Blood Pressure, Sodium, Drugs and Diets

      89 Comments on Blood Pressure, Sodium, Drugs and Diets

In my previous From The News post, I mentioned that the definition of “high” blood pressure will soon be lowered from 140/90 to 130/80. (The systolic, or top number, is when your heart is contracting. The diastolic, or lower number, is when your heart is between beats.) I also said I believe the redefinition is likely driven by a desire to sell more drugs.

A couple of you commented that the drugs might be necessary. Okay, maybe that’s true for some people. I’ve never had high blood pressure, so I’ve had the luxury of not being personally concerned with the subject. Nonetheless, I thought I’d dig through my database of articles and studies to explain why I’m not convinced that most people diagnosed with “high” blood pressure need drugs.

The best way to treat a health problem is to treat the root cause, not the downstream effect. So what causes high blood pressure? Many of the so-called experts still insist the problem is sodium. (They’re generally the same so-called experts who insist saturated fat causes heart disease.)

Dr. Frank Sucks … er, Sacks – the same researcher who wrote the American Heart Association’s we were right all along about saturated fat! presidential advisory report – has been a long-time champion of low-salt diets. He believes he proved lowering salt will save our hearts with his famous DASH trial. Here’s what his Harvard profile says about it:

These multi-center National Heart Lung and Blood Institute trials found major beneficial additive effects of low salt and a dietary pattern rich in fruits and vegetables on blood pressure.

Actually, that’s not what the DASH trial showed at all. You have to read the study carefully (and I have) to get the true picture, but here’s the brief summary: Sacks put people on either a standard American diet that included plenty of sugar and other junk, or on a low-fat DASH diet that included no sugar and no junk. Then he had them consume versions of those two diets that were high in salt, medium in salt, or very low in salt.

In order to claim he’d proved restricting salt is beneficial, Sucks had to compare the blood-pressure differences between people on the high-salt/junk diet and people on the low-salt/DASH diet. That’s akin to comparing people on a high-salt/high-whiskey diet to people on a low-salt/high-water diet, then declaring that restricting salt prevents liver damage.

Within each diet group – junk food vs. DASH – restricting salt by a whopping 75% only produced a blood-pressure drop of about three points. Whoopee.

Other researchers have found similar results (and unlike Dr. Sucks, reported them honestly). Here are some quotes from a 1998 meta-analysis titled Effects of Sodium Restriction on Blood Pressure, Renin, Aldosterone, Catecholamines, Cholesterols, and Triglyceride:

In 58 trials of hypertensive persons, the effect of reduced sodium intake on systolic blood pressure was 3.9 mm Hg, and on diastolic blood pressure was 1.9 mm. In 56 trials of normotensive persons, the effect of reduced sodium intake on systolic blood pressure was 1.2 mm Hg.

Once again, restricting sodium produced a teeny drop of a few points.

These results do not support a general recommendation to reduce sodium intake.

Gee, do ya think?

Here are some quotes from a 2008 E Science News article:

Contrary to long-held assumptions, high-salt diets may not increase the risk of death, according to investigators from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University.

They reached their conclusion after examining dietary intake among a nationally representative sample of adults in the U.S. The Einstein researchers actually observed a significantly increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease (CVD) associated with lower sodium diets.

“Our findings suggest that for the general adult population, higher sodium is very unlikely to be independently associated with higher risk of death from CVD or all other causes of death,” says Dr. Hillel W. Cohen, lead author of the study and associate professor of epidemiology and population health at Einstein.

And here are some quotes from a Food Navigator article about a Cochrane review of sodium-restriction studies:

The authors, led by Professor Rod Taylor from Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry in the UK, found no strong evidence to support the idea that salt reduction reduces cardiovascular disease or all-cause mortality in people with normal or raised blood pressure.

People with normal or raised blood pressure at baseline showed no strong evidence of benefit from salt intake restriction. Salt restriction did, however, increase the risk of death from all causes in those with congestive heart failure, reported the authors.

I found that article amusing because it provided a perfect example of The Anointed in action. The researchers concluded that given the results, we need to conduct more research before governments jump in to set lower targets for salt intake.

But as we know, The Anointed don’t believe they should be bothered with providing evidence before instituting a Grand Plan. So here’s how a spokesperson for a U.K. organization calling itself the Consensus Action on Salt and Health replied to the Cochrane review:

Campaign director Katharine Jenner told FoodNavigator that it is “very disappointing” to see the message from the review indicates that salt reduction may not be beneficial.

“This is a completely inappropriate conclusion, given the strong evidence and the overwhelming public health consensus that salt raises blood pressure which leads to cardiovascular disease,” said Jenner.

