Dr Dingle's Blog / diabetes

Essential oils and gut health. Part 1

Essential oils and gut health. Part 1

The research over the past 30 years has demonstrated the critical importance of the gut for our health, not just gut health but so many of the chronic health conditions from asthma and allergies to Alzheimer’s. While much emphasis has been placed on the use of probiotics for our gut and our health, research has also shown multiple gut health benefits of Essential oils (EO).

Our gut health is dependent on many factors working together from our microbiome which acts like an organ on its own to the workings of the nervous, immune and endocrine (hormone) systems coordinating together. As well as the role of inflammation and oxidation in contributing to the damage within these systems. The benefit of essential oils is they work on multiple levels at the same time through all these systems and processes.

For example, studies have shown that essential oils can help rebalance the gut microbiome. Essential oils are used extensively in the animal industry to control microbial outbreaks and disease with increasing use as antibiotics are phased out and in human studies to control opportunistic microorganisms in the gut like Helicobacter pylori, Clostridia, Candida and Salmonella species. They have also been used in many human studies to help control microbial outbreaks where antibiotic resistance has occurred. Similarly, studies have shown the benefits of essential oils in protecting against dental decay and overgrowth of the oral microbiome. Yes, we have an oral microbiome that doesn’t just look after our mouth and teeth but is thought to play a significant role in throat and stomach microbiome which is closely linked with cancers of these areas.

Some very recent studies have also demonstrated their role in supporting some of the beneficial gut species including Lactobacilli and Bifidobacterium. In one study investigating the role of some essential oils on weight loss found that its primary mechanism was by positively altering the gut microbiome and increased the relative abundance of Bifidobacterium which then contributed to improved weight loss. While other studies have shown essential oils have positive effects on the intestinal barriers function, or as we normally call “Leaky Gut”.

Recent studies have also shown the role of a dysfunctional nervous, immune and endocrine (hormone) system in many aspects of poor gut health including reflux, Small Intestinal Bacteria Overgrowth (SIBO) and various large bowel conditions like IBD and IBS. Repeated studies have shown the benefits of essential oils in positively modulating these systems though different mechanisms.

Overall essential oils show great promise in assisting and protecting the gut and promoting good gut health. In the following blogs we will be investigating some of the specific actions of essential oils and how they can work to fix the gut

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Overcomnig illness

Overcomnig illness

Most people do not realise that the majority of the chronic illnesses we suffer from today are not only preventable but many are also reversible.So what better way to show you than individual case studies. But these are only a few of the hndreds and hundreds we have seen

Ann was diagnosed with systemic sclerosis at 24yrs and after 8 months she was totally able to reverse the condition. She is now 41yrs old.

Claire was diagnosed in 2009 as a type II diabetic suffering extreme cramps in my calves, feet, hands, abdominal muscles when bent over and in my neck muscles when yawning too hard. Night time was a nightmare – the worse one was when I had leg cramp ten times in one night, each episode taking up to 20 – 30 minutes to “walk off”. All her results are back within normal limits.

Robyn was suddenly taken ill in the in the early '90s and was diagnosed with everything from Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome to Fibromyalgia and became moderately depressed. She started changing her cleaning and personal care items and noticed small improvements. She eats no refined foods, avoids people and situations that don't have a positive input into our lives, including TV and newspapers. She meditates 20 minutes twice every day and goes to bed early and get up early ensuring a good 8-9hrs sleep every night. She now uses a treadmill each day, and can jog for 40 mins and hasn’t felt so good since that last day she played tennis 2 decades ago. She said she now feels about 40yrs old instead of 64yrs and is almost free from all the pain she endured for all that time. “Life is good (again)”.

