By Tamzyn Murphy, RD, MSc Physiol (Dist.)
May 17th, is World Hypertension Day. This day is celebrated annually to bring awareness to the harmful effects of hypertension (aka. high blood pressure) on human health. Hypertension’s potential dangers have never hit closer to home than they do now, amidst the Covid-19 crisis.
Hypertension affects more than 1.13 billion people (1) and is a major cause of a range of health problems – mainly cardiovascular, like strokes and heart attacks – but can also contribute to kidney disease, dementia and premature death (1). To make matters worse, in the times of the current pandemic, having hypertension can increase your risk of dying from COVD-19 by over 5 % (2). If that hypertension goes hand-in-hand with cardiovascular disease, as it often does, your risk increases by a further almost 10%. In other words you’d go from having a 1 in 100 chance of dying from Covid-19 if you were healthy, to a 1 in 20 chance of dying if you have hypertension alone. That chance increases to 1 in 7 if you add cardiovascular disease to the mix. (2)
The good news is that you can improve your blood pressure and cardiovascular disease risk quickly and effectively by way of simple dietary and lifestyle changes. It’s been known for decades that reducing insulin levels in hypertensive diabetics, using a ketogenic diet, can rapidly and dramatically reduce blood pressure – an effect that can be seen within a week (3; 4). Carbohydrate restricted diets have been shown to reduce blood pressure at least as well as more traditional lower fat diets in hypertensive non-diabetics as well (5). While this blood pressure reduction could be an effect of associated weight loss, all the better! We know that obesity also increases your risk of dying from Covid-19 (6). So, if you could reduce blood pressure and body fat at the same time, perhaps you could compound your chances of pulling through.
Here are the basics of the carbohydrate-restricted or ketogenic diets that have been shown to reduce insulin, blood pressure and body weight:
- Avoid added sugar
- Avoid grains and starches
- Choose real, whole, and unprocessed foods – the less packaging and processing the better
- Eat a variety of animal-based real foods and brightly coloured vegetables
Now’s the time to take control of your health using real, whole food, to quickly and effectively improve your chances against Covid-19.