I believe that many conditions in medicine are categorized incorrectly.
There are certain conditions that are treated like disorders when they are really just symptoms, or, in other words, viewed as the cause rather than the effect. You would probably be annoyed if you went to your doctor and were diagnosed with a runny nose because you already knew you had a runny nose, and are really interested in finding out why you have it, and what you can do about it. Obesity falls into this category because it’s not a stand-alone issue. Obesity is always a symptom of underlying issues, such as poor blood sugar control, inappropriate diet, or hormonal imbalances, among many others. Another condition that falls into this category is hypertension, or high blood pressure.
High blood pressure is often viewed as a disease. “You have hypertension, take this blood pressure lowering drug.” Even when blood pressure is successfully lowered with medication, whatever caused the high blood pressure still remains if no other changes were made. Let’s take a look at some of the underlying causes and solutions of high blood pressure.
This is one of the most simple fixes for high blood pressure. When individuals are dehydrated, blood becomes thicker. The heart must apply additional force to get this sludgy fluid through the circulatory system to get where it needs to go. Adequate hydration gives the body the needed materials to have free-flowing blood. Drinking 2 to 3 quarts of pure water per day is enough for most people.
The liver is a major filter of the blood. If the liver is overburdened, such as might happen with a diet high in refined sugars, alcohol, chemicals and/or preservatives, it may become congested. The heart then must work harder to push the blood through the liver. A backup may occur, which reveals itself as increased pressure. Reducing the intake of liver congesting substances can have a significantly positive impact on hypertension.
They kidneys serve as a final filter of the blood before the wastes are excreted in the urine. Typically, this is the time when mineral balance is achieved, with needed minerals being recirculated and excess passing out of the body. However, if liver function is suboptimal, the kidneys take on the extra burden of making up for the missed filtering opportunities of the liver. Similar to liver congestion, the kidneys can also become congested and overworked. Blood flow is restricted, and pressure increases.
Short-term stress causes the adrenals to work overtime. Cortisol, the stress hormone secreted by the adrenals, causes the blood vessels to constrict and increases blood pressure. This is fine in an emergency, but many people are living in states of chronic lifestyle stress, which translates into chronic high blood pressure. Removing stressors, practicing stress management, and eliminating foods that cause stress in the body (allergens, refined sugars, heated vegetable oils) can help to bring blood pressure back down to normal.
Sugar Handling Imbalances
Blood sugar issues, including diabetes and hypoglycemia, are closely associated with hypertension. Those who find themselves on the “blood sugar roller coaster”, having significant highs and lows through the day, are also subject to blood pressure issues. High blood sugar, brought on by refined and sugary foods, is seen by the body as an emergency. Emergencies bring on a cortisol response, which, as we’ve seen, increases blood pressure. Getting blood sugar under control with a low-sugar, whole foods diet is another way to get blood pressure under control.
Hypertension is not a disease; it is an indicator that something isn’t quite right. A little sleuthing into diet and lifestyle can often reveal the root cause, which in turn uncovers a sustainable, permanent solution, without medication.
This information is for educational purposes only and should not be interpreted as medical advice.
Health(ier) Chocolate Peppermint Bark
1 cup coconut butter*
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp peppermint extract or 1 drop of peppermint essential oil
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 tbsp. coconut oil
*You can make your own coconut butter by blending 3 cups dried unsweetened coconut shreds in a food processor until creamy.
Set up a double boiler: Bring about an inch of water to a boil in a medium saucepan, then set a glass bowl on top. It should sit on the rim of the saucepan and not dip into the water.
In the glass bowl, melt the coconut butter and 1/4 cup of coconut oil. Stir in the salt, vanilla extract and peppermint extract. Pour into a 13×9 glass baking dish. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula to get all of the coconut goodness out.
Place the bowl back on the saucepan and melt the chocolate chips with the 1 tbsp of coconut oil. Drizzle the melted chocolate back and forth across the coconut mixture. Drag a toothpick up and down through the mixture at 1 inch intervals to create a design. Let the bark set up in the fridge for at least one hour. Using a spatula, pop the bark out of the baking dish. Flip it over, and set on a cutting board (the bottom makes the best looking top). Cut into pieces with a large knife. Store in the fridge as the bark will soften at room temperature.