Whenever you hear The Anointed insist that by gosh, there’s a consensus and therefore the debate is over, you know they’re peddling junk science they don’t want examined.

Jenner told FoodNavigator that “there is no sense in waiting for further trials before progressing with an international salt reduction programme, which will immediately save many thousands of lives.”

Of course not. Because when The Anointed devise a Grand Plan, it must always be implemented RIGHT NOW or people will die … and it will be your fault for insisting on evidence before proceeding.

Salt restriction is the standard dietary advice, but it doesn’t do much. So after concluding that your low-salt diet just isn’t working for some reason, your doctor will reach for the prescription pad. The drugs do lower blood pressure. But do they save lives?

That’s where it gets a bit murky. In Doctoring Data, Dr. Malcolm Kendrick stated that there’s no convincing clinical evidence that blood-pressure medications reduce mortality for most people with “high” blood pressure.

Here are some quotes from an article on the Whitaker Wellness Institute website:

Another hypertension myth is that it is a silent killer that sets us up for strokes and heart attacks and knocks about five years off life expectancy. Although this is true for patients who have very high blood pressure and/or existing cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or kidney disease, the picture is considerably different for mild hypertension, which is defined under current guidelines as 140-159/90-99.

Scientific data published in top medical journals over the past few years makes it clear that mild hypertension does not confer these risks. For example, reevaluation of data from the renowned Framingham Heart Study shows that deaths related to hypertension barely budge until systolic blood pressure reaches 175 and mortality rates climb significantly only above 185. In other words, malignant hypertension is a killer. Uncomplicated mild hypertension is not.

Sixty percent of hypertensive Americans fall into the mild category. Nevertheless, more than half of them are treated with medications. And that’s the real tragedy.

There is no convincing scientific evidence that treating basically healthy patients with mild hypertension provides any benefits. In a groundbreaking recent study, researchers reviewed all the clinical trials in the medical literature comparing drug treatment of mild hypertension with placebo or no treatment. They found no differences in heart attacks, strokes, and deaths between treated and untreated individuals. But they did find that the drugs caused a lot of misery.

Maybe the drugs provide life-extending benefits for people with very high blood pressure. For people merely in the “high” range of 140 to 159, I’m not convinced. It seems the drugs merely treat a symptom.

As I said earlier, the best option is to treat the root cause. Several studies have hinted at the root cause, or at least one of them. Here are some quotes from a 2010 WebMD article:

A new study shows that a low-carbohydrate diet was equally good as the weight loss drug orlistat (the active ingredient in Alli and Xenical) at helping overweight and obese people lose weight, but people who followed the low-carb diet also experienced a healthy drop in their blood pressure levels.

“I expected the weight loss to be considerable with both therapies but we were surprised to see blood pressure improve so much more with the low-carbohydrate diet than with orlistat,” researcher William S. Yancy, Jr., MD, an associate professor of medicine at Duke University Medical Center, says in a news release. “If people have high blood pressure and a weight problem, a low-carbohydrate diet might be a better option than a weight loss medication.”

In the study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, 146 obese or overweight adults were randomly divided into two groups. Many of the participants also had chronic health problems, such as high blood pressure or diabetes.

The first group was advised to follow a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet consisting of less than 20 grams of carbohydrates per day, and the second group received the weight loss drug orlistat three times a day, plus counseling in following a low-fat diet (less than 30% of daily calories from fat) at group meetings over 48 weeks.

The results showed weight loss was similar in the two groups. The low-carb diet group lost an average of 9.5% of their body weight and the orlistat group lost an average of 8.5%. Both weight loss methods were also not significantly different at improving cholesterol and glucose levels.

But when researchers looked at changes in blood pressure, they found nearly half of those who followed the low-carbohydrate group had their blood pressure medication decreased or discontinued during the study, compared to only 21% of those in the orlistat group.

Plenty of doctors who prescribe low-carb diets have said the same thing: many of their patients end up ditching the blood-pressure medication. In fact, if the patients combine a low-carb diet with the medication, they can actually become dizzy from low blood pressure.

A study published waaaay back in 1985 suggests why a low-carb diet can lower blood pressure:

Both systolic and diastolic blood pressure were found to be significantly related to fasting serum insulin level even when age, weight, and serum glucose level were controlled. The relation between serum insulin and blood pressure was more pronounced in those women with a family history of hypertension. These data indicate that insulin may play a major role in the regulation of blood pressure in obesity and that the previously accepted relation of weight to blood pressure may depend on blood levels of insulin.

So there you go. High blood pressure, like so many other aspects of metabolic syndrome, is apparently driven by chronically high insulin. It’s the high insulin that needs fixing, not the symptoms it produces.

