arteries and reduce the chance of heart attacks and strokes. Natural plant-based sources of omega-3 include walnuts, chia seeds, flax seeds (which are also good sources of magnesium and selenium), hemp seeds, Brussels sprouts, kale, spinach and watercress, so keeping your juices green is a positive way to support your body’s ability to manage your blood pressure. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Potassium – When it comes to counteracting the negative effects of sodium and guarding against hypertension, potassium is the mineral to add to your diet. Once again, nature wraps this up in handy packages such as avocado, melon, banana, spinach and watercress, to name a few. Coconut water is another good source of potassium and can make a great base for a quick and easy smoothie.
Tomatoes – These juicy red fruits contain important nutrients, such as niacin, folate and vitamin B6, which have been associated with the reduction of heart disease risk. When heated, the phyto-nutrient lypocene becomes even more bioavailable, so try consuming tomatoes in a healthy homemade soup.
The Juice Recipes
The Anti-Vampire Shot
Juice 1 clove of garlic and ½ an unwaxed lemon – down in one, and no garlic breath!
Ease The Pressure – taken from the Funky Fresh Juice Book
3 small bulbs raw beetroot
2 Golden Delicious apples
1 large handful black or red grapes
Simply juice the lot, pour over ice and enjoy. When juicing grapes don’t forget to pack them in the juicer tightly to get the most juice (making sure your machine is off when you pack them down!)
250ml coconut water
1 large handful spinach
1 tbsp milled flaxseed
½ banana (ripe)
½ avocado (ripe)
1 squeeze lime
Put all ingredients into a blender and whizz up until smooth.
Please note, it is impossible to give a definitive list as what supports one person can be a trigger food or allergen for another. You must stay your own juice detective at all times and listen to how your own body responds to certain foods and always consult with your healthcare provider when making changes to your diet which may affect your medication. Please be aware that we are not doctors, so it is important to consult with your GP or medical practitioner BEFORE making any changes to your diet. The suggestions above are not meant as an alternative to any current medical treatment so please DO NOT stop taking any medications you are on. They are also not an endorsement of their effectiveness, or a recommendation that they should be followed but instead, are provided for informational purposes. None of the information on the Natural Juice Therapy site is intended or implied to treat, cure or prevent any condition or disease.