Blood pressure is a measure of the force your heart uses to pump blood around your body.
A normal blood pressure level is less than 120/80 mmHG. Increased blood pressure, which means your top number is over 180 and your bottom number is over 120.
That can increase your risk of all sorts of problems like heart problems, kidney disease, vision problems and sexual dysfunction. Nearly half of all Americans (47% or 116 million) have it. Almost 1 in 5 people take medication for it.
Below is a list of foods and beverages to avoid if you have high blood pressure, along with a list of foods that help you lower and maintain your blood pressure at a healthy level.
HERE’S THE AVOID LIST
Salty snacks like pretzels and chips
Over-the-counter Decongestants (they narrow blood vessels and can increase blood pressure)
Tacos & Burritos
Red Meat (including pork, lamb, beef, veal, venison, goat)
Full Fat Dairy
Canned Soups (check labels for sodium)
Plant based meat alternatives
GOOD FOR BLOOD PRESSURE
ALSO GOOD FOR BLOOD PRESSURE
Again, do not consume more than 1 teaspoon of salt daily. Beware of hidden salt in foods or beverages.
Reduce your stress with meditation or other relaxing breathing techniques, stretch daily, try yoga, listen to soothing music
Sleep on your left side. Get at least 9 hours of sleep each night.
Drink lots of water.
Exercise reduces blood pressure 5-7 mm Hg
If obese, every 2.2 pounds lost lowers your blood pressure around 1mm Hg per 1 Kilogram
Look for salt-free or very low sodium on labels
If you do buy canned beans or vegetables rinse them completely under running water first
If you take blood pressure medication
Be sure to review what you eat and drink daily as well as how much you move. If you need more good for you foods or meal suggestions, check out the DASH diet link below, specifically tailored to lower blood pressure.
If you need added help with changing your behavior around food, Noom is a digital platform that can match you with a trained coach. It was developed using evidence-based approaches and scientifically-proven principles, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help you build sustainable habits that last. They help with stress, anxiety, hypertension and diabetes.
Taking blood pressure medication without making lifestyle changes will only increase your risk of additional problems.
Be sure to make the lifestyle changes first, and ask a loved one to help keep you accountable. Having one day a week as your cheat day –say if you love pizza or bacon –will help as most people, even athletes, subscribe to allowing themselves a day to indulge.
It’s only when indulging becomes a daily habit that your body will give you a Warning Light to make a change.
Most items on the Avoid list are highly addictive, which is why people have a hard time stopping, but it’s so worth it. You will feel better, have more energy and avoid longterm risks associated with high blood pressure.
It generally takes one month to notice the difference. If your doctor told you that you have high blood pressure, schedule a followup appointment in one month to track your progress.
Even though medication can lower it within a few days, it may not be the best long-term treatment due to side effects.
Always check with your physician before stopping any blood pressure medication, even if there’s been a recall.
I recently reviewed a new healthy Functional Beverage called NERD FOCUS.
At first, I was hesitant to do so, because I only ever drink water or tea, and avoid soda like the plague. I haven’t drank soda in over 15 years, and don’t crave it one bit. That said, every now and then, I would like something with a little flavor or kick to it without it being unhealthy.
I was one of the first people to tell the world about loving Alkaline Water when it was a blip on people’s radar. I wrote a blog called, “The Most Healthful Water in the World” in 2013, and since then the industry skyrocketed.
Annual revenue from 2013 to 2014 rose 701.43%.
Alkaline water is on track to be a multi-billion-dollar global business, and has surpassed soda in revenue. I became the spokesperson for the brand I adore, Carlsbad Alkaline Water, which to this day I recommend.
As of November 22, 2022, revenue for Alkaline Water is forecast to grow 20% p.a. on average during the next 3 years, compared to a 4.8% growth forecast for the Beverage industry in the United States.
NERD FOCUS falls under the Functional Beverage Market. Functional beverages are nonalcoholic drinks containing nontraditional ingredients like minerals, vitamins, amino acids, dietary fibers (DFs), probiotics, added raw fruits, etc.
It’s important to look at the exact amount they include, as some brands offer very little in terms of nutrition. Some are also highly carbonated and taste like the can itself. Electrolyte powders also fall into this category.
I have a favorite Electrolyte brand as well. It’s DripDrop. These are packets you add into water that come in various flavors, and prevent dehydration. They rehydrate you post exercise or if you spend a lot of time in high temperatures where you sweat a lot.
Dr. Eduardo Dolhun developed it to treat and prevent dehydration where IV therapy wasn’t available. It contains the precise sodium electrolyte levels, lower glucose content, and low osmolarity that facilitates fast absorption.
It received a U.S. Patent, and Dr. Dolhun was awarded the 2017 Mayo Clinic Alumni Association Humanitarian Award. If you get or feel dehydrated a lot, despite drinking a lot of water, you may want to add this to your water.
As of 2022, the global functional beverage market size was estimated at nearly $120 billion (USD) in 2021 and, according to researchandmarket.com, is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 10.49%, reaching $198.1 billion by 2026.
Back to my review of Nerd Focus:
NERD FOCUS has no carbs with some added B2, B3, B6 and B12 vitamins. The only caveat is 115 grams of sodium and 128 mg of caffeine.