The Whitaker Wellness article provides some practical advice as well:

We would all be better served by shifting the focus to safe, natural, proven therapies that not only lower blood pressure but, unlike antihypertensive drugs, also improve multiple aspects of health.

Regular aerobic and resistance exercise, which reduces systolic blood pressure as effectively as many medications, rejuvenates every system in your body. Losing as little as 10 pounds or 5 percent of your total weight provides significant all-around benefits. Relaxation techniques, meditation, yoga, acupuncture, and neurofeedback reduce stress’s adverse effects on blood pressure, health, and quality of life.

Cutting out high-glycemic sugars and starches lowers blood sugar, lipids, insulin resistance, and other aspects of metabolic syndrome as well as helping to lower blood pressure. Beets, leafy greens, and other nitrate-rich foods boost synthesis of nitric oxide (NO), which dilates and protects the arteries.

Magnesium has powerful effects on blood pressure because it relaxes and reduces pressure on the arteries; that 75-80 percent of Americans fail to get the RDA of magnesium is a likely contributor to our high rates of hypertension. Coenzyme Q10 has positive effects on blood pressure and the entire cardiovascular system.

Cut the refined carbs, eat some leafy greens, get some exercise, and supplement your diet with magnesium and CoQ10. Sounds a lot better than taking medications if you ask me.

Share

89 thoughts on “Blood Pressure, Sodium, Drugs and Diets

  1. George Henderson

    Here’s a study showing low blood pressure is important in elderly with diabetes.

    A decrease of 10 mm Hg in systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure and pulse pressure led to a mortality increase of 22% [95% confidence interval (95% CI): 13–31%], 30% [95% CI: 13%–46%] and 22% [95% CI: 11%–33%], respectively. In the low age group (60–75 years), no relationship was found between blood pressure and mortality.

    Conclusions: blood pressure is a marker for mortality in elderly T2DM patients; however, the relationship is inverse.

    https://academic.oup.com/ageing/article/39/5/603/41073

    I saw another study recently that confirmed that this is a general thing – as you get older, your BP going down is the reaper calling for you.
    Same as with LDL cholesterol.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton

      Just like cholesterol indeed. Tends to go up with age, and doctors want to beat it down, even though elderly people with low numbers tend to die younger.

      Reply
    2. Emily

      Low blood pressure is what my grandmother had, starting around 70. Her doctors were definitely not happy about it. I wonder if doctors with geriatric specialties would have some choice words to say to researchers like Sacks.

      Reply
  2. Bob Niland

    re: from 140/90 to 130/80

    Still too high, per the program I contribute on, but the key question is what you do about it, and drugs are the tool of last resort. Diet alone can fix it in most cases, and a diet that includes ample salt.

    A recent deep dive on the sodium issue is the book “The Salt Fix” (Dr. James DiNicolantonio), which I haven’t finished reading. James even identifies a figure he’s called “the Ancel Keys of salt”, and it says a lot about public awareness of modern metabolic mayhem that he doesn’t even need to explain that for many audiences (and it’s not Frank).

    Reply
    1. Lori Miller

      That’s a great book. Before I heard the author on a podcast, I didn’t know that low-sodium diets can also lead to bone fractures, as sodium is an important component in bone formation.

      Reply
      1. Walter

        Another curse from the Anointed[1] who are of course, oily to rise and oily to bed.[2]

        Hip fractures are a primary cause of premature death in women, because the cause relegation to a wheelchair and a nursing home[1]. I have read that that the hip breaks first causing the fall first. Star Trek cause them death watch camps and remember the doctor in the whale movie saying, “We can’t leave him to 20th century medicine.”.

        [1] Which happened to my mother.
        [2] Kings in the early days were rubbed with oil as a sign of their divinity or representing divinty.

        Anoint — to smear or rub with oil or an oily substance
        https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/anoint 1st meaning

        Reply
  3. Mike M

    My blood pressure untreated and when eating a standard diet is astronomical. Like 210/124 high. I’ve been on every BP med you can come up with, and cocktails of multiple ones. Most do nothing. Some help a little. All cause some sort of side effect. Eliminating sodium from my diet did exactly nothing except make me hate eating. Eliminating caffeine has no effect either. Needless to say, all the “conventional wisdom” from 30 years worth of doctors has been useless.

    LC is the ONLY thing that has made a significant reduction in my systolic and diastolic blood pressure. My doctors don’t believe me, they think I’m crazy. But I can repeat the results over and over. Start eating a standard diet, BP goes up to the stratosphere. Eat LC, and it goes down…significantly. Not complicated but none of them believe it’s the diet.

    Reply
      1. Walter

        Sometimes you have to treat doctors like you would treat religious fanatics of a religion that isn’t yours, or in some cases even those of your religion, if any.

        The mind control reaches the same level of obfuscation.

