5

votes

Hypertension still a problem on paleo

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created April 03, 2012 at 7:11 AM

Male, 27yrs, 183cm, 86kg, fairly active lifestyle including sports and regular exercise, low stress job. (I need to put this in my signature or something)

I was diagnosed with high blood pressure about 8 years ago, doctors did just about every test you could think of and found no causation for my hypertension other than possible work stress, but even that was considered negligible. At its worst, my blood pressure was about 190/96, borderline death is what my doctor said and immediately put me on Atacand, an angiotensin II receptor antagonist, I am still taking this drug daily which is controlling my blood pressure adequately.

Since then I've gone through a lot of lifestyle changes for the better, I got out of my stressful office job, went traveling for a year and now studying to become a massage therapist which I love and have no stressful feelings towards. My diet has constantly been improving (as far as a SAD diet can go) and exercise has been consistent.

I've now been on the paleo diet for about 2-3 months and have seen quite a few clear health improvements, I've lost a bit of gut and general body fat and have a bit more energy now after a few weeks of playing around with macronutrient percentages and caloric intake to find the right amounts for me. Food tends to go a lot longer before I get hungry again. For example today I mostly skipped lunch and just had a couple of carrots and an apple as a few snacks and it's now 4:30pm.

However, one thing that I was really hoping the paleo diet would improve is my blood pressure but it hasn't really made any changes to it.

Since quitting my job and traveling now its been about 140-150 / 60-80 unmedicated.

According to conventional wisdom, a diet with a main emphasis on whole grains and fibre is recommended. Followed by fruits and veggies, low fat/no fat dairy, meat, fish, poultry, nuts, seeds and legumes, in that order. So nearly the complete opposite of paleo. http://dashdiet.org/

My typical diet includes a lot of eggs as a staple, coconut milk, mixed nuts and seeds, apples, bananas, kiwi fruit, cranberries, peanut butter, olive oil, bacon, beef, chicken, pork, lamb, tuna, salmon. Full fat cows milk for coffee every day, 1/2 tsp sugar, cheese occasionally. I take whey isolate, vitamin b complex, vitamin c, saw palmetto, zinc and omega 3 supplements.

Sorry for the lengthy post, there are always lots of variables when it comes to hypertension so I wanted to make sure I covered everything.

At this point I'm open to suggestions, my goal is to be able to kick the medication completely which should be possible given that there is nothing medically wrong with me or causing the hypertension.

81348acb7b886e2b32ca915d250268f3

(1022)

on April 05, 2012
at 10:06 PM

Do you know what the actual active nutrient in hibiscus tea is that lowers BP?

81348acb7b886e2b32ca915d250268f3

(1022)

on April 05, 2012
at 10:04 PM

Oh thanks for pointing that out Johan. That makes a lot more sense. I think it's time I did keep a record of my diet for a week or so and see how I score.

C187225c4974db70bce57adf0cbf3052

(0)

on April 04, 2012
at 03:04 AM

Be careful with that list as it's a bit misleading since it shows potassium per a 200 calorie serving. If you click on the first item (espresso), for example, you'll see that there is about 35 mg per fl oz--not a lot, so from four eight-ounce espressos you'd be getting less than a fourth of the RDA.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on April 03, 2012
at 06:05 PM

My diastolic (lower) number is great now but systolic is still running a little higher than I'd like. I'm starting to work with my breathing now because I've realized I do tend to have a high rate of respiration.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on April 03, 2012
at 05:07 PM

That's interesting about some people being salt sensitive. From the Cochrane reviews, I was under the impression that the whole idea of salt affecting BP was baloney, but it's plausible it's only baloney on average. Still, this must be a small minority, no?

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on April 03, 2012
at 05:05 PM

That's weird, Melissa. I've always had low-normal BP, and it didn't change when I drastically lowered carbs. If LC lowered BP in general, not just lowering pathologically high BP, you would think I would get hypo from it, too. Are you eating enough sodium?

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on April 03, 2012
at 04:06 PM

I concur with this. I have HYPOtension and low carb lowers my blood pressure quite dangerously. If I had HYPERtension this would be great. You are also going to have to look at sodium in your diet. Some people have genes that mean that salt affects blood pressure, others do not. The salt-sensitive people are going to have to watch the sodium content of their diet. I would use CronOMeter or Fitday. I would switch to a diet of mainly grass-fed beef/lamb + optional green salads.

