Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Plan for Addressing High Blood Pressure

High Blood Pressure is called the silent killer because one can have a high blood pressure and lead a pretty normal life, it doesn't have great warning signs.  For this reason, everyone should have their blood pressure checked regularly.  Most grocery stores now offer a little station you can sit, relax and get it read.  Try to do it at the same time of day every time.  Don't do it after strenuous workout out or with caffeine in your system.

Blood pressure is the measure of systolic pressure and diastolic pressure.  Systolic is how much pressure it takes to pump the blood when the heart muscle contracts.  Diastolic is how much pressure is present when the heart is relaxed.  Generally speaking 120/80 is considered normal.  130/90 is prehypertensive and 140/100 or higher is Hypertensive.

Hypertension can lead to a lot of different issue so it's very important to get this addressed.  One is essentially asked the heart to work harder all the time.  This can lead to a heart attack.  You are pushing it harder through vessels, the vessels essentially are not as pliable.  This can lead to strokes or aneurisms.  Other organs are also at risk.  One that is commonly damaged with uncontrolled HBP is the kidneys.  The kidneys filter the blood through lots of small arteries that lead to the nephron.  These arteries can became narrow, harden and weaken.  This becomes a negative feedback loop and this will cause an increase in BP as well.

1. Start getting a few relaxing walks in per day.  Then shoot for a minimum of 20 minutes.  Heart rate should be elevated but you should be able to hold a conversation without losing breath.

1a.  Once walking has been established, start going slightly more brisk walk for a goal of 30 minutes. Stairs make an excellent choice for training the bigger leg muscles.  Biking is excellent low impact choice.  Weights can be beneficial, just don't hold the breath.  The ultimate goal is 150 min of exercise a week.  It takes 1-3 months to drop systolic pressure up to 10 points.  It only lasts for as long as exercise stays apart of your daily life.

2. Work your grip strength.  This has been shown to be a really cool exercise with proven results.  It was discovered by fighter pilots in the 60's.  Those that gripped the control the strongest pumped more blood to the brain and passed out less during high G forces.   Find a gripper that you can grip that you would consider medium in difficulty.  You want to be able to hold the grip in the closed position for 5 seconds. Relax for 10 seconds.  Get as many reps as you can for 2 minutes.  Repeat the other hand.  It has been shown to drop the diastolic by up to 15 points.  (quite large)  It seems to work because it makes the walls of the carotid artery and other blood vessels more pliable.

3.  Electrolyte balance.  I would recommend getting blood work done to see your potassium and sodium balance.  The standard advice of lowering sodium is not a given.  It is known now that it is the balance of sodium/potasium that is crucial to heart health.  Most sodium isn't from table salt added to food but is snuck in prepackaged foods.  Most potassium comes from fresh fruits and vegetables, so the advice of cut out food that comes in a box or package and eat more fruits and vegetable is good advice.

4.  Drink lots of water, hydrate like it's medicine.  Dehydration can raise high blood pressure.  Your body will hold onto sodium more.  If you find you are never thirsty for your bodyweight, perhaps upping your protein will be of value.  Shooting for a minimum of 1/2 your bodyweight in ounces.

5.  Maximize Nitric Oxide.   NO is a key signaling molecule throughout the body.  It is produced by the endothelial cells in the arteries and acts to relax the arterial walls.  It is produced when we exercise.  (Step 1)  It is only available for a few seconds after it is produced, so we are constantly making it.  Exercise/Food/Supplement for Nitric oxide production.

6.  Supplement.  Garlic and Other Nitric Oxide supplements.  Garlic has a strong backing as a viable option for reducing HBP up to 10%.  Not eating it raw but supplementing it.  You need the allicin in the garlic.  It seems to work by stimulating the production of NO.  Some companies are making specific NO supplements.  I'm currently testing out the APEX Nitric Oxide and will report on it in a few months.

7.  Add specific foods to your diet.  The amino acids L- arginine and L-citruline are crucial in the formation of Nitric Oxide.   Turkey and pumpkin seeds are two of the highest suggest sources of arginine.  Walnuts are an excellent source for arginine and has been studied on its own to lower blood pressure.  Watermelon, cucumber and other melons are great sources of citruline.   Beets are being studied a ton lately for its high level of nitrate.  Seems to be enough research to suggest adding them to the diet will be of benefit.   Beet, Watermelon, cucumber, walnut, honey (a little research for HBP) sounds like a nice NO shake to me!

7.  Be around animals.  Going to zoos or being around dogs, petting dogs.  It seems odd, but they have measured BP in zoos and it's lower.  Then have measured it petting dogs and it's lower.  We are meant to be around animals in my opinion.

8.  Volunteer.  People that volunteer tend to have a LBP then those that don't.  Feel good perhaps?  I'd bet volunteering at an animal shelter would be quite beneficial for BP.

9.  Become a Nasal Breather.  By breathing through the nose you are able to capture more Nitric Oxide with each breath from the sinus cavities.   Breathing through the mouth doesn't do this.  It takes dedicated practice and it can be used as almost a meditative practice.  Which coincidentally, also has been shown to lower blood pressure.  Taking a few minutes a few times a day and practice nasal breathing.  I think walking is a great place to do this.  It keeps the walk at an aerobic level and you get to practice only inhaling through the nose.

10. Drink less alcohol and don't smoke.  The uptake of one glass for women and 2 for men seem to raise the blood pressure slightly.  Smoking is just bad for everything related to health.  