        Reply
  4. George Henderson

    Here’s a study showing low blood pressure is important in elderly with diabetes.

    A decrease of 10 mm Hg in systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure and pulse pressure led to a mortality increase of 22% [95% confidence interval (95% CI): 13–31%], 30% [95% CI: 13%–46%] and 22% [95% CI: 11%–33%], respectively. In the low age group (60–75 years), no relationship was found between blood pressure and mortality.

    Conclusions: blood pressure is a marker for mortality in elderly T2DM patients; however, the relationship is inverse.

    https://academic.oup.com/ageing/article/39/5/603/41073

    I saw another study recently that confirmed that this is a general thing – as you get older, your BP going down is the reaper calling for you.
    Same as with LDL cholesterol.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Just like cholesterol indeed. Tends to go up with age, and doctors want to beat it down, even though elderly people with low numbers tend to die younger.

      Reply
    2. Emily

      Low blood pressure is what my grandmother had, starting around 70. Her doctors were definitely not happy about it. I wonder if doctors with geriatric specialties would have some choice words to say to researchers like Sacks.

      Reply
  5. Bob Niland

    re: from 140/90 to 130/80

    Still too high, per the program I contribute on, but the key question is what you do about it, and drugs are the tool of last resort. Diet alone can fix it in most cases, and a diet that includes ample salt.

    A recent deep dive on the sodium issue is the book “The Salt Fix” (Dr. James DiNicolantonio), which I haven’t finished reading. James even identifies a figure he’s called “the Ancel Keys of salt”, and it says a lot about public awareness of modern metabolic mayhem that he doesn’t even need to explain that for many audiences (and it’s not Frank).

    Reply
      1. Phillis Hammond

        Its an awesome book. Dr. DiNicolantonio is at our own St. Luke’s here in Kansas City. He is collaborating with well known cardiologist James O’Keefe at St. Luke’s Mid-America Heart Institute. I’ve been following his salt protocols in conjunction with my low-carb lifestyle and its made quite a difference in my overall blood pressure. I have had Reynaud’s most of my adult life and, frankly, upping my salt intake has mitigated the symptoms quite a bit.

        Reply
    1. Lori Miller

      That’s a great book. Before I heard the author on a podcast, I didn’t know that low-sodium diets can also lead to bone fractures, as sodium is an important component in bone formation.

      Reply
      1. Walter

        Another curse from the Anointed[1] who are of course, oily to rise and oily to bed.[2]

        Hip fractures are a primary cause of premature death in women, because the cause relegation to a wheelchair and a nursing home[1]. I have read that that the hip breaks first causing the fall first. Star Trek cause them death watch camps and remember the doctor in the whale movie saying, “We can’t leave him to 20th century medicine.”.

        [1] Which happened to my mother.
        [2] Kings in the early days were rubbed with oil as a sign of their divinity or representing divinty.

        Anoint — to smear or rub with oil or an oily substance
        https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/anoint 1st meaning

        Reply
  6. Mike M

    My blood pressure untreated and when eating a standard diet is astronomical. Like 210/124 high. I’ve been on every BP med you can come up with, and cocktails of multiple ones. Most do nothing. Some help a little. All cause some sort of side effect. Eliminating sodium from my diet did exactly nothing except make me hate eating. Eliminating caffeine has no effect either. Needless to say, all the “conventional wisdom” from 30 years worth of doctors has been useless.

    LC is the ONLY thing that has made a significant reduction in my systolic and diastolic blood pressure. My doctors don’t believe me, they think I’m crazy. But I can repeat the results over and over. Start eating a standard diet, BP goes up to the stratosphere. Eat LC, and it goes down…significantly. Not complicated but none of them believe it’s the diet.

    Reply
      1. Walter

        Sometimes you have to treat doctors like you would treat religious fanatics of a religion that isn’t yours, or in some cases even those of your religion, if any.

        The mind control reaches the same level of obfuscation.

        Reply
  7. Wayne Gage

    I’ve found that forced deep breathing lowers my BP by about 5-10
    points. I don’t know if deep breathing has the same effect on everyone.

    Reply
  8. Jeffrey T Ranney

    Eating the SAD diet, as a T2D, I was on three different BP meds, as well as low salt. None of it working. 2 years ago I started on low carb, discarded the BP meds and increased my salt intake and my doctor is happy with my BP at 136/76, as am I. Amazing with no meds, eh?
    The Anointed suck at doing their supposed job!

    Reply
      1. chris c

        My BP, lipids and (unknown to me at the time) blood glucose and insulin/resistance were not good. A dietician told me to eat even more carbs and even less fat. This made everything significantly worse and also caused me to gain weight. I was then accused of “failing to comply” with the diet.

