blood pressure

  1. Low salt comes with high risk

    Next time your doctor says "cut back on the salt, or else" ask him one question.

    Or else what?

    He'll tell you how all that salt is responsible for the high blood pressure that leads to heart disease. But if you've tried to cut back on salt, then you already know how well it works -- not at all.

    It's not just you.

    A low-salt diet is actually scientifically proven to have little to no impact on your BP levels, and a new study confirms it: Researchers in Europe say cutting back on sodium trims just 1 percent off a healthy person's BP levels, and 3.5 percent off those of someone battling hypertension.

    And in exchange for those meaningless dips in blood pressure, patients who stuck to the low-salt lifestyle saw a 7 percent surge in deadly triglycerides and a 2.5 percent overall boost in cholesterol levels.

    In other words, if your BP spikes a little and your doc tells you to stick to a low-salt diet to avoid hypertension meds, he'll almost certainly end up giving you those meds anyway -- and a statin to boot.

    Consider that a bonus.

    If this was the first study of its kind, it would be easy to be a little skeptical -- and there's absolutely nothing wrong with being skeptical. But it's not -- and it's not the second or third study either.

    In fact, it's the fourth study just this year to find no benefit to a low-salt diet -- not to mention the dozens of other studies that have reached the same conclusion over the years.

    If you're concerned about blood pressure, forget about salt. Cut back on sugar instead -- because the research on this has been remarkably consistent: People who consume the most sugar have the highest blood pressure levels.

    That's why one of the most immediate benefits of a low-carb diet is a swift reduction in blood pressure.

    Once you get the sugar out, don't focus on salt so much as your salt-to-potassium ratio. Thanks to processed foods, most people get more salt than potassium. In reality, you should get about three times as much potassium as salt.

    Make those two changes, and you can hit the saltshaker to your heart's content -- and never have to worry about your BP levels again.

  2. Unleash your inner caveman

    You don't need to hunt wooly mammoths to be a "caveman" these days. In fact, you don't even need a cave.

    The "caveman" diet is more about what you eat than where you live -- and if you can stick to a 100-percent natural lifestyle of fresh meats and vegetables with no processed foods, congratulations.

    You're officially a caveman.

    It's hard to find anything wrong with this diet, and science now confirms what should have been obvious all along: Eating only fresh foods can help put you in the best shape of your life and slash your risk of illness and disease.

    Researchers at the University of California San Francisco asked a group of unhealthy people to stick to a "caveman" diet high in healthy fats and proteins from meats, fish, and nuts as well as generous amounts of fresh fruits and veggies.

    After just two weeks, everyone's blood pressure and cholesterol levels plunged -- with triglycerides alone falling by an average of 30 points.

    "That's the kind of drop you get by taking statins for six months," Dr. Linda Frasettom, who led the research, told Medical News Today.

    I'd almost agree -- except statins come with a risk of severe muscle pain, liver problems and kidney damage. A diet of fresh natural foods will do none of those things to you.

    Statins can even increase your risk of diabetes -- but a diet with no added sugars and zero processed foods will practically guarantee that you'll never get the disease.

    Dr. Robert Lustig, an endocrinologist at the university, says diabetics who've tried this back-to-basics approach have seen a reversal of the condition -- and some have actually been cured.

    That's right. The "c" word -- and while most of the media is of course only too happy to trash the diet and even mock the people who follow it, one reporter got an up-close and highly personal look at just how well it works.

    Dr. Kim Mulvihill of the CBS station in San Francisco had been battling a weight problem and pre-diabetes when she volunteered for the UCSF study. In just 10 days, she saw dramatic changes to her cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels as well as a boost in energy.

    She eventually lost 30 pounds, and after seven weeks was no longer considered a pre-diabetic -- causing her own doctors to tell her to stick to the diet permanently.

    If you're facing your own battle with disease -- or simply want to avoid ever having to worry about one -- maybe it's time to go caveman yourself.

  3. Red wine: exercise in a glass

    You might think the only "exercise" you'll get from drinking wine comes from lifting the glass -- or maybe struggling to open the bottle. But it turns out resveratrol, the famous "red wine antioxidant," can actually trick the body into thinking it's getting some actual exercise -- giving you a big-time metabolic boost with every little sip.
  4. Rejected diet drug returns from the grave

    A "no" from the FDA never quite means "no" -- not when it comes to the agency's drug-industry pals, anyway. Case in point: The feds said "no" to the diet drug Contrave earlier this year over its potential for heart risk -- even after an FDA panel signed off on it.
  5. Poor sleep linked to hypertension

    If you're battling blood pressure problems, you don't need another med -- you just need better sleep... and that doesn't necessarily mean more sleep.
  6. Government guidelines lead to heart disease

    The U.S. government's dietary guidelines released last year allow people to get as much as 25 percent of their calories from added sugars. If it's not immediately obvious why that's a bad idea, a new study spells it out.
  7. Seaweed for heart health

    But in Asia, this nuisance is on the menu -- and with good reason, too: Seaweed is one of the healthiest foods you can eat, and a new review of the research finds it can boost your heart health like nothing else.
  8. Salt isn't the problem after all

    Salt has been called every name in the book and labeled Public Health Enemy Number One for its supposed role in heart disease and an early death.
  9. Diabetics can go nuts

    Well whaddaya know -- it turns out small changes in your diet can lead to small changes in your health. Researchers asked diabetics to replace a little of their daily carbs with either more carbs or nuts... and found that those who went nuts had slight improvements in blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
  10. Slash your diabetes risk with this simple vitamin

    It's so easy it seems unreal: A key weapon in the fight against diabetes might be hovering right outside your window, right now. It's the sun -- the primary source of vitamin D, and a new study shows how this pancreas-boosting super nutrient can help stop the disease before it starts.
  11. The simple test your doc always gets wrong

    The best person to check your blood pressure is you -- and the best place to do it is in the comfort of your own home. Your doctor might have the best technique in the world, but he could still get it wrong every single time -- because his very presence could be causing your BP levels to skyrocket.
  12. Music and laughter can lower BP

    A new study out of Japan finds two of our most pleasant diversions--singing and laughing--can help tame the blood pressure beast, and not just by a point or two. Volunteers actually saw seven-point drops--more than enough to bring borderline hypertension patients back from the other side.
  13. A tasty way to lower BP

    It sounds too delicious to be true: You can beat hypertension and even eliminate blood pressure drugs by simply enjoying a little oatmeal every day. But it is true--because a new study confirms again that the healthiest whole grains can dramatically lower your blood pressure levels. Scottish researchers randomly assigned more than 233 volunteers to eat three servings a day...
  14. Do-it-yourself BP control

    There's an easy way to improve your blood pressure and cut down or even eliminate meds... and you can do it right now, by yourself, in your own home.
  15. Blood pressure med in heart scare

    The last thing you'd expect from a blood pressure med is an increased cardiovascular risk--yet that's what may be happening with one common drug.
  16. The real answer to MS

    The latest research is pointing to a common blood-pressure med as an answer for multiple sclerosis.
  17. Talking sense about salt

    Finally, the absurd amount of salt we're eating is getting the attention it deserves.
  18. Big Pharma "polypill" could be five problems in one

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    Some folks seem to think the idea of replacing five drugs you don't need with a single wonder-pill is cause for celebration.
  19. Hypertension on the brain? Get it under control fast

    An interesting new study shows just how important it is to keep your blood pressure under control, especially as you age.

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