April 4

Shake The Salt Shaker Habit For Lower Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is a condition that millions of Americans deal with each day. While it is a problem in and of itself, the associated risk it carries for promoting a potential stroke or heart attack make it an even more serious issue. But in many cases, all it may take are some simple steps to get those numbers back in the normal range, without pharmaceutical intervention.

Cutting back on salt and adopting a healthier diet is being shown to have a prominent effect on lowering the blood pressure numbers, and good results can be achieved in as little as 30 days!

For the study, 412 participants with high blood pressure (average starting levels of 135/86 mm/Hg) were asked to limit their salt intake. Current recommendations from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration call for a daily limit of about one teaspoon of salt (2,300 milligrams of sodium) per day. They were divided into groups consuming either a half a teaspoon, one teaspoon, or one and a half teaspoons of salt per day. During the four weeks, they were also asked to follow either their “normal” dietary patterns or follow the DASH diet, which focuses on plant-based foods and lean proteins.

Overall the results were favorable, but the level of change in blood pressure was directly related to the level of changes made by each individual. What they found was:

  • Higher salt intake but with dietary changes lowered systolic numbers 4.5 – 11 points
  • Cutting salt intake AND changing the diet gave an average change of 21 points for those with a systolic at or above 150 mm/Hg. (7-10 for those with “mid-range” hypertension)

The findings were published Nov. 12 in the journal JACC: Cardiovascular Interventions. Not surprisingly, the results are very similar to what we see with patients in our office who are making dietary modifications for a variety of health conditions. When someone takes a focused approach at changing their health with dietary means, they are often surprised at just how many aspects of their health can be improved at the same time when following the correct plan for their body’s needs. Our approach uses blood work and a thorough health history to assess the needs of each individual and tailor that around a core foundation of healthy food choices. We can then see energy levels, digestion, weight, blood pressure, blood sugar and mental clarity all improving at the same time in many cases.

We also work to educate and empower our patients with knowledge to make the best food choices to help them maintain their positive changes. Reading food labels is a must, as added sodium beyond the salt shaker is a major source dietary intake. A diet that includes fast food or many sources of prepared or packaged/processed food will typically bring the daily sodium intake to levels 2-4 times the daily allowance! Hidden sources of salt (msg, disodium guanylate, etc.) also need to be eliminated as they will send the numbers rocketing skyward as well.

Not surprisingly, a diet based on clean, whole foods that are prepared without added chemicals can have a major effect on lowering blood pressure just by the elimination of added sodium alone. However, even more health benefits can be seen from the addition of countless vitamins, minerals and nutrients that come from a well-rounded nutrition plan. So, if your goal is to lower your blood pressure (along with your medication count) AND improve your overall health in the process, we encourage you to come find out more about how we can help you with both goals. Your initial consultation will give us the starting point to help lead you on the path to health improvements that will increase your daily quality of life and decrease your risk for future health problems!


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