        When I ACTUALLY stopped complying with the diet and ate the exact opposite, pretty much everything went back into line. So commonplace as to be unremarkable.

        I have to wonder how many times dieticians and also many doctors and nurses have to see this happen before they start to notice. It’s taken my current doctor over a decade but she’s finally coming around.

        Reply
        1. Tom Naughton

          Reminds me of an experiment in which cats were raised in an environment where all they saw were horizontal shapes. When put in an environment with vertical shapes, they literally couldn’t recognize them. I’m afraid doctors and dietitians were so indoctrinated to blame fat and recommend healthywholegrains!, they can’t see the contrary evidence in front of them.

          Reply
        2. Thomas E.

          Talked to my mother-in-law (MIL), and she is slowly coming around. Still, a pair of dietitians and 3 doctors have told her she needs her carbs for her brain.

          I asked he, did they mention that if she eats enough protein the liver can produce a lot of those carbs, on demand?

          I also asked, did they mention if you switch from bread to potatoes (and other starches) the insulin spike will be much less, and if you heat/cool potatoes you will help create a bit more good carbs for your gut biom (which she fully understands why it is there).

          And she thought about it.

          It’s that old cognitive dissonance.

          On a related note, I have a couple of google news alert on Gary Fettke and a few others. It would appear the battle in Australia continues: http://en.brinkwire.com/121554/launceston-hospital-former-head-surgeon-threatens-to-sue-after-being-forced-out/

          To all of the professionals who are fighting for old dogma to become forgotten and new research to be vetted, a big thank you. People are making huge sacrifices.

          Reply
  9. smgj

    Another potentially harmful side effect of cutting sodium for many is that they’re in effect cutting the only significant iodine source in their diet.
    Even here in Norway – where supply of ocean fish generally is considered good – mothers have a hard time getting the RDI when pregnant and/or breastfeeding. Much because a diet high omega6 reduce the uptake of iodine from food. (Fish, dairy products and enriched sodium is the main sources for iodine here.)
    Even though we’re high in dairy it’s not enough anymore, mainly because we’ve started feeding our milk cows omega 6 through their food and thus the milk we get is lower in iodine compared to old fashioned grass-fed cow’s milk.

    Reply
    1. Thomas E.

      Absolute great. Another piece of the puzzle.

      1) get fatter, more sedentary lifestyle
      2) breath less deep due to discomfort and less out of shape
      3) incomplete oxygenation of the blood
      4) body compensates by increasing blood pressure/flow, and this increasing blood pressure.

      Looks like a very reasonable root cause analysis. I tried the recommendations, and noticed that deep breathing, especially in my chair at work takes more effort than it should. The results are very early, but over the weekend I was able to get my BP down to the 115/78 range.

      Anyway, to further the point, how much damage are we doing to our bodies by artificially reducing the blood pressure, instead of consciously breathing more deeply.

      Again, all of this is theory, that so far my N = 1 experiment is working.

      Thanks again Tom!

      cheers,
      Thomas

      Reply
        1. JillOz

          People with constant asthma cannot take deep breaths. Frequently I can’t because of asthma attacks. At the moment I seem to be Ok so can do some deep breathing. Thx for the alert by proxy! 😉

          Reply
  10. Firebird7478

    Regarding blood pressure, I believe I heard something along the lines of, “The dog isn’t chasing you because your blood pressure is high, your blood pressure is high because a dog is chasing you.”

    Reply
    1. Nick S

      It’s really interesting how stress and BP go hand in hand – if you artificially raise BP i.e. with a drug, it raises perceived levels of psychological stress, and vice versa.

      Reply
  11. Firebird7478

    My blood pressure went up this morning when a driver on the road me off. I guess the thing to do to prevent that from happening again is to stop driving.

    Reply
  12. Wayne Gage

    I’ve found that forced deep breathing lowers my BP by about 5-10
    points. I don’t know if deep breathing has the same effect on everyone.

    Reply
  13. Jeffrey T Ranney

    Eating the SAD diet, as a T2D, I was on three different BP meds, as well as low salt. None of it working. 2 years ago I started on low carb, discarded the BP meds and increased my salt intake and my doctor is happy with my BP at 136/76, as am I. Amazing with no meds, eh?
    The Anointed suck at doing their supposed job!

    Reply
      1. chris c

        My BP, lipids and (unknown to me at the time) blood glucose and insulin/resistance were not good. A dietician told me to eat even more carbs and even less fat. This made everything significantly worse and also caused me to gain weight. I was then accused of “failing to comply” with the diet.

        When I ACTUALLY stopped complying with the diet and ate the exact opposite, pretty much everything went back into line. So commonplace as to be unremarkable.