81348acb7b886e2b32ca915d250268f3

(1022)

on April 03, 2012
at 12:21 PM

I haven't had a blood test recently but cholesterol and sodium levels have never been of concern in the past. I do plan on getting another post paleo blood test soon though to see how its going. As for potassium, just looking through the foods there, I don't think I'd be anywhere near deficient, just from coffee alone I'd be getting more than enough, I drink about 3-4 coffees a day. The RDA is about 4700mg/day according to a quick google search

81348acb7b886e2b32ca915d250268f3

(1022)

on April 03, 2012
at 12:09 PM

I do take Mg on nights after exercise for muscle recovery but due to the bowel movements the next day I don't use it every night, as I don't think it's healthy on the colon/digestive system.

3bad4b0b105bf44d7650e7fdfbe15cbd

(860)

on April 03, 2012
at 12:08 PM

I'm 23 and have had borderline hypertension for the past 3 or 4 years. Usually 135/80. Changing to a paleo diet caused no visible changes at all. Everyone I know describes me as "very fit" and I have no weight or body composition issues. I think sometimes there are issues that diet alone can't address.

7841848bd0c27c64353c583fb7971242

(7275)

on April 03, 2012
at 12:00 PM

Speaking of which, have you had your blood values for sodium and potassium checked out? Have you plugged a week's worth of food into a nutrition analyzer to see how much sodium and potassium you're getting? Those should give you more information as to whether your Na/K intakes are imbalanced.

7841848bd0c27c64353c583fb7971242

(7275)

on April 03, 2012
at 11:58 AM

Here's a list of foods from Nutrition Data that are high in potassium and low in sodium: http://nutritiondata.self.com/services/referral?messageKey=44b55017519ca817c18a5e5ba5a84ddf ... Some of the top entries include decaf coffee, pumpkin, summer squash, bamboo shoots, taro shoots, steamed lambsquarters, peaches, grapefruits, nectarines, longans, fiddlehead ferns, oranges, cherries, plums, pears, tomatillos, bananas.

Bf57bcbdc19d4f1728599053acd020ab

(5043)

on April 03, 2012
at 11:46 AM

I'm def going to try this, thanks Beth. My BP was in the 160s/90s before going primal, but it's still a bit elevated, (130-140/85-95) and I'm frustrated. There's no discernable cause for mine either, I exercise plenty, not particuarly stressed, my weight is on the low side of normal (F 5'11" 145lbs). I supp with magnesium and have a light hand with the salt and eat about 1/2 avocado per day. Grrr.

81348acb7b886e2b32ca915d250268f3

(1022)

on April 03, 2012
at 11:14 AM

Potassium eh? Can you tell me more about how you get enough? Also interested in the rest of your diet if it's not too much trouble. I do eat avocados, though in Australia they are going out of season and getting more expensive, so at the moment I try to consume maybe 1/2 - 1 per day.

81348acb7b886e2b32ca915d250268f3

(1022)

on April 03, 2012
at 11:07 AM

I walk a lot, I couldn't really put a number on it, but with walking the dog, going to uni, going to work, plus playing sports like soccer and mountain biking etc I'd say I've got it covered.

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8 Answers

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5
Cef91a15e379e984aefefb06209da44d

on April 03, 2012
at 08:40 AM

I, too, had blood pressure issues. It was recommended to me to eat more foods with potassium (prunes, avocados, etc.) on a daily basis. This small change for me has helped a lot (I now completely off BP meds!) Good luck!

7841848bd0c27c64353c583fb7971242

(7275)

on April 03, 2012
at 12:00 PM

Speaking of which, have you had your blood values for sodium and potassium checked out? Have you plugged a week's worth of food into a nutrition analyzer to see how much sodium and potassium you're getting? Those should give you more information as to whether your Na/K intakes are imbalanced.

7841848bd0c27c64353c583fb7971242

(7275)

on April 03, 2012
at 11:58 AM

Here's a list of foods from Nutrition Data that are high in potassium and low in sodium: http://nutritiondata.self.com/services/referral?messageKey=44b55017519ca817c18a5e5ba5a84ddf ... Some of the top entries include decaf coffee, pumpkin, summer squash, bamboo shoots, taro shoots, steamed lambsquarters, peaches, grapefruits, nectarines, longans, fiddlehead ferns, oranges, cherries, plums, pears, tomatillos, bananas.

81348acb7b886e2b32ca915d250268f3

(1022)

on April 03, 2012
at 11:14 AM

Potassium eh? Can you tell me more about how you get enough? Also interested in the rest of your diet if it's not too much trouble. I do eat avocados, though in Australia they are going out of season and getting more expensive, so at the moment I try to consume maybe 1/2 - 1 per day.

