Scientists have long debated the effects of caffeine on blood pressure. But an analysis of 34 studies seems to have delivered a verdict. On average, consuming 200 to 300 mg caffeine (the amount found in one or two cups of coffee) raises systolic blood pressure by 8 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure by 6 mmHg. And the effects can last for up to three hours. (For reference, 8 ounces of drip coffee contain 100-125 mg of caffeine; the same amount of tea, 50 mg; an equal quantity of cola, about 40 mg.)
Some of the risks of blood pressure-lowering medications include headaches, dizziness, depression, sleep problems, erectile dysfunction, and renal or cardiac dysfunction. Often, these side effects lead to additional prescription drugs like testosterone or Viagra. The good news is that dietary changes, lifestyle strategies, and supplements have the potential to reverse high blood pressure without the need for lifelong prescriptions.
Studying men with hypertension who came to Pritikin, scientists at UCLA found that within three weeks, the men had significantly healthier levels of blood pressure. In fact, those who arrived at Pritikin taking hypertension drugs left Pritikin two to three weeks later no longer needing their medications, or with their dosages significantly reduced.1
Sunny days not only boost our mood, but they can help keep our blood pressure in check. A study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology found exposure to sunlight can alter the levels of nitric oxide in the skin and blood, therefore reducing the blood pressure. When exposed to sunlight, small amounts of nitric oxide are transported from the skin to the circulation lowering blood vessel tone. This decreases the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Unlike the smooth action of the hot tub pump, the human heart expands and contracts mightily each second or so, causing your blood pressure to be comparatively high one moment, and comparatively low in the next. That is why we need two measurements when checking your blood pressure: one at the moment when the pressure is highest (your systolic blood pressure), and one a moment later, when the pressure is lowest (your diastolic blood pressure).
It’s well known that high sodium can increase blood pressure. To cut back, I recommend patients avoid adding extra salt to foods, avoid foods such as pretzels where there is visible salt, and cut back on prepared foods such as microwavable meals, canned soups and restaurant meals. High-potassium foods, such as bananas and sweet potatoes, can be substituted to offset the effects of sodium to help keep blood pressure down.
There are many good options when it comes to such medication. Examples are ACE (angiotensin-converting-enzyme) inhibitors or AII-blockers (angiotensin II receptor blockers) such as Enalapril or Losartan. If this kind of medication doesn’t give the desired effect, you might have to add other medication such as so-called calcium antagonists (e.g. Felodipin) or a mild diuretic (can be found as a combined pill with Enalapril and Losartan).