At 61, Derek started to experience pain in my chest and was referred to a heart specialist and was told that my main artery was 75% to 80% blocked and another two were 30% blocked. He was told that although a good diet would help some, it was not possible to clear the blockages completely and he would require a stent. He made changes in his diet and lifestyle and a year later he went back for another stress test. His stamina and heart function were so greatly improved and his cardiologist could not believe it. The blockages were reduced to the point that they hardly registered at all. In fact, the cardiologist was so impressed he wanted Derek to talk to his team about what I did to get such amazing results. Derek is now 65 and says he feels great. “Peter’s book is filled with amazing information and is the first step to educating yourself”

At 65 Sam had shingles, sleep apnoea, 4 hours of ordinary sleep a night and acid reflux. After just one month of adopting an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant anti- acid producing diet and a few practices to help with his stress he felt like a new man. Still a long way to go he hasn’t felt this good in decades.

Rebecca was 16 and had almost every possible skin condition including eczema, psoriasis and acne. She was tired and because of her skin very antisocial. Applying some anti-inflammatory nutrients like aloe vera and green tea extract to her skin along with strong probiotics, prebiotics and foods to feed the gut microbiota Rebecca saw big changes in just 2 months. She also used low toxicity skin care products without parabens, phthalates and solvents and cut out sugar, sweets and processed food from her diet.

Belinda’s blood pressure was as high as 204/105. Yesterday it was 116/56. “Diet and drug companies are not overjoyed when I speak. I am 81 and the body is better now than 60 years ago”. The secret is she walks briskly 30 minutes a day and average 7,000 steps a day, eat five times a day (small nutritious portions) and avoid processed high salt and sugar, drink lots of water… lots of it. No sugar drinks. Belinda now talks to clubs, businesses and groups all over East Texas with a fun simple message of transforming to a healthy, happy life no matter how old or young you are.

Barry’s blood pressure recently shot up to over 220/110. He saw five different doctors. They all had the same answer: pharmaceuticals. Turns out the root cause was that I recently had an appendectomy, and during the surgery they had misaligned my C1 vertebra. Along with improved nutrition and a healthier lifestyle my chiropractor fixed me.

Amanda followed the program we teach and has one or two smoothies every day, supplements and off sugar and processed foods and within one month her blood pressure dropped more than 50 points, her psoriasis disappeared and she more energy than I had 20 years ago.

It is amazing what the body can do once it has the good nutrition and lifestyle factors to heal itself

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Artificial Sweeteners, health and the gut microbiome

Artificial Sweeteners, health and the gut microbiome

Artificial sweeteners or Non-caloric artificial sweeteners (NAS) are commonly added to food with increasing controversy regarding their potential ability to promote metabolic imbalances and lead to weight gain instead of weight loss and diabetes type 2. Unfortunately, many people see these drinks and additives as being healthy. The research shows the opposite

The first report on NAS interactions with the microbiome dates back to the early 1980s. Since then, diets containing non-caloric artificial sweeteners (including saccharin, sucralose, and aspartame) have been linked to gut dysbiosis and glucose intolerance even at relatively low doses (5–7 mg/kg/d, equivalent to an adult consuming two to three cans of diet soda per day).

 A study of Splenda, a nonnutritive sweetener containing 1% sucralose, found that the substance impaired the growth of gut bacteria in rats. Ace-K, like sodium saccharin and sodium cyclamate, belongs to sulfonamides, a chemical class associated with antimicrobial activity. In previous studies, saccharin was recognised to enrich the biosynthesis pathway of lipopolysaccharides (LPS) of the mouse gut microbiome, which is a common trigger of inflammation and leaky gut. Studies have also shown different and healthier bacterial diversity for nonconsumers compared to consumers of artificial sweeteners.

In another experiment where commercial formulations of saccharin, sucralose, or aspartame were added to the drinking water of lean mice for 11 weeks all three NAS-consuming groups developed glucose intolerance. NAS was also shown to induce changes in gut microbiota previously observed in T2DType 2 diabetes; notably, the over-representation of gram-negative Bacteroides and under-representation of gram-positive Clostridiales. Another study of 800 healthy and prediabetics showed variability in their after meal (postprandial) glucose responses to the same foods attributed to differences in gut microbiota. While a study of 345 Chinese volunteers revealed that diabetics have a decrease in butyrate-producing bacteria and an increase in opportunistic pathogens relative to healthy subjects.