All of these options will have individual results.  Not one by itself will probably bring you down into the normal range, but all of them combined and working them into your lifestyle will go a big way  into helping control them and perhaps need less medication or perhaps get off or not get on any.  Always have a way to monitor your blood pressure if you are on a medication and start to implement these lifestyle changes as it will hopefully require different dosages.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Random Spring Review Thoughts

A lot of thinking has been going on in this head of mind the last few months.  The old saying is if want to know what you think, write it out.

I'm excited to continue to learn more and more about reading and interpreting blood work.  From a personal curiosity for my own health questions to taking the Apex Mastering Functional Blood Chemistry and a bunch of books in between.  It's been an exciting chance to delve back into pure learning mode.  I've already started to work with a few patients on the lifestyle, food and supplementation strategies to start changing their health.

One of the most fun and aha moments I have is when two somewhat separate events/ideas cross over and you are able to see the connection.  I've been on a year long mission to understand the aspects of breathing and performance.  It started a few years ago in taking the PRI courses and realizing the importance of the diaphragm.  It escalated with Wim Hoff and continues with some more of the acute training affects with books like "The Oxygen Advantage," by Patrick McKeown.  Delving into the Buteyko breathing and hearing the CO2 and breath hold techniques from Kasper van der Meulen for increasing athletic ability.

From this information you learn how Co2 can have an effect on something called the Anion Gap.  Anion Gap is the difference in the measurement of cations Sodium/potassium (+) and the anions Chloride and bicarbonate (-) in your body.   Learning about the importance of the anion gap from the blood work perspective and having functional medicine say that brain injuries have a much harder time healing when the gap is 22 or larger.  For the healthy, you would want to be under 15.  With simple strategies to decrease this from breath holding and from nutrition/supplementation.

Young practitioners or students, start your day and finish your day with patients that you truly love working with.  It can change the whole outlook of your day or the next day, when you start and finish with someone that is truly fun to work with.  If you have ever been the first or last patient of mine...congrats...haha.

I was asked what are the biggest changes in my thought patterns for strength and conditioning I've had in the last few years.
1.  Aerobic training is highly beneficial when you are not an aerobic athlete and it has immediate effects on your health and isn't a downfall for pure strength.  Smart programming can keep your "gains."  Alex Viada from the Hybrid Athlete was the first to start to change my thinking.  I do recommend his eBook.  Biggest takeaway for me, I recover faster from training and from things like the common cold.
2.  Maximal strength isn't worth chasing at the expense of other strength choices.  I just don't see the payoff anymore in sports unless you are a powerlifter/oly lifter.  For track/field, field sports, health/performance I'm not seeing the carryover after a certain amount of strength.  Which leads to #3.
3.  Learning to integrate movements is more important.  Coordination. Isometrics.
4.  Hypertrophy as you age is important.  Don't knock machines or single joint activities.  Bodybuilding has a place.  My former self would have said they are useless.
5.  Abdominal work should have a direct place.  Deadlifts and squats are not enough.

I've been playing around with a few things in terms of nutrition and products the last 4-5 months.  I gave the nose pieces from Turbine a very fair go.  My wife said the sleep ones didn't help my snoring.  Fail on that.  The yellow performance ones,  I didn't notice an improvement in performance with a stated 38% increase in air flow.  Anyone that has been on a bike understands the term snot rocket.  With these in, it's impossible to do.  So you lose the 10 dollars nose piece.  Not worth it for me.

This has been my preride/ride/post ride combo.

I really enjoy the Organo Gold mushroom coffee before I ride.  It gets a bad rap for being MLM, but I  like it before riding and definitely with traveling.   UCAN is just legit.  Developed for people that have diabetes,  this is an outstanding product that has trickled down into the endurance world.  It's built for sustained energy and stable blood glucose levels.  I haven't bonked, just sustained energy.  No stomach issues.  The craziest thing post ride is normally I'd finish a big ride and have the appetite to crush a whole pizza, now I finish and I'm not famished.  Caloric intake after a big exertion is just normal.  

The hard thing about business is knowing when to spend money and when to just wait and figuring out which leads to growth and what and when to invest in the business.  They don't teach that in school.  Sometimes decisions are just as weird as I need two more parking spots.  Not something your thinking about studying for board exams.  

Health>Time>Money:  This has been an ongoing debate for sometime on Facebook with a friend of mine.  Which 3 do you value most.  The thinking is that if you had money you could have all the time in the world, but this just states you value time the most.  If you value time more then health, well you could be to sick to actually enjoy it.  If your sick you could be forced out of work, money.  Time is meaningless.  If your healthy, you have the ability to still enjoy everything.  So take the time and money and invest in your health.  By default you create time and money.  

Had my first DNA tests done.  Was pleasantly surprised how accurate it really seemed to be.  I was pretty much 70% fast twitch 30% slow twitch and advised me into sports like American football and weight lifting.  I'm glad I figured that out when I was like 10. haha.

Some more of the interesting was the lack of folic acid and poor absorption of B vitamins.  The B vitamins I had figured out in the last few months from blood work.  An interesting aside was that I lack a certain variant that helps you process alcohol.  (Bummer as I like craft beer and live in Beer City USA.)

I started to read stuff that has nothing to do with health, training or business again.  It always surprises me why I get out of that habit as I enjoy it so much.  It makes you wonder what else you forget to do for enjoyment simply because it doesn't fit into your work or practical column.