CARDIOLOGY, PRIMARY CARE AND NUTRITION

Blogpost: Since When Does Carbohydrates Cause Hypertension???????

It never ceases to amaze me what information is out there. Avoid carbohydrates to reverse hypertension? Fruit is ok but not grains? Add salt and plenty of fat? How could this be? I could not disagree more.

There was a study published in the Journal of Gerontology by Lilian et al. in December of 2001 that looked at hypo or decreased blood pressure in the elderly after high carbohydrate meals. This would be the opposite of the above. The ingestion of glucose and less likely fructose results normally in an increase in HR , norepinephrine, cardiac output, and an increase in peripheral vascular resistance. In other words, your heart rate goes up, you blood vessels constrict and the heart muscle contraction increases. If you don’t look at anything else, you could infer that this would result in increased blood pressure. HOWEVER, there is also more blood diverted to the gastrointestinal vessels know as the splanchnic blood vessels for absorption of nutrients and peristalsis. This diversion may result in low blood pressure unless the factors cited above occurs. In the above mentioned study, they noted that in elderly individuals, there is a blunted heart rate response so their blood pressure can actually drop after eating a high carbohydrate meal. They suggested decreasing meal size to alleviate this unwanted drop in blood pressure that resulted in dizziness after a large meal. This appears to affect people with hypertension more so than those without. It makes sense that in diseased blood vessels that are stiff, wide swings in blood pressure could happen if a large amount of blood was diverted to the digestive vessels after eating. People with cardiovascular disease also have a decreased ability to increase the cardiac output or the amount of blood pumped with each beat.

So the real answer is that hypertension should not be treated by a low carbohydrate diet. If anyting, the carbohydrates will help decrease blood pressure. Vegetables such as kale, spinach, swiss chard, collards, beet root, beet greens, broccoli and cauliflower lead to the production of nitric oxide which will dilate the blood vessels. Processed oils have been shown to result in contriction of the blood vessels for a prolonged period resulting in hypertension or high blood pressure not low blood pressure. Salt is a direct toxin to the blood vessel wall making it stiff and unresponsive as well as causing water retention by the kidneys resulting in elevated blood pressure.

Eat your fruits and vegetables. They are carbohydrates. Eat whole grains. They are also carbohydrates and have been shown to lower cholesterol and decrease cardiac events. Eat potatoes which are also carbohydrates that provide abundant macro and micronutrients. Avoid saturated fat and excessive polyunsaturated fats. We can get plenty of omega 3 fatty acids from greens, beans, and a sprinkling of chia, flax or hemp seeds. We do not need animal products for health and we certainly don’t need the salt shaker.

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