        I have to wonder how many times dieticians and also many doctors and nurses have to see this happen before they start to notice. It’s taken my current doctor over a decade but she’s finally coming around.

        Reply
        1. Tom Naughton Post author

          Reminds me of an experiment in which cats were raised in an environment where all they saw were horizontal shapes. When put in an environment with vertical shapes, they literally couldn’t recognize them. I’m afraid doctors and dietitians were so indoctrinated to blame fat and recommend healthywholegrains!, they can’t see the contrary evidence in front of them.

          Reply
        2. Thomas E.

          Talked to my mother-in-law (MIL), and she is slowly coming around. Still, a pair of dietitians and 3 doctors have told her she needs her carbs for her brain.

          I asked he, did they mention that if she eats enough protein the liver can produce a lot of those carbs, on demand?

          I also asked, did they mention if you switch from bread to potatoes (and other starches) the insulin spike will be much less, and if you heat/cool potatoes you will help create a bit more good carbs for your gut biom (which she fully understands why it is there).

          And she thought about it.

          It’s that old cognitive dissonance.

          On a related note, I have a couple of google news alert on Gary Fettke and a few others. It would appear the battle in Australia continues: http://en.brinkwire.com/121554/launceston-hospital-former-head-surgeon-threatens-to-sue-after-being-forced-out/

          To all of the professionals who are fighting for old dogma to become forgotten and new research to be vetted, a big thank you. People are making huge sacrifices.

          Reply
  14. Tom Welsh

    Much as I agree with all you say in this article, Tom, I resemble your undeserved slur on whisky. (Not a typo; being Scottish, I drink Scotch).

    Here is Barry Groves (“Trick and Treat” p. 346):

    “Both experimental and epidemiological studies have shown that alcohol drinkers who eat ‘unhealthy’ saturated animal fats have no liver injury. It seems it is only when drinkers replace animal fats with ‘healthy’ polyunsaturated fats containing linoleic acid that problems arise. Linoleic acid, even at levels as low as 0.7 or 2.5% of fat intake, with alcohol, caused fatty liver, necrosis and inflammation”.

    Reply
  15. Tom Welsh

    “High blood pressure, like so many other aspects of metabolic syndrome, is apparently driven by chronically high insulin”.

    Er, may I suggest that “correlation does not imply causation”? 😎

    Ignorant layman as I am, it seems to me somewhat more likely that high blood glucose itself might cause hypertension.

    After all, which is easier to pump through a network of tiny tubes: water or syrup?

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton

      We can’t say for sure — it is just a correlation — but here’s what the study said:

      “Both systolic and diastolic blood pressure were found to be significantly related to fasting serum insulin level even when age, weight, and serum glucose level were controlled.”

      Reply
  16. Glenn

    Salt sure does get a bad rap nowadays. While parent sitting I was perusing my mother’s Better Homes and Gardens and read a little excerpt (I wish I had made a copy) that salt can increase your risk for diabetes by 42%, and you should limit your intake to less than 1200 mg/day. Then it went on to explain “experts suspect” that high salt consumption leads to higher risk for diabetes. No joke. And no references. Just “experts suspect”. Where do people get this crap? And who are the “experts”? I think it raised my BP a couple points from laughing so hard. The sad part is people will believe it. It was in a respected magazine, after all.
    By the way, those are rhetorical questions. We know who the “experts” think they are, and we know where they get their crap…

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton

      Whenever a journalist writes “experts say” this, or “scientists say” that, it’s lousy journalism and the writer is probably pushing an agenda. Name almost any issue, and the true statement is “some experts say” this, or “some experts say” that.

      Reply
  17. smgj

    Another potentially harmful side effect of cutting sodium for many is that they’re in effect cutting the only significant iodine source in their diet.
    Even here in Norway – where supply of ocean fish generally is considered good – mothers have a hard time getting the RDI when pregnant and/or breastfeeding. Much because a diet high omega6 reduce the uptake of iodine from food. (Fish, dairy products and enriched sodium is the main sources for iodine here.)
    Even though we’re high in dairy it’s not enough anymore, mainly because we’ve started feeding our milk cows omega 6 through their food and thus the milk we get is lower in iodine compared to old fashioned grass-fed cow’s milk.

    Reply
  18. Emily

    Regarding the Whittaker Wellness article: I wonder where the chicken and the egg is in this feedback loop. Switching to a high-fat and therefore lowish-carb diet decreased my stress hugely. More than therapy, yoga, exercise, or anything else I’d tried my whole life. Those other things help, but if you don’t have the right building blocks from diet, you’re fighting a losing battle.

    Reply
    1. Thomas E.

      Absolute great. Another piece of the puzzle.