On the positive side, the sugar alcohol xylitol inhibits the growth of some negative bacterial species including Streptococcus mutans. It is used as a food additive to prevent dental caries and in rats fed a high-fat diet, xylitol improved lipid/fat metabolism. Dietary supplementation with low- or medium-dose xylitol significantly positively altered the fecal microbiota composition in studied mice.

So what are you having in your next drink??

 

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Our cells are on fire -inflammation

Our cells are on fire -inflammation

If you have been to one of my talks you would have heard me emphasize the importance of inflammation and the need to lower your body's chronic inflammation levels. Of course one of the major sources of ongoing chronic inflammation is the gut.

Inflammation is literally the body “on fire” and is a primary immune mechanism response of the body to a range of noxious stimuli. This can include infectious agents, such as bacteria or virus, oxidation or acidosis, damaged or diseased tissues.

The main function of inflammation is a short-term response to resolve infection and to repair damage in order to achieve homeostasis (balance) in the body. The ideal inflammatory response is therefore rapid and destructive, yet specific and very limited. This is the reddening and swelling you see around any infected or injured area. Most of us are familiar with redness, heat, swelling, and pain associated with inflammation. These symptoms are created by the activity of immune cells working to break down injured and dying tissues so that new, healthy ones can replace them.

Unfortunately, we have created a situation in which we now suffer from chronic low-level inflammation over decades of our lives as a result of our unhealthy and unbalanced lifestyles and diet. Chronic inflammation is being shown to be involved in the onset and the development of most, if not all, chronic illnesses that are currently at epidemic proportions in our society. These include atherosclerosis (damaged and blocked arteries), heart disease, stroke, obesity, neurodegenerative diseases, depression, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, thyroid disorders, diabetes, asthma, autism, arthritis, celiac disease, eczema, psoriasis, multiple sclerosis, lupus, migraines, periodontal disease, sleep apnea, chronic kidney failure, cancer and ageing. This is a long list, yet these are only the most common conditions.

Even though chronic inflammation in the body is hard to detect, there are some common symptoms for which we should be on the lookout. These include the following:

Chronic pain in the joints and/or muscles

Allergies or asthma

Elevated blood pressure

Fluctuations in blood sugar levels

Gut issues (constipation or diarrhoea)

Fatigue

Aches, pain and soreness

The inflammatory process is driven by the immune system. In order to reduce the incidence of disease, you must reduce inflammation, and to reduce inflammation you must identify and eliminate immune system trigger(s). The typical approach of allopathic medicine is to treat the symptoms of the disease itself, or the immune system (with immune-suppressive drugs) or inflammation (with anti-inflammatory drugs) directly without addressing the underlying cause of the disease. Sustainable health, on the other hand, looks at identifying and eliminating the sources of the inflammation to address the situation at its cause.

 

[1] Shelton and Miller 2010.

[2] Schwarzenberg and Sinaiko 2006.

[3] Taubes 2002; Ridker et al. 1997, 2000.

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Emulsifiers in your food are probably causing you gut problems.

Emulsifiers in your food are probably causing you gut problems.

Until very recently little research has been done on the impact of food additives on the gut microbiome, despite their widespread use. Food additives are substances intentionally added during production, processing, packaging, transportation, or storage of commercial food products. However, many food additives including emulsifiers, flavor enhancers, non-caloric artificial sweeteners, organic solvents, gluten and nanoparticles are increasingly used in food processing and being shown to negatively impact microbiota composition.[1]

Emulsifiers, a ubiquitous component of processed foods, and often considered inert have been shown to adversely affect the composition of the gut microbiota and lead to low-grade inflammation.[2] In the intestines a multilayered mucus structure covers the intestinal surface allowing the vast majority of gut bacteria to be kept at a safe distance from gut cells that line the intestine.[3] It seems that emulsifiers, which have detergent-like molecules dissolve and damage the mucous membrane leading to bacterial and toxin movement across gut wall.[4]

