I loved salty foods, especially potato chips and pretzels. But, because of my diabetes, I realized that I had to stop eating these foods. :-)
During my research, I also found out that I had to stop eating ham, lunch meats, salted peanuts, pizza, fried chicken, chicken wings, Campbell's chicken soup,and bacon. Man! It was difficult giving up all of these foods, but, the only one that I really miss is the bacon! :-)
Salt and High Blood Pressure
More than 70% of people with Type 2 diabetes have high blood pressure. More than 85% of people with Type 2 diabetes consume too much salt on a daily basis. Coincidence? Is there a connection?
From a physiological perspective, Type 2 diabetics have high blood glucose levels, which thickens the blood and requires the heart muscle to work harder to push the thicker blood throughout the body, causing blood pressure to rise.
If you have been diabetic for many years or if you have the early stages of heart disease, this may cause damage to the inner linings of the arteries (endothelium). This damage prevents the production of nitric oxide (NO), which is responsible for relaxing your artery walls. As a result, this causes high blood pressure.
In addition, high blood glucose levels damage the kidneys, which can also cause blood pressure to rise.
These are just a few of the ways that diabetes can lead to high blood pressure. So, as you can see, it's easy to see why so many diabetics have high blood pressure.
From a diet perspective, Type 2 diabetics eat more processed "dead" foods, fast foods, and junk foods that contain a lot of salt. So, it appears that salt could also cause high blood pressure.
But, when the majority of Type 2 diabetics go on a low-salt diet, their blood pressure doesn't go down! Why? Because the problem is not the salt! The real problem is usually due to a biological and/or hormonal problem as explained (above).
Note: This myth about salt and high blood pressure is similar to the myths about fat and cholesterol, leading to the low-fat and low-cholesterol diets of the latter part of the 20th Century.
As we discovered, fat (alone) is not the main culprit that made us fat, obese and diabetic. And, cholesterol (alone) is not the main culprit that causes heart disease. Similarly, salt (alone) is not the main culprit that causes high blood pressure.
What is Salt?
The body needs salt. “Salt” is actually a chemical term for a substance produced by a reaction of an acid with a base. The terms “salt” and “sodium” are used interchangeably, but technically this is not correct.
“Salt” is sodium chloride, or, in chemistry terms, NaCl. By weight, “salt” is 40% sodium and 60% chloride. Sodium is an essential nutrient, a mineral that the body cannot manufacture itself but is required for life and good health.
Salt was seen as a valuable food and commodity for centuries. In fact, wars were fought over its possession and civilizations rose and fell in pursuit of what came to be called “white gold.” In times past, common rock salt was given to the common people and the highly valued crystal salt, like Original Himalayan Crystal Salt®, was reserved for royalty.
Salt has a long history of use in rituals of purification, magical protection, and blessing. Salt has been used throughout the ages as a ward against negative energies or evil spirits. There are even Biblical references to salt. For example, in the New Testament, Matthew 15:3, Jesus speaking to his disciples, “You are the salt of the earth.”
So, salt had a good reputation until the latter part of the 20th Century when so-called "experts" began telling us that salt was causing high blood pressure -- which led to the "low-salt" diet.
This was a major mistake! -- the real issue was not the salt -- it was the over-consumption of processed foods (which contain high levels of sodium) combined with the under-consumption of vegetables and beans (which contain high levels of potassium, magnesium, and zinc).
This led to the sodium-to-potassium ratio (within your cells) becoming excessively high. Instead of strictly reducing salt intake, a better strategy is to increase the intake of potassium-rich foods. This will trigger the cells to pump sodium out and potassium in via the cell's “sodium-potassium pump”.
This pump is in the membranes of all body cells, and one of its most important functions is preventing cellular swelling. If sodium is not pumped out, water accumulates in the cell, causing it to swell and ultimately burst.
Salt and Science
Normally the kidneys control the level of salt. If there is too much salt, the kidneys pass it into urine. But when our salt intake levels are very high, the kidneys cannot keep up and the salt ends up in our bloodstream. Salt attracts water. When there is too much salt in the blood, the salt draws more water into the blood. More water increases the volume of blood which raises blood pressure.
Some people are more sensitive to salt than others. In some people too much salt will cause their blood pressures to rise, in others there will not be as large a change. About half of people are salt sensitive. African-Americans, the elderly and people with diabetes are more often salt sensitive. If you have high blood pressure, you may benefit from decreasing your salt intake.
But, large-scale scientific reviews have determined there's no reason for people with normal blood pressure to restrict their sodium intake.
It's been known for the past 20 years that people with high blood pressure who don't want to lower their salt intake can simply consume more potassium-containing foods. Why? Because it's really the balance of the two minerals that matters.
In fact, Dutch researchers determined that a low potassium intake has the same impact on your blood pressure as high salt consumption does. And it turns out, the average person consumes 3,100 milligrams (mg) of potassium a day—1,600 mg less than recommended.
Does Salt Cause High Blood Pressure?