      1) get fatter, more sedentary lifestyle
      2) breath less deep due to discomfort and less out of shape
      3) incomplete oxygenation of the blood
      4) body compensates by increasing blood pressure/flow, and this increasing blood pressure.

      Looks like a very reasonable root cause analysis. I tried the recommendations, and noticed that deep breathing, especially in my chair at work takes more effort than it should. The results are very early, but over the weekend I was able to get my BP down to the 115/78 range.

      Anyway, to further the point, how much damage are we doing to our bodies by artificially reducing the blood pressure, instead of consciously breathing more deeply.

      Again, all of this is theory, that so far my N = 1 experiment is working.

      Thanks again Tom!

      cheers,
      Thomas

      Reply
        1. JillOz

          People with constant asthma cannot take deep breaths. Frequently I can’t because of asthma attacks. At the moment I seem to be Ok so can do some deep breathing. Thx for the alert by proxy! 😉

          Reply
  19. Firebird7478

    Regarding blood pressure, I believe I heard something along the lines of, “The dog isn’t chasing you because your blood pressure is high, your blood pressure is high because a dog is chasing you.”

    Reply
    1. Nick S

      It’s really interesting how stress and BP go hand in hand – if you artificially raise BP i.e. with a drug, it raises perceived levels of psychological stress, and vice versa.

      Reply
  20. Firebird7478

    My blood pressure went up this morning when a driver on the road me off. I guess the thing to do to prevent that from happening again is to stop driving.

    Reply
  21. Tom Welsh

    Much as I agree with all you say in this article, Tom, I resemble your undeserved slur on whisky. (Not a typo; being Scottish, I drink Scotch).

    Here is Barry Groves (“Trick and Treat” p. 346):

    “Both experimental and epidemiological studies have shown that alcohol drinkers who eat ‘unhealthy’ saturated animal fats have no liver injury. It seems it is only when drinkers replace animal fats with ‘healthy’ polyunsaturated fats containing linoleic acid that problems arise. Linoleic acid, even at levels as low as 0.7 or 2.5% of fat intake, with alcohol, caused fatty liver, necrosis and inflammation”.

    Reply
  22. Tom Welsh

    “High blood pressure, like so many other aspects of metabolic syndrome, is apparently driven by chronically high insulin”.

    Er, may I suggest that “correlation does not imply causation”? 😎

    Ignorant layman as I am, it seems to me somewhat more likely that high blood glucose itself might cause hypertension.

    After all, which is easier to pump through a network of tiny tubes: water or syrup?

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      We can’t say for sure — it is just a correlation — but here’s what the study said:

      “Both systolic and diastolic blood pressure were found to be significantly related to fasting serum insulin level even when age, weight, and serum glucose level were controlled.”

      Reply
  23. Glenn

    Salt sure does get a bad rap nowadays. While parent sitting I was perusing my mother’s Better Homes and Gardens and read a little excerpt (I wish I had made a copy) that salt can increase your risk for diabetes by 42%, and you should limit your intake to less than 1200 mg/day. Then it went on to explain “experts suspect” that high salt consumption leads to higher risk for diabetes. No joke. And no references. Just “experts suspect”. Where do people get this crap? And who are the “experts”? I think it raised my BP a couple points from laughing so hard. The sad part is people will believe it. It was in a respected magazine, after all.
    By the way, those are rhetorical questions. We know who the “experts” think they are, and we know where they get their crap…

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Whenever a journalist writes “experts say” this, or “scientists say” that, it’s lousy journalism and the writer is probably pushing an agenda. Name almost any issue, and the true statement is “some experts say” this, or “some experts say” that.

      Reply
  24. Dianne

    I was at a clinic this morning where I had my blood pressure taken. When I mentioned the new definition of “high” blood pressure, two nearby nurses agreed hotly that it was just an attempt to sell more pills — that, and nothing more.

    Reply
    1. Firebird7478

      I am going through physical therapy for my neck (muscle tightness and neck strain from computer use). I get dizzy spells, etc. When I brought my Rx to the facility, the women at the front desk were alarmed that my BP at last check was 140/86 (taken at the doctor’s office). They told me that that was probably causing my dizziness — not the absence of a cervical curve in my neck or the tension in my neck muscles. When I told them that the Anointed Ones moved the goal posts and lowered the numbers (yet again) and made 300 million Americans hypertensive, they developed lock jaw.

      Reply
  25. Emily

    Regarding the Whittaker Wellness article: I wonder where the chicken and the egg is in this feedback loop. Switching to a high-fat and therefore lowish-carb diet decreased my stress hugely. More than therapy, yoga, exercise, or anything else I’d tried my whole life. Those other things help, but if you don’t have the right building blocks from diet, you’re fighting a losing battle.