In experiments the commonly used food additives, carrageenan (407) and carboxymethylcellulose (466) (CMC) are used to develop intestinal inflammation in animal models. Animal and human studies consistently report that carrageenan and CMC induce cell changes that are typical of inflammatory bowel disease while altering the microbiome, disrupting the intestinal lining and stimulating inflammation.[5] Carrageenan is commonly used and has substantially increased over the last 50years[6] as a thickening and emulsifying food additive to improve the texture of commercial food products. It is found in milk alternatives such as almond and soy milk, processed meats, and soy-based products, dairy products such as chocolate milk, ice cream, cottage cheese, sour cream, and yogurt, mayonnaise and infant formula.[7]

Two recently studied synthetic dietary emulsifiers polysorbate 80 (P80) and carboxymethylcellulose (CMC) promote inflammatory gut disorders and act directly our microbiome to increase inflammation. As a result the studies suggest that broad use of emulsifying agents might be contributing to increased incidence of obesity, metabolic syndrome and other chronic inflammatory diseases. To support this transferring feces from emulsifier-treated mice to healthy mice resulted in similar host and microbial alterations observed in mice directly treated with emulsifiers[8] including tumor development and low-grade gut inflammation.[9] Carboxymethylcellulose use is widespread throughout the food industry in products typically consumed by children including candy, chewing gum, snack foods,ketchup, and various baked goods, and currently, there are no quantitative restrictions on its use nor does its addition to food require to be declared in most countries.[10]

[1] Lerner and Matthias, 2015.

[2] Chassaing et al., 2015.

[3] Johansson et al., 2008.

[4] Roberts et al., 2010.

[5] Martino et al., 2017.

[6] Tobacman et al., 200; Borthakur et al., 2007.

[7] Borthakur et al., 2007.

[8] Chassaing et al., 2017.

[9] Viennois et al., 2017.

[10] Swidsinski et al., 2009.

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The health benefits of our life purpose

The health benefits of our life purpose

Many studies have been done on psychosocial factors and their impact on our health and even how long we live. More recently some of these have been able to show that having a sense of purpose can have many health benefits from lowering stress to reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease cancer and even living longer and it doesn’t matter how old you are. The benefits of perceiving and living a life directed toward a broader purpose are widespread and feeling that you have a sense of purpose in life may help you live longer, no matter what your age.

At a biological level having a sense of purpose has been shown to be associated with more positive body biochemistry and lower cortisol (stress) levels and lower levels of proinflammatory cytokines 1, the chemicals linked to cancer, heart attacks and chronic disease which represents one possible mechanism through which purpose in life influences mortality.

Having a purpose in life provides individuals with a sense of direction and goals for the future, as well as a marker of flourishing and a life well-lived. A strong sense of purpose buffers us from the storms of life. It like the roots of a tree, keeping us steady and grounded even in stormy weather. It provides us with a greater sense of controlling our direction in life, are more motivated and may even feel inspired. However, our sense of purpose is not to make money it has to be directed at something greater than yourself.

In research among teens and young adults having a sense of purpose enabled them to look beyond themselves to appreciate their role in the world and to build the psychological resilience necessary to overcome adversity. There is evidence that focusing on personally meaningful and valued goals can buffer the negative effects of stress by allowing individuals to reinforce a sense of who they are and that creating opportunities for individuals to cultivate a sense of purpose is important as we move forward as a society2.

Having a high sense of purpose in life has also been associated with lower risk of heart disease and stroke. In a review of 10 relevant studies with the data of more than 137,000 people they defined purpose in life as a sense of meaning and direction, and a feeling that life is worth living. Previous research has linked purpose to psychological health and well-being and this study found that a high sense of purpose is associated with a 23 percent reduction in death from all causes and a 19 percent reduced risk of heart attack, stroke, or the need for coronary artery bypass surgery or a cardiac stenting procedure. This is better than any drug and has multiple other benefits.

