Many people struggle with high blood pressure – almost 30 percent of Americans have high blood pressure, and medications to manage it are some of the most commonly prescribed medications in the world (1).
But while some use prescriptions to manage their blood pressure, others stick to a combination of diet and exercise. Among these people, there’s one food group that many swear will raise your blood pressure if you consume it in abundance – and that food group is grains.
The Negative Effects Of Gluten
One health professional – a respected doctor in his field, although his theories about nutrition are controversial – Dr. David Perlmutter believes that grains, and specifically gluten, are the source of many modern maladies, from depression to dementia to ADHD… even high blood pressure.
“It may seem draconian,” he told The Atlantic in a recent interview, “but the best recommendation I can make is to completely avoid grains. Most grain foods, whether we’re talking about quinoa, amaranth, the very popular grains of the day, the reality is they still are associated with a carbohydrate surge. They have a fairly high glycemic index, meaning that after 90 to 120 minutes, your blood sugar is going to go up, and that is detrimental to your brain.”(2)
Perlmutter, whose Florida practice is endorsed by celebrities like Oprah, recommends a diet which has been gaining popularity recently – the paleo diet. The paleo diet is high in fat and protein, and low in carbohydrates, most of which come from fruit and vegetables.
A Controversial Idea
It’s true that wheat and grains have a significant role to play in inflammation in the body.
One study explains that,
“wheat, but also other cereal grains, can contribute to the manifestation of chronic inflammation and autoimmune diseases by increasing intestinal permeability and initiating a pro-inflammatory immune response.”(3)
However, some doctors and researchers caution against the notion that grains themselves cause high blood pressure and various neurological disorders. While low-carb and gluten-free diets are used – successfully – to treat a number of ills, as any scientist will tell you, correlation does not necessarily equal causation.
Drastic Changes For Faster Results
If you’re overweight or consume a lot of wheat-based products especially the processed kind, then giving up grains might not be such a bad idea.
You don’t have to give it up forever. But just as you didn’t develop high blood pressure overnight, you will need to make some drastic changes if you want fast results.
Clinical trials have shown that a diet low in carbs and sugar-sweetened products can effectively lower blood pressure in individuals with prehypertension and stage 1 hypertension (4).
A simple way to go about it is to remove grains progressively.
DASH Diet – Another Approach
For patients with high blood pressure, the DASH – short for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension – diet is recommended by some professionals. This diet differs from the paleo diet in that it is relatively low in fat, whereas the paleo diet focuses on deriving much nutrients from sources of “good fat” like avocados and fatty fish.
Whether you choose to try the DASH diet or the paleo diet, what is clear is that managing high blood pressure through diet is doable for many individuals. The key here is to manage how many grams of carbs you eat per day. And if you add exercise to the mix, you’ll get even better results!