Eating too much processed food, many people accumulate more salt and water than their kidneys can handle. Some people have genes that control cellular channels, enzymes and hormones at various sites in the kidney, conserving salt to enable adaptation to the hot, dry savannah.
In order to remain active, one had to control body temperature. If water and salt were scarce, the kidney would conserve salt to retain fluid used to coat the body with sweat during activity. As sweat evaporated from the skin, it would cool the skin and keep body temperature normal. Without sweating, the body would quickly overheat during activity.
However, those genes necessary in our early development mistakenly conserve salt regardless of the environment. As long as excessive salt is ingested, it will be disproportionately reabsorbed in about 20 percent of the population. Through a process known as osmosis, salt retains water. It also promotes thirst, as every bartender and movie theater proprietor knows.
Excessive salt keeps the circulatory volume higher than it should be, exerting excess fluid pressure on blood vessel walls. These walls react to this stress by thickening and narrowing, leaving less space for the fluid already cramped in the blood compartment, raising “resistance” and requiring higher pressure to move blood to the organs. The heart has to pump against this high pressure system.
Lifting free weights in the athletic center causes muscles to become harder and larger. This same phenomenon happens to the heart with one notable exception, there is no break. This 24/7 activity can cause the heart to enlarge dramatically, and dangerously. The kidney contains around one million tiny, delicate filters comprised of blood vessels. The increase in pressure transmitted to the kidneys damages its vascular system leading to a disorder known as “hypertensive nephrosclerosis,” a major cause of kidney disease.
This genetic disorder, essential hypertension, is present in approximately 65 million Americans, and while characterized by measurements over 140/90, cardiovascular risks are already associated with blood pressures greater than 115/75.
It is controlled by eating a potassium-rich diet, restricting salt or using a diuretic drug, and is more common in those whose ancestral origins are equatorial. Doctors tend to push the diuretic drugs, but, the best choice is a change in diet!
High Blood Pressure (7⁺) Natural Remedies and Treatment Strategies
The keys to lowering your blood pressure naturally without the need for high blood pressure drugs include the following strategies.
Nutritional Strategy for HBP
Diet: A plant-based diet of vegetables, fruits, legumes and plant oils in combination with salt reduction to roughly less than five grams (100 mmols sodium) substantially lowers blood pressure.
Vegetables: Eat more green and bright-colored vegetables such as spinach, kale, broccoli, and red peppers for the Vitamin C, chlorophyll, and other nutrients. And, use fresh herbs and spices.
Nitrates: Eat dark green leafy vegetables and beets, which are rich sources of the natural nitrates that can be converted to nitric oxide, which relaxes blood vessels.
In order to increase your nitrate intake, eat arugula, celery, lettuce, beets, spinach, watercress and chervil as they contain more than 250 milligrams of nitrates per 100 grams, or 3.5 ounces. Other high-nitrate vegetables include endive, fennel, leek, celeriac, Chinese cabbage and parsley, with 100 to 250 milligrams per 100 grams.
Potassium & Magnesium: According to the latest science, a proper balance of sodium, in addition to potassium and magnesium, is more important than severely reducing or eliminating sodium completely to achieve a healthy body.
Sodium, potassium and magnesium help to regulate fluid balance in the body and allow nutrients and oxygen to travel to their necessary destinations within the body.
To provide a better balance of these minerals, eat potassium and magnesium-rich foods such as vegetables, beans and fruits to naturally reduce and normalize the sodium level in the body.
Raw Juicing: Drink a glass of raw green juice before each major meal. Use the author's specific recipes (in his Power of Raw Juicing book) which are designed to lower your blood pressure.
Water: Drink filtered or distilled water instead of tap water.
Good Fats: Eat foods rich in monounsaturated fats and Omega-3 EFAs, especially cold-water fish, flaxseed, nuts, extra virgin olive oil, organic flax oil, and avocado. Avocado also contains folate, potassium, beta-sitosterol, Vitamin E, and fiber.
If you don’t like fish, take a pharmaceutical-grade fish oil capsule (1000 to 1500 mg daily), plus extra Vitamin E to protect the oil from peroxidation.
Processed Foods: Also, avoid processed foods such as canned tomato juice, soups, and lunch meats because they tend to contain high levels of sodium. Avoid or reduce the consumption of most condiments, pickles, ham, bacon, salsa, cheese, cold cuts, olives, and broths.
Also, avoid fast foods, junk food, and fried foods (say goodbye to Kentucky Fried Chicken and Popeye's). And, be wary of some salt substitutes that may contain too much potassium chloride, which can cause numbness, irregular heartbeat, low blood pressure (dizziness, weakness, fatigue), coma, and, even a heart attack.
Salt: Replace the table salt with real salt, e.g. sea salt such as Himalayan salt.
Nutritional Supplementation for HBP
In order to complement your nutritional program, include three or more supplemental foods and nutritional supplements.
Supplements include arginine, beetroot powder,nattokinase, pycnogenol, CoQ10, and Omega-3 EFAs.
Supplemental foods include beetroot, cayenne pepper, garlic, ginger, turmeric, CoQ10, and extra virgin coconut oil.
