We’ve seen it over and over again: Embark on the Wheat Belly lifestyle, particularly our complete program, as detailed in the Wheat Belly Total Health, Wheat Belly 10-Day Grain Detox, and Undoctored books, and high blood pressure (BP) plummets sufficient to allow people to get off one, two, three, even four blood pressure medications.
The program is so quick and powerful that blood pressure medication(s) need to be reduced or eliminated immediately upon starting the program (one drug at a time), as we do not want to risk any low blood pressures (hypotension). And note that we achieve dramatic reductions in BP by NOT restricting sodium/salt—in fact, I encourage salt use, particularly during the initial 10 days or so as we lose inflammatory edema, but important long-term, also, as adding more salt generates benefits such as decrease in heart rate, further improvement in insulin resistance, reversal of several hormonal distortions—all part of the metabolic recovery that develops on this lifestyle.
But why is the Wheat Belly lifestyle so effective in reducing BP, usually to ideal levels? There are a number of reasons:
- We reverse insulin resistance—Virtually everyone with high BP starts with fairly extravagant levels of insulin resistance that may manifest as high triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol, higher blood sugars/pre-diabetes/type 2 diabetes, fatty liver, and visceral fat. By removing the amylopectin A carbohydrate of wheat and grain, adding vitamin D that restores insulin sensitivity, fish oil that subdues after-meal (postprandial) lipoproteins that would otherwise add to insulin resistance, supplementing magnesium needed for blood sugar/insulin responses, iodine to normalize thyroid status, and efforts to cultivate bowel flora, it all adds up to rapid and profound reversal of insulin resistance.
- We do not limit salt—This further amplifies the reversal of insulin resistance, as well as reversing abnormally high levels of renin, angiotensin, aldosterone, and cortisol, hormones that contribute to high BP.
- Inflammation recedes—This occurs rapidly and is so dramatic that it can be reflected on the face with reduced facial swelling and around-the-eye puffiness developing within days of starting the lifestyle. The inflammation from gliadin, gliadin-derived peptides, wheat germ agglutinin, hyperinsulinemia from amylopectin A and other factors all allow inflammation to reverse. Dropping inflammation allows BP to drop.
- We lose visceral fat—Visceral fat is inflammatory fat that magnifies insulin resistance, exudes inflammatory mediators, and is responsible for hormonal distortions. As waists shrink, so do all these phenomena.
- We build muscle—This explains why some people lose many inches off their waist and thighs unaccompanied by weight loss: they are gaining muscle with the reversal of body-wide inflammation.
- We increase bowel flora metabolites—such as butyrate that mediate a reduction in BP. Increasing our intake of prebiotic fibers is the primary driver of this phenomenon.
There are other reasons, but those are the biggies. Add it all up and the Wheat Belly lifestyle frees the majority of people from awful prescription drugs used to reduce high BP. And here’s a dirty little secret: People who achieve a normal BP by taking medications do NOT eliminate risk for complications such as kidney disease and stroke, as there is still substantial risk, a phenomenon called “residual risk,” regardless of the quality or number of BP meds taken. If you achieve normal BP naturally, as we do in the Wheat Belly lifestyle, there is no residual risk—your risk reverts back to normal levels.