Previous studies have suggested that finding a purpose in life lowers risk of mortality above and beyond other factors that are known to predict longevity. Purposeful adults tend to outlive their peers and experience a diminished risk for both cognitive decline and disability in older adulthood. Moreover, having a purpose in life appears to lead to unique health benefits relative to other aspects of psychological well-being, such as having positive relations with others. In this study of 749 people with an average age of 60 found that the participants’ sense of purpose was positively associated with multiple positive health qualities including vigorous and moderate activity, vegetable intake, flossing, and sleep quality 3.

In another study of 6985 adults between the ages of 51 to 61 and a follow up for 14 years life purpose was significantly associated with all-cause mortality. Those with the strongest sense of purpose almost 2 and a half times more likely to be alive comparing those in the lowest life purpose category. Particularly compelling was the reduction in deaths from heart, circulatory, and blood conditions. Purpose had similar benefits for adults regardless of retirement status, a known mortality risk factor. And the longevity benefits of purpose in life held even after other indicators of psychological well-being, such as positive relations and positive emotions, were taken into account. These findings suggest that there's something unique about finding a purpose that seems to be leading to greater longevity 4.  

These findings point to the fact that finding a direction for life, and setting overarching goals for what you want to achieve can help you actually live longer, regardless of when you find your purpose. So the earlier someone comes to a direction for life, the earlier these protective effects may be able to occur.

So what is your sense of purpose?

Write it down

References

1          Ryff  CD, Singer  BH, Dienberg Love  G.  Positive health: connecting well-being with biology.  Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2004;359(1449):1383-1394.

 

2          A. L. Burrow, P. L. Hill. Derailed by Diversity? Purpose Buffers the Relationship Between Ethnic Composition on Trains and Passenger Negative Mood. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 2013; DOI: 10.1177/0146167213499377

 

3          Patrick L Hill, Grant W Edmonds, Sarah E Hampson. A purposeful lifestyle is a healthful lifestyle: Linking sense of purpose to self-rated health through multiple health behaviors.

 

4          . P. L. Hill, N. A. Turiano. Purpose in Life as a Predictor of Mortality Across Adulthood. Psychological Science, 2014; DOI: 10.1177/0956797614531799

 

 

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The healing power of raw cabbage

The healing power of raw cabbage

Another reason to add some of the cabbage family to your daily diet, preferably raw is because of their gut healing properties and how they promote gut health through the gut microbiome. The Brassica family including cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts, kale, arugula (rocket), bok choy, cauliflower, collard greens, radish, turnip and others have been recognized for their gut healing and gut health properties for hundreds of years and modern epidemiologic studies have shown a frequent consumption of cruciferous vegetables is associated with lower risk of cancer, especially cancers of the digestive tract, bladder, breast, prostate, and lung. However, only now are we recognizing that many of these benefits are mediated through the microbiome and that their frequent consumption alters the composition of the microbiome.

Cruciferous vegetables are a rich source of glucosinolates a precursor to the Isothiocyanates (ITC), which exhibit powerful biological functions in fighting cancers, cardiovascular, neurodegenerative diseases and gut healing. The Isothiocyanates are a by product of specific plant enzymes (myrosinase) active during chewing or crushing when broccoli is consumed raw or lightly steamed, however, like all enzymes myrosinase is deactivated by cooking and ingestion of cooked broccoli typically provides only about one tenth the amount of isothiocyanates as that from raw broccoli. So to maximize the gut healing, gut health and overall benefits of these foods they are best eaten raw or just lightly steamed.

Instead when cooked cruciferous vegetables are consumed, gut bacteria are mainly responsible for ITC production in the gut. This is highlighted after taking oral antibiotics, the ITCs availability and uptake decreases after eating cooked cruciferous vegetable. It also appears that there is considerable difference in the ability of individuals, due to individual differences in gut microbial community, to produce the isothiocyanates. Although, the gut communitys ability is altered over just 4 days. In one study feeding raw or cooked broccoli for four days or longer both changed the microbiota composition and caused a greater production of isothiocyanates. Interestingly, a three-day withdrawal from broccoli reversed the increased microbial metabolites suggesting that the microbiota requires four or more days of broccoli consumption and is reversible.