Lifestyle Strategies for HBP
Exercise: Try to exercise at least 4 to 5 times a week for 30 to 45 minutes -- aerobic exercise and resistance training.
Stress: Reduce the stress in your life with meditation and deep-breathing exercises. Also, ensure that you get quality sleep on a regular basis.
Medications: Reduce/avoid medications, especially those that can raise your blood pressure, e.g. cold/cough medications.
Diabetes and High Blood Pressure
As previously mentioned, people with diabetes have a greater risk of developing high blood pressure. Eating a high-calorie diet that is also high in sodium can increase the risk of kidney damage and eye damage.
So, follow a plant-based diet, such as the Death to Diabetes Diet to regulate your blood pressure as well as your blood sugar.
Safe Sodium Intake and Blood Pressure Levels
If you have diabetes, your blood pressure would be too high at 130/80 mm Hg. If you have kidney problems, aim for 125/75.
The American Association of Diabetes Educators advises that you reduce your daily sodium intake to no more than 2,400mg. That's about a teaspoon's worth.
Cutting your salt intake by 8.5g each day could reduce your blood pressure by 7/3 mm Hg. In the "Journal of Human Hypertension" study, researchers say it takes about five weeks to see the full effect.
Major Sodium Food Sources
Americans get most of their sodium from bread, chicken and beef dishes, pizza, pasta, condiments, Mexican food, cheese, grain-based desserts, soups, cold cuts, sausage, hot dogs, bacon, and ribs.
These foods contribute about 56 percent of the sodium in the average American's diet, or nearly 2,000mg a day. Watch out for salad dressings, soups and some cereals too.
Salt Alternatives and Lowering Sodium
A preference for salt can be trained, according to the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. Once you cut down, you won't want as much.
Your body only needs 180mg per day to balance fluids. Season your foods with fresh herbs. Taste food before adding salt, rinse canned vegetables and remove the salt shaker from the table.
Importance of Salt and Filtered Water
The combination of using authentic sea salt and drinking pure, filtered water is very therapeutic for the human body. But, avoid table salt and drinking tap water!
Salt is a vital substance for the survival of all living creatures, particularly humans. Water and salt regulate the water content of the body.
Water itself regulates the water content of the interior of the cell by working its way into all of the cells it reaches. It has to get there to cleanse and extract the toxic wastes of cell metabolisms. Salt forces some water to stay outside the cells. It balances the amount of water that stays outside the cells.
There are two "oceans" of water in the body; one ocean is held inside the cells of the body, and the other ocean is held outside the cells. Good health depends on a most delicate balance between the volume of these oceans, and this balance is achieved by salt - unrefined salt.
When water is available to get inside the cells freely, it is filtered from the outside salty ocean and injected into the cells that are being overworked despite their water shortage.
This is the reason why in severe dehydration we develop an edema and retain water. The design of our bodies is such that the extent of the ocean of water outside the cells is expanded to have the extra water available for filtration and emergency injection into vital cells.
The brain commands an increase in salt and water retention by the kidneys. This is how we get an edema when we don't drink enough water.
When we drink enough water, we pass out a lot of the salt that was held back. This is how we can get rid of edema fluid in the body; by drinking more water. Not diuretics, but more water!!
In people who have an extensive edema and show signs of their heart beginning to have irregular or very rapid beats with least effort, the increase in water intake should be gradual and spaced out, but not withheld from the body.
Naturally, salt intake should be limited for two or three days because the body is still in an overdrive mode to retain it. Once the edema has cleared up, salt should not be withheld from the body.
Salt cravings are a common occurrence and are usually not severe. There are many reasons for salt cravings and most are mild and can be treated easily. The most common reasons are: dehydration, vomit and diarrhea, excessive sweating, and Addison's disease.
Dehydration is the single most common cause of salt cravings. Dehydration is the loss of water from the body. If too much water is lost, the body will begin pulling the nutrients it needs from other sources. One of these nutrients is salt and this will cause a salt craving. This craving can be cured by drinking more water and can be prevented by getting the proper amount of water per day – at least 8 glasses.
Excessive sweating is another cause of salt cravings. When the body sweats too much, water is lost through the skin. When too much water is lost, a salt craving will occur. Anyone who has ever tasted sweat knows that it has a salty taste to it. To get rid of a salt craving due to excessive sweating, the body needs to be hydrated.
Addison’s disease is a rare endocrine or hormonal disorder. This occurs when the adrenal glands do not produce enough of the hormone cortisol. This will cause the body to crave salt. Because of this condition, the salt craving may be a little harder to treat. The salt craving will most likely not be what is treated, but will be cured as a secondary effect of treating the disease.
A salt craving is a very common occurrence in the body. Most often the salt craving will be due to a mild and common condition such as dehydration. This is easy enough to be cured and prevented. Some serious conditions can cause salt cravings, and these need the help of a doctor to diagnose and cure. No matter what the cause of the salt craving, it needs to be addressed and tended to for the body to continue functioning properly.
Note: For more information about high blood pressure, refer to Chapter 15 of the Death to Diabetes book and refer to the How to Lower Blood Pressure web page.
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