High Blood Pressure is a sillent killer

High Blood Pressure is a sillent killer&nbsp | &nbspPhoto Credit:&nbspiStock Images

Key Highlights

  • Dr Greger speaks on how hypertension medicines harm in the long run and one should seek methods to lower the dependence on them.

  • Citing several published studies and findings, Dr Greger tells how fasting methods and plant-based diets can help beat high blood pressure.

  • A whole food plant-based diet can be used to help lock in the benefits of fasting to kickstart the reversal of high blood pressure.

Fasting has been in practice for several centuries, says Dr Michael Greger (MD) in his video titled “How to lower Blood Pressure naturally with lifestyle changes“. He cites the case study of 18 obese patients who had been put through prolonged (60 days) therapeutic starvation in the 1970s to illustrate several clinical observations.

Dr Greger is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized speaker on nutrition, food safety, and public health issues. A founding member and Fellow of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, Dr Greger is licensed as a general practitioner specializing in clinical nutrition. 

One of the consistent side effects he says that the early researchers into the “fasting for weight loss studies” (water-only diets closely monitored by medical experts) was a fall in blood pressure. Dr Greger says that the studies showed how patients diagnosed with hypertension who were on fasting had to completely STOP taking blood pressure medicines or the pressure would drop to dangerously low levels.

Once you start taking food again, Dr Greger says, the blood pressure would go right back up BUT remarkably, NOT as high as they were before.

Other benefits of fasting (apart from weight loss):

Natural approaches to lowering high blood pressure can work better than drugs because you’re treating the underlying cause and can end up having only good side effects. Dr Greger cites the case of a woman who was afflicted so severely by Rheumatoid Arthritis that ALMOST every joint and bone in her body hurt. She decided to go on to medically supervised fasting. At that time, her blood pressure was in the range of 170/80 mm Hg and she was on medication for hypertension and arthritis. She weighed 106.6 kg.

The woman — then weaned off all medication — lost 9.1 kg during the 8 weeks of dietary intervention before beginning the fast. 

At the start of the fast, her weight stood at 94.5 kg and her blood pressure was 130/78 mm HG without medication.

Within 4 days of the fast, her arthritic pain decreased and her pressure dropped. After 24 days of fasting, the woman had lost 84.5 kg and her blood pressure had normalised to 110/80 mm Hg. She is on no medication and remains in remission.

  1. Adding just a plant-based diet (more fruits and vegetables) to the diet of a hypertensive person brings down the BP by 7 points, Dr Greger points out. 
  2. Cutting down meat consumption by taking a combination diet of plant-based food and lesser meat can bring down blood pressure by 11 points, says Dr Greger.
  3. Daily drinkers can drop alcohol and watch a 5 point drop in High BP.
  4. Losing 10 pounds in weight can cause a 7-point drop in systolic pressure.
  5. Regular aerobic exercises for at least 3 months can help you drop 9 points off the BP measurement.
  6. Cutting out sodium (found in your common/table salt) cut down BP upto 15 points.
  7. Purely plant-based diets combined (+) with a cut in sodium intake helped BP drop by 18 points.
  8. Dr Greger cites the medically-supervised water-only fasting diet that helped a patient drop 37 points.
  9. But Dr Greger also warns that NO ONE should take up the water-only fast unsupervised by doctors for more than a day.
  10. So he cites the case of a 300-calories a day diet that a study group took up for a brief period with fruit juices, standardised quantities of vegetable soups etc. allowed within that limit. People were not in-patients and moved about freely in their professional and personal circles — albeit monitored by doctors. After a few weeks, their blood pressure was found to be 15 points lower on average as against their hypertensive count.

Stick to healthier eating to retain gains made through fasting:

The effect of fasting to lower blood pressure compared to medications, cutting down on alcohol, meat and salt, eating more fruits and vegetables, or eating completely plant-based is far stronger, it is apparent. But Dr Greger says that to retain the benefit would be easier for those who follow up the preliminary fast to long-term compliance with health-protective diets — which unfortunately has little appeal to people accustomed to or meretriciously salty and greasy meals. 

Re-sensitised nerves will help you say no to greasy, salty foods:

A whole food plant-based diet can be used to help lock in the benefits of fasting to kickstart the reversal of high blood pressure. So what Dr Greger here is hinting at is much similar to the purification and detoxification rituals prescribed in Ayurveda. He speaks of how the water-only diet is a period of sensory deprivation for taste nerves. After just a week of water-only fasting, regular, normal, healthy food feels and tastes good again. It re-sensitises our taste buds so that we can eat things that taste great and with less guilt.

Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purposes only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or a professional healthcare provider if you have any specific questions about any medical matter.