Health: Cut sugar to reduce blood pressure

The higher the number given to any food, the higher its glucose level We know that a high salt intake contributes to high blood pressure but according to a new study, sugar is just as guilty
REMEMBER when you  were told to cut the salt to reduce the high blood pressure? Well, now you’ll need to take another piece of advice from a hot new study that has found its way into the Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the world’s leading medical journals. Cut the sugar as well. In fact, you can also cut refined carbohydrates like rice, bread and pasta.
According to this study, if you have high blood pressure (hypertension), a low carb diet is a better way to control it than drugs. In a study of 146 people who were hypertensive and overweight, nearly half were able to stop or decrease their blood pressure medication after going on a low-carbohydrate diet. Systolic blood pressure dropped dramatically, researchers discovered. By comparison, only 21 per cent of those who were taking the weight-loss drug orlistat reported a similar drop in blood pressure. Sugar High Did you know that in the United States the average American has increased his/her consumption of sugar from 12kg to more than 65kg a year in the last three decades? That’s an eye-opener to just how much of a problem it really is. No doubt an increase in the sugar content of foods we consider healthy may have contributed to this trend.
The Daily Mail recently reported that foods with traditionally healthy appeal now contain twice as much sugar compared to 30 years ago! As sugar is cheap, abundant and a great stimulator of the tongue, it is now added liberally to everything. Before 1887, cardiovascular disease was almost unheard of and, as a point of interest, an average person consumed only 2.2kg of sugar every year. Instead of a luxury, it has now become a necessity.
Now consider the Eskimos. They have a diet abundant in saturated fat but cardiovascular disease was unheard of until they were introduced to a western diet of coke and sugar. This increase in sugar and high blood pressure is surely linked and is not due to their fat consumption. That is something for us to consider when we are being told to cut down on our saturated fats.
Have you heard of the glycemic index? It is an index of foods and how they affect blood-glucose levels. The higher the number given to any food, the higher its glucose levels. This increase in glucose stimulates the pancreas to secrete more insulin to lower blood-sugar levels. When insulin is increased it will cause the storing of more fat, so you will see a quick rise in weight and an increased triglyceride level, both known to help cause cardiovascular disease.
The chart lists examples of foods from the glycermic index that have a high count and a lower count, which will alert you to avoid these foods if possible.
As you probably know, people suffering from diabetes are usually suffering from high blood pressure also. See my page about diabetes and high blood pressure. If you go to the Glycemic Index you can find out which foods are low in glucose.
The problem your body has in dealing with excess sugar will eventually result in the cells becoming insulin resistant because too much insulin is toxic. If that happens, it leads to other systems in the body malfunctioning.
Insulin helps store magnesium which is needed to relax muscles. When your cells become insulin resistant, the magnesium can’t be stored, muscles constrict, high blood pressure results. Insulin also has a part to play in sodium and water retention so when too much is in the blood it leads to high blood pressure.
Another reason linking sugar and high blood pressure is how your body absorbs carbohydrates (sugars). Complex carbohydrates are absorbed more slowly than refined carbohydrates so the blood-sugar levels do not rise quickly. Refined carbohydrates, however, need minerals and vitamins to metabolise them into the system and will leach them from your bones and other organs where vital micro-nutrients are stored, leaving you mineral deficient. Minerals such as potassium are not stored and are vital in regulating blood pressure so if you are lacking, it must have an effect on your blood pressure. Eating refined sugars also starts a vicious cycle where fatty acid and cholesterol metabolism is obstructed, causing more trigycerides and cholesterol.
Another study, published recently in the online issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association, reported that added sugars could be a contributing factor in the development of cardiovascular disease. Sugars or sweeteners are added to food during manufacturing to increase palatability, yet they have no nutritional value. There’s been a 50 per cent jump in added sugar consumption in the past 30 years.
This study shows that reducing added sugar consumption equates to 23 per cent higher HDL-C levels (good cholesterol), eight to 10 per cent lower triglyceride levels and six per cent lower LDL-C levels (bad cholesterol).
If you have a sweet tooth, start training it to be satisfied with less sugar. The craving for sugar is not permanent and will diminish as you eat less. It is the answer to sugar and high blood pressure problems. If you do eat lots of sugar and sugary foods, eliminating it will perhaps be the end of your high blood pressure. Only your tongue wants the sugar. The rest of you does not need it. Reign your tongue in.

Published by the Malaysian based SSIG Portal, May 2010