The functional medicine approach to high blood pressure
High blood pressure is one of the most commonly diagnosed conditions in the United States and blood pressure medications are among the most commonly prescribed drug. While sometimes necessary, a prescription may not always be the best option. Blood pressure medications can have side effects that negatively impact your health and it is possible to lower and maintain low blood pressure through a healthy lifestyle.
Why is blood pressure important
Maintaining a good blood pressure is important. High blood pressure increases the risk of heart attack and failure, kidney failure, diabetes, and peripheral vascular disease, a circulatory condition in which narrowed blood vessels reduce blood flow to the limbs. Approximately one-third of the population has high blood pressure and another one-third suffer from some form of hypertension, or somewhat elevated blood pressure. Blood pressure tends to increase with age and hypertension is the leading cause of cardiovascular death in the U.S.
How functional medicine can help
When blood pressure medications first hit the market, only true hypertensive patients were prescribed medicine. Today, conventional doctors will often prescribe drugs to those with only slightly elevated blood pressure despite research showing that treating mild hypertension with drugs does not reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Side effects of blood pressure medication include diarrhea or constipation, dizziness, erectile dysfunction, feeling tired, weak, or drowsy, and nausea or vomiting.
In functional medicine, we look for why someone has high blood pressure rather than simply what can done to lower it. It’s a patient-centered approach rather than a disease-centered approach. A functional medicine doctor will consider genetics, including thyroid problems and other autoimmune disorders, nutrition, environment, and lifestyle in an attempt to lower blood pressure levels.
Appropriate management of thyroid conditions, autoimmune disorders, and hormone levels can help lower and maintain healthy blood pressure levels so that medication is not required. When it comes to lowering blood pressure, the importance of lifestyle can’t be overstated. Lifestyle interventions influence the fundamental biological mechanisms leading to all chronic diseases and studies have shown that lifestyle, such as a healthy diet and regular exercise, can drastically decrease the chances of heart disease.
Certain nutritional deficiencies, such a biotin, vitamin D, vitamin C, magnesium, CoQ-10, and potassium can contribute to high blood pressure levels. Unfortunately, most Americans have vitamin D and magnesium deficiencies; however, taking supplements and eating certain foods to restore nutritional deficiencies can lower and maintain healthy blood pressure levels. Bananas, avocados, sweet and white potatoes, halibut, and spinach are all good sources of potassium. It is important to note that foods rich in potassium do tend to be high in carbs, so a Paleo diet may be recommended. Sugar should also be avoided. Sugar-sweetened beverages in particular, like soda, contain an excessive amount of hidden sugar and can lead to elevated blood sugar levels and obesity, both of which can contribute to high blood pressure.
Regular aerobic exercise, such as walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, and yoga can bring blood pressure levels down to safer levels and can help you lose weight.
Contact a Denver Functional Medicine Doctor
If you are suffering from high blood pressure, contact us, J. Gruber Health Solutions, today at 303-746-1964 to see how Dr. Gruber’s patient-centered plan management can benefit you. At J. Gruber Health Solutions, each patient is provided with a health plan specifically tailored to fit their exact needs, including dietary recommendations and applicable supplements, to help lower and control blood pressure levels.