There are plenty of myths around high blood pressure. Some of them, you might actually believe. Lucky for you that you’re reading this guide, because in this article, we’ll bust 4 of the most common myths about high blood pressure.
In no particular order:
Myth #1: It Runs in My Family, So There’s Nothing I Can Do About It
Not true. What a lot of people blame on “genetics” is really just inherited environment. If your eating, exercise, and sleep patterns are the same as your parents and grandparents, you’ll get the conditions that they got.
There’s a saying that “genetics load the gun, but environment pulls the trigger.” That is to say that you may have the genes for high blood pressure, but genes are not destiny. Rather, they’re more like an on/off switch. If the environment is right, the switch will be turned on (you’ll get high blood pressure). If the environment is not conducive to high blood pressure (and therefore, conducive to good health), the switch will be turned off.
So yes, your whole family may have high blood pressure, but you don’t have to get it as well. Or, if you already have it, in a very large number of cases, it’s highly reversible. Follow the advice in this guide for at least a month, and see if that doesn’t turn it around.
Myth #2: You Have to Lose Weight to Lower Your Blood Pressure
This one makes perfect sense. After all, the theory goes, if you have too much body fat, it compresses arteries, and raises blood pressure, or the heart must supply blood to a larger body, so it has to pump harder.
But there’s a mountain of studies (many of them included in the different modules throughout this guide) showing decreased blood pressure when X increases/decreases (where “X” can be potassium, magnesium, sodium, etc.), without concurrent decreases in weight.
So maybe it’s not the weight loss that’s causing the lower blood pressure, but the stuff you have to do to lose weight, like eat a diet higher in vegetables (higher potassium and magnesium), and lower in processed food (therefore lower in sodium). But what if calories were the same, but potassium and magnesium increased, and sodium decreased? Or what if your weight stayed the same, but you started exercising? Or what if your weight stayed the same, but you took a supplement to help you lower blood pressure? Would it work? The research is fairly conclusive on this one: yes!
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t lose weight if you’ve got the weight to lose. It will have other benefits besides lowering blood pressure. But as anyone who’s ever tried to lose weight knows, it’s a long, slow, laborious process. Losing 50 pounds might take 25-75 weeks. But normalizing blood pressure? That can be done in a month or less (see Module 6 on how to do that).
In fact, with many of my clients, their blood pressure normalizes far before their weight comes into the “ideal” range.
Myth #3: High Blood Pressure Just Comes with Age
Not true. If age was the single most important factor in the development of high blood pressure, then everyone over a certain age would have it. But not everyone does.
There’s a saying that “time amplifies bad habits.” If you have a bad habit for a year, that’s not great. But if you carry the same bad habit for 40 years, well, it’s a lot worse, and you’ll feel the consequences much more.
You don’t exercise when you’re 25? No big deal (not great, but the effects aren’t noticeable yet). You don’t exercise when you’re 65? Big deal.
You eat poorly when you’re 25? No big deal. You eat poorly when you’re 65? That’s 40 more years than 25 years of bad eating.
So it’s not like high blood pressure just comes with age – it doesn’t. Your bad habits have greater consequences the longer you’ve been doing them.
Fortunately, many of these bad consequences are reversible. You have high blood pressure? That’s because you’re sending signals to the body, to make it believe like high blood pressure is advantageous to the inputs you’re putting in. Change the inputs (exercise, nutrition, supplements, sleep), and your output changes (lower blood pressure, more energy, less body fat, better sleep, etc.).
Myth #4: One Blood Pressure Measurement is Enough
Did you know that you can have different blood pressure readings between your right and your left sides? And not by a little bit, either, but as much as 15 mmHg, or more.
If you have high blood pressure on both sides, and the difference between sides is only about 5 mmHg, then your high blood pressure is truly a cardiovascular problem.
But if you do have a substantial difference (again, substantial is about 15 mmHg or more) between your right and left sides, then your problem isn’t cardiovascular – it’s neurological. The part of the brain that controls blood pressure on both sides is called the “medulla oblongata”, which is in the brain stem. So if one side has high blood pressure, it’s important to test the other side. If your other side has normal blood pressure, then the treatment should be neurologically-oriented. Not aimed towards the heart.
There’s a decent number of people out there walking around, inappropriately being treated for high blood pressure, when their real problem is with the brain stem.
Now that we’ve busted some of the most common myths about high blood pressure, let’s talk about what to actually do to reverse it.