The lactic acid bacteria appear to have myrosinase-like activity and the fermented Brassica food products, such as sauerkraut and kimchi, are particularly rich in Lactobacillus, and a diet rich in Brassica may promote Lactobacillus growth in the colon.

 

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Curcumin (turmeric)stops age and diet relted arterial damage

Curcumin (turmeric)stops age and diet relted arterial damage

Curcumin, a main component of natural turmeric (Curcuma longa Linn, Turmeric), is a type of polyphenol, which has long been used for curry spice, Chinese traditional herbal medicine, or in Japan, as food coloring for Japanese confectioneries.
Recent studies have shown that curcumin has different beneficial physiological activities in the body. Curcumin is known to have anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory actions and anticancer action through multiple actions (cytostasis, induction of apoptosis, and anti-angiogenesis, anti-virus action, and cytoprotective).
Furthermore, curcumin is known to lower blood lipid (fat) levles, affecting various transcription factors that control gene expression involved in glucose and fat metabolism, and curcumin intake is expected to reduce different disorders caused by a high-fat diet (HFD).
In this study, they examined the effects of long-term administration of curcumin on artery aging and chronic inflammation—the causes of arteriosclerotic disease. in the high fat diet group oxidative stress increased with cell regulation in the arteries followed by increased dying cells and enhanced inflammation. While the group with curcumin added had suppression of oxidative stress and the arteries of mice at 80 weeks (old age) were the equivalent of those of the 8 week old mice in the experiment.
It seems curcumin has anti-ageing effects on our arteries which is why I supplement with it every day
Source. Curcumin Inhibits Age-Related Vascular Changes in Aged Mice Fed a High-Fat Diet.
https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/10/10/1476/htm
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Fasting reverses Type 2 diabetes

Fasting reverses Type 2 diabetes

Despite what we are often told the overwhelming evidence shows that Type 2 diabetes is a diet and lifestyle illness. It also shows that when you reverse the conditions that caused it the disease is also reversible.

Type 2 diabetes (T2D) is a chronic disease closely linked to the epidemic of obesity that requires long-term medical attention to limit the development of its wide range of complications. Many of these complications arise from the combination of resistance to insulin action, inadequate insulin secretion, and excessive or inappropriate glucagon secretion. Approximately 10% of the population of the USA and Canada have a diagnosis of T2D, and the morbidity and mortality rates associated with it are fairly high. The economic burden of T2D in the USA is $245 billion and around $20 billion in Australia.

This case documents three patients referred to the Intensive Dietary Management clinic in Toronto, Canada, for insulin-dependent type 2 diabetes. It demonstrates the effectiveness of therapeutic fasting to reverse their insulin resistance, resulting in cessation of insulin therapy while maintaining control of their blood sugars. In addition, these patients were also able to lose significant amounts of body weight, reduce their waist circumference and also reduce their glycated haemoglobin level.

These three cases exemplify that therapeutic fasting may reduce insulin requirements in T2D. Given the rising cost of insulin, patients may potentially save significant money. Further, the reduced need for syringes and blood glucose monitoring may reduce patient discomfort.

Therapeutic fasting has the potential to fill this gap in diabetes care by providing similar intensive caloric restriction and hormonal benefits as bariatric surgery without the invasive and dangerous surgery. During fasting periods, patients are allowed to drink unlimited amounts of very low-calorie fluids such as water, coffee, tea and bone broth. A general multivitamin supplement is encouraged to provide adequate micronutrients. Precise fasting schedules vary depending primarily on the patient’s preference, ranging from 16 hours to several days. On eating days, patients are encouraged to eat a diet low in sugar and refined carbohydrates, which decreases blood glucose and insulin secretion.

This means that patients with T2D can reverse their diseases without the worry of side effects and financial burden of many pharmaceuticals, as well as the unknown long-term risks and uncertainty of surgery, all by means of therapeutic fasting.

