High blood pressure (BP) is serious business, as it adds considerably to risk for coronary disease and heart attack, stroke, unhealthy changes in heart structure (left ventricular hypertrophy, left atrial enlargement, enlargement of the thoracic aorta), kidney disease, and several forms of dementia including Alzheimer’s. I’ve witnessed countless numbers of people, for instance, end up on chronic dialysis from poorly controlled hypertension.
Doctors, of course, provide prescription medications for hypertension. But the drugs they use are flawed and plagued with problems. For example:
- Diuretics like hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ) and chlorthalidone deplete the body’s supply of potassium and magnesium, two potentially life-threatening side-effects. This is why there is an occasional sudden cardiac death in people taking diuretics. Diuretics also increase triglycerides/VLDL, reduce HDL, increase blood sugar and insulin resistance, and increase risk for type 2 diabetes by about 25-30%. Thiazide diuretics also slow wound healing, increase risk for skin cancer, and can trigger gout attacks.
- Beta blockers like metoprolol and atenolol block weight loss or cause weight gain, cause fatigue, and, like diuretics, increase triglycerides/VLDL, reduce HDL, increase blood sugar and insulin resistance, and increase risk for type 2 diabetes by about 25-30%.
- Vasodilators such as the ACE inhibitors (e.g., captopril, lisinopril) and ARBs (e.g., losartan, candesartan, olmesartkan) cause cough, abdominal pain, may not reduce cardiovascular risk, and have other peculiar effects.
Doctors also often fail to tell their patients about something called “residual risk”—even if normal BP is achieved on prescription drugs, the increased cardiovascular risks of high BP remain, reduced but still substantial. Controlling BP with prescription drugs is therefore a flawed practice that does not fully reduce cardiovascular risk and is filled with undesirable, sometimes profound and irreversible, side-effects.
Compare this to normal BP achieved naturally: no residual risk, no side-effects, no sudden cardiac death, virtually no cost.
The Wheat Belly lifestyle is effective at lowering BP because it addresses the three fundamental causes of high BP:
- Sodium retention—Not sodium intake, but sodium retention. We achieve this by eliminating the gliadin protein of wheat and related grains that cause sodium retention by the kidneys. Because blood levels of insulin also drop on the combination of strategies in the Wheat Belly lifestyle, this further reduces sodium retention. The profound drop in sodium retention on the Wheat Belly lifestyle is evident in the reduction/reversal of leg edema and facial swelling that develops within days of starting the program. But it also manifests in precipitous drops in high BP that necessitates reducing/eliminating blood pressure medications at the start of the program. This is why I encourage everyone to hydrate more and salt their food during the initial 7-10 days of the program to compensate for the vigorous diuresis (urinary loss of sodium and water) that develops.
- Insulin resistance—Because we eliminate wheat and grains and limit net carbs, we no longer provoke high blood sugars and high blood insulin that cause insulin resistance to develop. We also correct factors that allow insulin resistance, such as deficiencies of vitamin D, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, and we address thyroid dysfunction and dysbiosis/SIBO (that exerts its unhealthy effects via metabolic endotoxemia). All this further facilitates reversal of insulin resistance.
- Endothelial dysfunction—The constrictive tone of arteries is increased in high BP. We reverse this by reversing inflammation and nutrient deficiencies, the very same strategies that correct insulin resistance. Vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, and magnesium, in particular, make major contributions to relaxing arterial tone.
In other words, the Wheat Belly lifestyle addresses the three fundamental processes that allow high BP to emerge. What sorts of side-effects can you expect by reducing BP naturally on the Wheat Belly lifestyle? Weight loss, relief from arthritis pain, reduction/elimination of small LDL particles that lead to heart disease, reversal of fatty liver, reversal of type 2 diabetes, reduction/reversal of many autoimmune conditions, relief from acid reflux, relief from numerous forms of skin rashes, etc.—no sudden cardiac death, fatigue, or reduced HDL here.
I hope that you can appreciate that normal BP achieved naturally via the Wheat Belly strategies are not almost as good as, not equivalent, to conventional medical treatments. They are SUPERIOR.