81348acb7b886e2b32ca915d250268f3

(1022)

on April 03, 2012
at 12:21 PM

I haven't had a blood test recently but cholesterol and sodium levels have never been of concern in the past. I do plan on getting another post paleo blood test soon though to see how its going. As for potassium, just looking through the foods there, I don't think I'd be anywhere near deficient, just from coffee alone I'd be getting more than enough, I drink about 3-4 coffees a day. The RDA is about 4700mg/day according to a quick google search

C187225c4974db70bce57adf0cbf3052

(0)

on April 04, 2012
at 03:04 AM

Be careful with that list as it's a bit misleading since it shows potassium per a 200 calorie serving. If you click on the first item (espresso), for example, you'll see that there is about 35 mg per fl oz--not a lot, so from four eight-ounce espressos you'd be getting less than a fourth of the RDA.

81348acb7b886e2b32ca915d250268f3

(1022)

on April 05, 2012
at 10:04 PM

Oh thanks for pointing that out Johan. That makes a lot more sense. I think it's time I did keep a record of my diet for a week or so and see how I score.

3
7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on April 03, 2012
at 11:40 AM

There is a device that's sold that uses music and tones to signal you to slow down your breathing to about 6 breaths a minute. Doing this for about 15-20 minutes a day has been shown to lower BP. I've used that device (and others that require you to do regular slow, deep breathing like HeartMath). Just my n=1, but that plus weight loss got me off BP meds in early 2011.

But you don't need a device ... just a watch with a second hand (and maybe some nice classical or other soothing music in the background). See if you can slow your breathing (comfortably, don't stress) to 6 or 7 per minute. 6 breaths per minute would be a 5-second inhale and a 5-second exhale (tho I like to do 4-second in, 6 second out). There's an NIH study that supports this approach too.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on April 03, 2012
at 06:05 PM

My diastolic (lower) number is great now but systolic is still running a little higher than I'd like. I'm starting to work with my breathing now because I've realized I do tend to have a high rate of respiration.

Bf57bcbdc19d4f1728599053acd020ab

(5043)

on April 03, 2012
at 11:46 AM

I'm def going to try this, thanks Beth. My BP was in the 160s/90s before going primal, but it's still a bit elevated, (130-140/85-95) and I'm frustrated. There's no discernable cause for mine either, I exercise plenty, not particuarly stressed, my weight is on the low side of normal (F 5'11" 145lbs). I supp with magnesium and have a light hand with the salt and eat about 1/2 avocado per day. Grrr.

3
D8943072358128638901aa8faa6ba99e

(56)

on April 03, 2012
at 10:40 AM

Within 6 weeks of paleo I dropped my BP from 150/110 to 120/85, no meds, and from 180 lbs to 160 (5' 10"). But:

1- I bike or walk 10 to 15 hrs a week

2- I only eat 50-125 grams of carbs a day, fruit in moderation, only low glycemic (a few berries, maybe an apple, tomatoes, other low glycemic veggies, etc.), no coconut milk (that usually has added sugar), ocassional coconut water, and only after working out, diluted with water and almond milk, maybe 1/4 of a cup, occasionally one dried fig after dinner if I am really craving sweets. No refined sugars whatsoever; 2 drops of stevia in my tea. Some nuts, sp macademias and almonds. I cook in lard, coconut oil. Lots of fish and sushi, several times a week.

3- I cut the coffee completely and now drink tea, a cup or two a day. No diet sodas. Only water.

4- A glass of red wine and perhaps a mixed drink occasionally, maybe twice a week.

7- No legumes, only grass fed meats, cheese, eggs, butter, etc. No milk, only pure cream, pasture fed, for the tea. No vegetable oils, other than avocado and olive oils in salads. It is critical to maintain your Omega-6's and Omega-3's at a 4:1 ratio or less.

8- During workouts, I eat beef jerky, pemmican and Larabars, but only about 20 grams of carbs an hour and only if the workout is intense and lasts more than 2 hours.

1
100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on April 03, 2012
at 03:10 PM

A low carb diet lowers high blood pressure, which isn't surprising given the connection between blood pressure and insulin resistance.

See for example A randomized trial of a low-carbohydrate diet vs orlistat plus a low-fat diet for weight loss.:

The LCKD had a more beneficial impact than O + LFD on systolic (-5.9 vs 1.5 mm Hg) and diastolic (-4.5 vs 0.4 mm Hg) blood pressures (P < .001 for both comparisons).

and A randomized controlled trial on the efficacy of carbohydrate-reduced or fat-reduced diets in patients attending a telemedically guided weight loss program

Despite the favourable effects of both diets on weight loss in our study, the carbohydrate-reduced diet was more beneficial with respect to some cardiovascular risk markers such as waist circumference, triglycerides, HDL-cholesterol, and systolic blood pressure compared to the fat-reduced diet.