 

Source http://casereports.bmj.com/content/2018/bcr-2017-221854.full

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Dr Dingle’s Blood Pressure Smoothie

Dr Dingle’s Blood Pressure Smoothie

The reason I call it the blood pressure smoothie is all of the ingredients have been shown in many scientific studies to reduce blood pressure. By no way is this meant to replace advice from you GP but you can share it with them and see if they are interested in preventing the problem rather than just treating it with pharmaceuticals. Remember also that I am not a GP I am just the guy who does all the research which is why I have a PhD.

4 ingredients in order of importance

Beetroot

Almonds (soaked for at least 8 hours)

Linseed (flaxseed)

Filtered re-mineralised ionized water.

 

Extras for taste and minerals

Banana

Coconut

Dates

 

Start by grinding the linseed and the almond in the smoothie maker.

Add the beetroot and the filtered water to make up to the constituency you need.

If you want to make it a bit sweeter add some ripe banana, dates or coconut water (and coconut meat if you have the whole coconut) as they are rich in Potassium (and other minerals) which is essential for muscle relaxation and tastes great. But wait till the banana is ripe for the best taste. You can also cold green tea instead of water to add to the antioxidant mix.

The properties that make this smoothie such a potent blood pressure mix is all of the ingredients have excellent antioxidant properties, rich in minerals and other nutrients liked with lowering blood pressure in scientific studies.

Background

High blood pressure or hypertension is having a blood pressure reading of above of around 90mm Hg on 140mm Hg. Hypertension itself is not a disease but a condition or as an indicator of ‘increased risk’ of cardiovascular disease. Patients who are hypertensive have an increased risk of heart attack and stroke due to the direct correlation between the two. Hypertension also contributes significantly to the increased risk of kidney failure and other chronic illness.

In healthy people the cells of blood vessels produce the substance called nitric oxide (NO) which instructs smooth muscles surrounding arteries to relax. If they cant relax they stay rigid and you end up with high blood pressure. The NO is produced in a single layer of cells that line the inside of the arteries called the endothelium. If this tissue is damaged in the case of too much pressure, oxidation or through other means it stops producing NO and blood pressure rises.

Many of the beneficial actions of nutrition on lowering blood pressure results both directly and indirectly through improving endothelial tissue and NO production and release from this tissue. Two major pathways to increase NO are increase the rates of nitrates in the diet, the building block for NO, and L-Arginine which stimulate the enzyme to manufacture NO. Endothelial-derived NO also inhibits platelet adhesion, activation, secretion, and aggregation and promotes platelet disaggregation so you are less likely to have a stroke. A third mechanism that is absolutely critical is to protect and repair the endothelium, remember it is only one cell thick and very susceptible to damage. Vitamin C and antioxidants are essential for this part.

Diets high in dietary nitrate such as beetroot are associated with reduced blood pressure increased exercise performance as a result of vasodilation (expansion) of the blood vessels and a decreased incidence in cardiovascular disease. 100-200mg of beetroot per day has been shown to produce immediate effects of lowering blood pressure by around 15 mm of Hg. Beetroot is also rich in vitamins, phytochemicals and contains large amounts of iron and folic acid Mg, Na and Ca. Apart from the nitrates the major bioactive molecules in beet are polyphenols, flavonoids, betalains, therapeutic enzymes, ascorbic acid, and dehydroascorbic acid (DHAA). So they not only provide the ingredients for NO production but also help in repair and protection of the endothelium.

Almonds have one of the highest sources of L-Arginine (most nuts have lots of L-Arginine so you can substitute the almonds if you want) which stimulates NO synthesis. Studies of almonds have shown reductions of 5-6 mm of blood pressure. It is important to soak the almonds as they (all nuts and seeds) have enzyme-inhibiting factors in them which stop them from germinating until they have enough water. These enzyme inhibitors also stop the absorption of some nutrients, particularly minerals. When you soak the nuts many of the nutrients also become more available for digestion.

Flaxseed is rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, L Arginine (about 20% less than almonds), lignans, antioxidants and fiber that together probably provide benefits to patients with cardiovascular disease. Studies on consuming 30g of flaxseed have been shown to reduce blood pressure by up to 15 mm Hg.

The great thing about this smoothie is that you can add just about anything else you want to it and it will make it even tastier and better for you.
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