The average American’s lifetime risk for developing high blood pressure is 90%, even using the lax definition of hypertension in clinical studies (that typically don’t label a BP high unless it is 140/90 mmHg or higher, even though we know that, for example, risk for stroke and cardiovascular begin to rise with a systolic, or top, value of only 115 mmHg).
Here’s a checklist that, if followed, allow the majority of people with high blood pressure (BP) to reduce both systolic and diastolic values over time and be freed of the need for prescription antihypertensive medication:
- Eat NO grains or sugars–Remember: from a blood sugar standpoint, most grains are worse than sugar in their blood sugar raising potential. The safety of “complex” carbohydrates in grains is complete fiction: their glycemic indexes are higher than sucrose.
- Don’t limit fat intake–Yes: eat the fat on your pork or steak, eat bone marrow, have some liver, use more organic butter or ghee, use more coconut oil.
- Correct vitamin D deficiency–I aim to achieve a 25-hydroxy vitamin D level of 60-70 ng/ml, a level usually achieved with 4000-8000 units (oil-based gelcap or liquids, not tablets) per day. This helps restore insulin responsiveness/reverse insulin resistance.
- Supplement omega-3 fatty acids–from fish oil only, not krill oil, flaxseed, or chia. (Flaxseed and chia are wonderful, but do not provide EPA and DHA.) I believe ideal intake is in the range of 3000-3600 mg EPA + DHA per day, divided in two. EPA + DHA blunt the postprandial (after-meal) surge in digestive byproducts (chylomicrons and VLDL) that oppose insulin.
- Correct bowel flora–Start with a high-potency probiotic (e.g., 50 billion CFUs per day with at least a dozen species of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria) for several weeks along with enthusiastic consumption of fermented foods, but it is even more important long-term to properly nourish bowel flora with prebiotic fibers/resistant starches, as discussed here. Properly feeding bowel flora yields fatty acid metabolites that increase your body’s responsiveness to insulin and reduce blood sugar.
- Supplement magnesium–e.g., magnesium malate, to provide 400-500 mg “elemental” magnesium per day), for a modest advantage in restoring insulin responsiveness. Even better, make your own source of the highly-absorbable form, magnesium bicarbonate, through my recipe for Magnesium Water.
- Fast intermittently–Brief periods of fasting, e.g., 15-36 hours, allow fatty liver (present to varying degrees in everyone with high blood sugars) to recede, a huge advantage in restoring insulin responsiveness. Be sure to hydrate more than usual during any fasting period.
- Sleep adequately–Not a minor factor, as sleep deprivation increases carb cravings and increases snacking, while also blocking insulin. Most people need 7 1/2 hours per night. You might have to make friends with melatonin and tryptophan to manage your circadian rhythm.
- Be active–including avoiding prolonged sitting.
If you are taking any drugs for blood pressure, you will need to discuss reducing or stopping one or more agents with your healthcare provider even before you begin the program, as blood pressure can drop precipitously within the first few days and you do not want to risk low blood pressures. If your doctor refuses or dismisses your request, find a smarter doctor, one who acts as your advocate and supporter, not an obstructionist.
Likewise, anyone on insulin or oral diabetes drugs, especially glyburide, glipizide, and glimepiride, should talk to their healthcare provider about an immediate reduction in dosage or even eliminating one or more of them, since you do not want any hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Once again, if your doctor refuses to work with you or tells you this is stupid, find a new doctor ASAP. Doctors should be experts in reversing diabetes but you will find that the majority are not, despite knowing how to prescribe the drugs.
There you have it. Should you give it a try, be sure to come back and report your experience. Know that the Wheat Belly Total Health and Undoctored programs are intended to restore genuine health. It might take the form of freeing you from type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, or fibromyalgia. It might mean reversing the phenomena of polycystic ovary disease or irritable bowel syndrome. It typically also means being freed from all the long-term health consequences of high blood pressure that blood pressure drugs do NOT protect you from.