My suggestion would be to eliminate fruit for a few weeks, as that seems to be the only high-carb element of your diet, and also continue to avoid starches, and see if that makes a difference.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on April 03, 2012
at 04:06 PM

I concur with this. I have HYPOtension and low carb lowers my blood pressure quite dangerously. If I had HYPERtension this would be great. You are also going to have to look at sodium in your diet. Some people have genes that mean that salt affects blood pressure, others do not. The salt-sensitive people are going to have to watch the sodium content of their diet. I would use CronOMeter or Fitday. I would switch to a diet of mainly grass-fed beef/lamb + optional green salads.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on April 03, 2012
at 05:07 PM

That's interesting about some people being salt sensitive. From the Cochrane reviews, I was under the impression that the whole idea of salt affecting BP was baloney, but it's plausible it's only baloney on average. Still, this must be a small minority, no?

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on April 03, 2012
at 05:05 PM

That's weird, Melissa. I've always had low-normal BP, and it didn't change when I drastically lowered carbs. If LC lowered BP in general, not just lowering pathologically high BP, you would think I would get hypo from it, too. Are you eating enough sodium?

1
2a2d42c4424547d359cbfdaba795e749

on April 03, 2012
at 12:14 PM

Check out hibiscus tea. Hibiscus Tea to Lower Your Blood Pressure

People with high blood pressure (hypertension) can lower their blood pressure by drinking a tea made from a standardized extract of hibiscus flower every day, according to a study published in Phytomedicine (2004;11:375???82). The World Health Organization defines hypertension as blood pressure higher than 140/90. It is a common condition in the developed world, affecting approximately 20% of adults. Though people with hypertension usually do not experience symptoms and often do not know their blood pressure is high, it can lead to serious health problems, including congestive heart failure and stroke. Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, exercising, and practicing relaxation can all help to prevent or treat hypertension. Blood pressure???lowering (antihypertensive) drugs are often prescribed if these lifestyle changes do not sufficiently reduce blood pressure. These drugs work either by opening (dilating) the blood vessels or by increasing the volume of urine (in other words, a diuretic effect) and thereby reducing the volume of blood.

81348acb7b886e2b32ca915d250268f3

(1022)

on April 05, 2012
at 10:06 PM

Do you know what the actual active nutrient in hibiscus tea is that lowers BP?

1
Ff1dbd6cecad1e69a8234fb2c2c5c5ed

(1409)

on April 03, 2012
at 11:38 AM

Magnesium will lower BP effectively (at the price of giving you loose bowel movements). I take a heaping teaspoon of mag-citrate morning and night (which equals about 1g of Magnesium each).

81348acb7b886e2b32ca915d250268f3

(1022)

on April 03, 2012
at 12:09 PM

I do take Mg on nights after exercise for muscle recovery but due to the bowel movements the next day I don't use it every night, as I don't think it's healthy on the colon/digestive system.

1
7d46858749ff63fd065e3e70a7e5ac6e

on April 03, 2012
at 11:00 AM

It sounds like you are headed in the right direction! You have reduced your BP pretty significantly already. You say you have been eating paleo for only 2-3 months. Maybe if you keep it up, you will continue on that downward trend. Eating SAD causes a lot of damage, it doesn't get fixed overnight. Try to eat only foods that are fresh... don't even have a "nutrition label". Nothing from a container or can where high levels of sodium or other artificial ingredients are added. Usually high sodium intake doesn't come from table salt, but from added salt in products. Definitely take a look at that peanut butter.

My husband has pretty similar "stats" as you... also 27 years old. Was on BP medication and still wasn't seeing controlled blood pressures. He has been eating Paleo for about a year now and is completely off medication with blood pressures around 110-120/70-80. The only things I see he did differently was rarely coconut milk, no peanut butter, no dairy, and no coffee. Those are just personal choices- I don't know that they are significant. Sometimes you have to experiment with that works for you.

Maybe your body is just adjusting. If I were you, I would give it a little more time... good luck!

0
1a98a40ba8ffdc5aa28d1324d01c6c9f

(20378)

on April 03, 2012
at 07:50 AM

Do you walk five times a week for about 30 minutes? I would look at sugar and salt intake. Just a starting place. The fiber thing is conventional wisdom. Reading Taubes Book GCBG or Why We Get Fat will help understand the history of conventional wisdom. However there are other hypothesis for weight gain and loss that are more advanced. However the book is still worth a read.

81348acb7b886e2b32ca915d250268f3

(1022)

on April 03, 2012
at 11:07 AM

I walk a lot, I couldn't really put a number on it, but with walking the dog, going to uni, going to work, plus playing sports like soccer and mountain biking etc I'd say I've got it covered.

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