    Reply
  26. Dianne

    I was at a clinic this morning where I had my blood pressure taken. When I mentioned the new definition of “high” blood pressure, two nearby nurses agreed hotly that it was just an attempt to sell more pills — that, and nothing more.

    Reply
    1. Firebird7478

      I am going through physical therapy for my neck (muscle tightness and neck strain from computer use). I get dizzy spells, etc. When I brought my Rx to the facility, the women at the front desk were alarmed that my BP at last check was 140/86 (taken at the doctor’s office). They told me that that was probably causing my dizziness — not the absence of a cervical curve in my neck or the tension in my neck muscles. When I told them that the Anointed Ones moved the goal posts and lowered the numbers (yet again) and made 300 million Americans hypertensive, they developed lock jaw.

      Reply
  27. Namu

    Hi Tom,

    Thank you for tackling the issue of salt regularly. I have a genetic disease that causes (among other things) a constant loss of sodium from blood, accumulation of potassium in the body, and chronic low blood pressure. Your posts always have very useful references that I hand out when needed.

    I routinely encounter people with “strange symptoms that doctors cannot figure out” on the patients-to-patients websites I visit, where it turns out they are not getting enough salt in their diet. It’s been a growing trend as far as I can tell. For a vivid example of such, google “ailuron hypoglycemia”, that is one guy I helped recently. I have little doubt he would have died from eating too little salt, despite the intensive care he was getting.

    Similarly, sports association around the world have been sounding the alarm of “excess hydration”, a.k.a hyponatremia, as it is causing more deaths of athletes than the dehydration it is meant to prevent: https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/08/26/for-athletes-the-risk-of-too-much-water/

    Incidentally Tim Noakes sounded the alarm years ago too: https://www.outsideonline.com/1900801/tim-noakes-serious-problem-overhydration-endurance-sports

    In short, the war on salt may be causing actual deaths and ruining more lives. Meanwhile, doctors are generally oblivious to the symptoms and waste time on differential diagnosis because the signs of hyponatremia are rarely taught to them.

    Also for a comparison point: my untreated BP is in the 90-110 / 60-80 range, and after I started the preventative treatment for my condition it raised to 130-80 stably. To me this is the “low normal” BP, and to call it “high BP” is a cruel joke.

    This battle is an important one. Thank you for your help 🙂

    Reply
  28. Namu

    Hi Tom,

    Thank you for tackling the issue of salt regularly. I have a genetic disease that causes (among other things) a constant loss of sodium from blood, accumulation of potassium in the body, and chronic low blood pressure. Your posts always have very useful references that I hand out when needed.

    I routinely encounter people with “strange symptoms that doctors cannot figure out” on the patients-to-patients websites I visit, where it turns out they are not getting enough salt in their diet. It’s been a growing trend as far as I can tell. For a vivid example of such, google “ailuron hypoglycemia”, that is one guy I helped recently. I have little doubt he would have died from eating too little salt, despite the intensive care he was getting.

    Similarly, sports association around the world have been sounding the alarm of “excess hydration”, a.k.a hyponatremia, as it is causing more deaths of athletes than the dehydration it is meant to prevent: https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/08/26/for-athletes-the-risk-of-too-much-water/

    Incidentally Tim Noakes sounded the alarm years ago too: https://www.outsideonline.com/1900801/tim-noakes-serious-problem-overhydration-endurance-sports

    In short, the war on salt may be causing actual deaths and ruining more lives. Meanwhile, doctors are generally oblivious to the symptoms and waste time on differential diagnosis because the signs of hyponatremia are rarely taught to them.

    Also for a comparison point: my untreated BP is in the 90-110 / 60-80 range, and after I started the preventative treatment for my condition it raised to 130-80 stably. To me this is the “low normal” BP, and to call it “high BP” is a cruel joke.

    This battle is an important one. Thank you for your help 🙂

    Reply
  29. Andre

    Regarding salt intake and blood pressure. It makes absolutely no bloody sense at all that an intake of a few grams of salt per day would make all that much of an impact on BP. Roughly 0.4% of the human body consists of sodium. A 50kg person’s body contains about 200 grams of sodium. Considering that the human body is a rather ingenious piece of machinery, it will have no trouble at all keeping the sodium levels within desired boundaries, regardless of intake.

    Reply
  30. Andre

    Regarding salt intake and blood pressure. It makes absolutely no bloody sense at all that an intake of a few grams of salt per day would make all that much of an impact on BP. Roughly 0.4% of the human body consists of sodium. A 50kg person’s body contains about 200 grams of sodium. Considering that the human body is a rather ingenious piece of machinery, it will have no trouble at all keeping the sodium levels within desired boundaries, regardless of intake.

    Reply

Leave a Reply to George Henderson Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.