Hypertension under Control
According to studies, 55% of all 35-64-year-old Germans suffer from arterial hypertension (high blood pressure). From the age of 65, the figure is as high as 60-80%. The number of unreported cases is estimated to be much higher, as about 50% of those affected have no knowledge of their disease.
High blood pressure does not initially cause pain or other symptoms and thus remains undetected for a long time. This is problematic because undetected high blood pressure can cause damage to organs such as the kidneys, eyes or heart over a period of years.
How blood pressure develops
In order for blood to flow through the blood vessels to all organs and tissues, force and pressure are required. The pumping of the heart and the elasticity of the vessel walls ensure that this pressure is created. With each beat, the heart powerfully pumps blood into the blood vessels. The blood transported in this way exerts pressure on the vessel walls, which resist this pressure. Together, these two factors account for the level of blood pressure.
When do we talk about hight blood pressure?
Blood pressure is considered to be increased if the first, systolic value exceeds 140 mmHg (millimeters of mercury) or the second diastolic value exceeds 90 mmHg – or both values are higher. Based on these reference values, specialists classify high blood pressure into different degrees of severity:
- mild hypertension: 140-159 / 90-99 mmHg
- moderately increased: 160-179 / 100-109 mmHg
- severe: more than 180 / more than 110 mmHg
Risk of high blood pressure
In medicine, a distinction is made between two forms of hypertension – essential or primary hypertension and secondary hypertension.
Primary hypertension is present in 90% of hypertensive patients. Several factors can affect the regulation of blood pressure. In addition to age and hereditary predisposition, the main factors that increase blood pressure are obesity, a nutrition with too much salt, alcohol consumption, smoking, lack of exercise, stress or even medication.
In secondary hypertension, an underlying disease such as a circulatory disorder of the kidneys, narrowing of the renal artery, hormonal disorders or the so-called sleep apnea syndrome is the cause of the elevated blood pressure.
Permanently elevated blood pressure can damage blood vessels and cause hardening of the vessel walls. If, in addition, the cholesterol in the blood is elevated, this can lead to deposits and a narrowing of the vessels, which causes the blood pressure to rise further. High blood pressure always damages the kidneys. Due to the high pressure, the tiny filtering devices in the kidney die off. As a result, the kidneys are severely impaired in their filtering functions and the metabolic end products are not excreted by the organism at all or only insufficiently.
Hypertension and overweight
A major cause of high blood pressure is obesity. From an excess weight of about 10 kg, the blood pressure increases by about 2.3 mmHg diastolic and leads to a strain on the heart and the circulation, since a larger body mass must be supplied with blood. In addition, the abdominal fatty tissue produces increased angiotensinogen in the body. Angiotensinogen is a tissue hormone that docks to the receptors of the vascular muscles, stimulating the contraction of the vascular muscles, thus contributing to a narrowing of the blood vessels and increasing blood pressure.
In addition, overweight people often also produce too much insulin. Insulin not only regulates blood sugar levels alone, but also influences a special protein, ANP (atrial natriuretic peptide), which helps regulate blood pressure in the body by stimulating increased excretion of fluid via the kidneys when there is high pressure in the vessels. Scientists have found that insulin promotes the breakdown of ANP in adipose tissue, and as a result, overweight people have low levels of ANP, and so this pathway to blood pressure regulation is absent in them.
Hypertension and salt consumption
Sustained high salt consumption can lead to high blood pressure. This also increases the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. The intake recommendations for table salt range from 3.75 g (American Heart Association) to 5 g/day (WHO) and 6 g/day (Deutsche Hochdruckliga – German Hypertension League) to 6.25 g/day (European Society of Cardiology). In fact, according to a DEGS study (Study on the Health of Adults in Germany), the daily intake of table salt in Germany is 8.4 g/day for women and 10 g/day for men.
Sodium chloride, the main component of salt, is essential for life and performs numerous tasks in the body. For example, it controls the water balance and coordinates the transmission of stimuli to muscle and nerve cells, participates in bone building and activates metabolic processes. In addition, chloride is an important component of gastric acid and therefore necessary for the digestion of protein in the stomach.
Every single cell in the body needs sodium and chloride to allow nutrients to enter the cells. This is because these two substances ensure a permanent exchange of water and nutrients at the cell membranes. The salt concentration before and in the cell is decisive for this. If there is a higher salt concentration outside the cell than inside the cell, water flows out of the cell to compensate for the difference. Conversely, water from the environment flows into the cell as soon as the salt concentration outside is lower than inside.
According to the same principle, sodium chloride can also have an effect on blood pressure: The more salt is absorbed through food and gets into the blood, the higher the fluid content must be there. Therefore, if a lot of salt is eaten, more water is extracted from the cells and incorporated into the blood – the blood volume increases. If the salt intake and thus also the blood volume are increased in the long term, the blood vessels subsequently react by contracting, i.e. they become narrower and the blood pressure rises.
However, how sensitively blood pressure responds to an increase in salt concentration seems to depend on various factors such as genetic predisposition, body weight and age, and is not the same for everyone. This is referred to as salt sensitivity.
The majority of the salt intake is generally through processed foods. However, these are not always just the classic ready-made products. Important sources of salt are primarily bread and bakery products, meat and sausage, dairy and salty snacks.
Metabolic Balance – Regulating hypertension without medication
With the Metabolic Balance nutrition program, we have a tool at hand with which we can have a positive influence on high blood pressure in a very short time and possibly even reduce blood pressure medication. Therefore, regular monitoring of blood pressure is urgently needed in hypertensive clients, especially in the first phase of the nutrition program. This is because during the preparation phase we at Metabolic Balance already start a detoxification program for the body by preparing it for the upcoming dietary change with light food based on vegetables, fruit, potatoes or whole grain rice and with sufficient fluid intake. At the beginning, plenty of water is washed out, which relieves the organs and blood pressure.
In the further course of the Metabolic Balance program, a moderate blood sugar and insulin level is achieved through the selection of foods, i.e. the ANP level in the body also gradually rises again, thus fulfilling its task of helping to regulate blood pressure. At the same time, fat cells produce less angiotensinogen with increasing weight loss.
Studies have shown that blood pressure can be reduced by about 2 mmHg per kilogram (about 2 lbs) of weight loss.
Similarly, salt consumption is greatly reduced in the Metabolic Balance nutrition program. This is not because Metabolic Balance explicitly recommends using less salt, but because there are no processed food products and foods with a high salt content on the menu. The salt from the typical household salt we add to our food ourselves is usually only a fraction of the amount we consume daily through processed foods.
- Thomas Semlitsch, et.al.: “Long-term effects of weight-reducing diets in people with hypertension” -02/März/2016 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26934541/
- Institut für Qualität und Wirtschaftlichkeit im Gesundheitswesen (IQWiG) (2019): Den Blutdruck ohne Medikamente senken, https://www.gesundheitsinformation.de/den-blutdruck-ohne-medikamente-senken.2083.de.html?part=behandlung-ne#zh6a zuletzt aufgerufen am 12.01.2021.