Since I don’t drink coffee, the extra energy boost is okay and the added ingredients do help with mental focus, hence the name.
For reference, 1.5 cups of coffee contains 135 mg. of caffeine. It’s safe to stay within 400 mg.
Drinking two cans of Nerd Focus in a day would bring you to 256 mg. of caffeine –still safe and under the 400 mg. mark.
In terms of sodium, the healthy amount is less than 2300 grams daily, so this contains 115 grams, well under that, even if you drink two cans of it.
Tastes good refrigerated. I drank it after a workout as a treat, as it states it helps with exercise recovery. I did feel mentally sharper after sipping it. Of course, I feel that way after exercise, but the post-workout mental clarity also comes with less energy, as I wind-down.
It had a delightful amalgamation of providing calm mental focus plus energy without any anxiety.
It also lasts long, because I only took small sips of it.
I think sugary drinks make people chug it quickly, because of its addictive properties, as opposed to this.
If you’re a writer, blogger or student and need a pick me up, I’d go with the sugar-free version with the blue logo.
Interestingly enough, NERD FOCUS was originally created by University of Texas (UTSA) college student Vin Montes in order to help him focus and stay awake while studying late nights at the library. On July 21st, 2020, Nerd Focus was acquired by Beverage USA Holdings for an undisclosed amount.
There’s another version with a green logo that has sugar in it, which I don’t recommend.
The blue sugar-free version is a winner. I would get it again. I still recommend hydrating with water in the morning and daily, but it’s great to stock up on NERD FOCUS for those times mid-afternoon when you need a focus boost with 0 calories.
The other ingredient in it is an extract called Huperzine A, which is shown to improve memory and slow cognitive decline by increasing levels of acetylcholine the compound that functions as a neurotransmitter in the brain. It’s also been shown to help prevent cell death.
Twenty randomized clinical trials involving participants indicate it has a beneficial effect on memory, cognitive function and quality of life.
Since a lot of people complain about brain fog these days, this may help give the noggin’ a boost and you may remember where you put your keys.
Just to be safe, I asked Nutritionist, Virginia Candelaresi to take a look at it, and let me know her thoughts. She’s also my cousin, so there’s a trust factor, knowing she’s a straight shooter.
I asked her to review ALL the ingredients, and raise any red flags. Here’s her reply:
Are there any ingredient in NERD FOCUS we should be concerned about?
VIRGINIA: There are three ingredients that when in access can cause health concerns which are maltodextrin, acetate isobuturate, sucralose, and blue #1.
Maltodextrin is made from corn, potato, wheat, tapioca or rice. Yes, its made from natural sources but, maltodextrin is a highly processed powder and is very high in the glycemic index; therefore, avoid if you are diabetic as maltodextrin in knows as rapid glucose which can cause spikes in blood sugar which is most likely why energy drinks give you energy; in addition to caffeine. If you have digestive sensitivities, maltodextrin has a trace of sucrose can cause bloating and flatulence. I am all about gut health, so take cause with maltodextrin!
Acetate isobuturate is sucrose. You may be focused with this drink, but if you are also looking for energy it will do that as well, but with a sudden crash. This can cause irritability and fatigue. Too much sucrose throughout the day may cause weight gain, fluctuating blood sugar, heart disease, addicting eating behaviours.
Blue #1 – Artificial colouring in foods and drinks are not my favourite! Particularly blue dye as is remains unabsorbed. In large quantities acidosis may occur. I would avoid if you have any pH issues, gout, heartburn , etc.
If a physician recommends someone stops drinking soda (say they have Gout or Obesity) and they have a hard time refraining from it –is this a better option to help wean them off soda?
VIRGINIA: Best drink for gout or obesity is water! Both conditions can be helped with proper diet. Underlining cause of metabolism may be associated; however, water is best.
Anything else we should know?
VIRGINIA: My final thoughts on NERD, as a focus, learning, and memory drink, NERD has the right formula. I like that they add both guarana seed extract which is a naturally contains caffeine from its seed and is 4x more then caffeine from coffee beans.
Ginseng is great too! It builds energy and helps with stress. It is a stimulate so when combined with caffeine it allows focus and for some people that are sensitive heart palpitations and hypertension may occur. I recommend to use with caution.
As a side note, I am a fan of good quality Italian espresso. A ‘ristretto’ has 33mg of caffeine in 20ml comparing to regular 1 cup of java has 95mg. NERD has 128mg caffeine so, if you are sensitive I do not recommend more then 1 per day.
Remember, you want to stay focused not caffeinated!
THANK YOU, VIRGINIA!
So, there you have it. Moderation is key; do not drink in large quantities; use with caution if you’re sensitive to any caffeine; avoid if you have diabetes, heartburn or Gout; and remember Acetate isobuturate and maltodextrin contain sucrose (sugar), so you still want to keep tabs on your total sugar intake.
Here’s a closer look at ingredients listed on the can:
For those who don’t have sensitivities to caffeine, have diabetes, heartburn or Gout –enjoy in moderation…one can when you need a mental pick-me-up.
Eggs contain tryptophan; an amino acid that acts as a natural sedative. They also encourage the production of insulin, which helps neural pathways get tryptophan to the brain. At only 78 calories each, it’s okay to eat two hard-boiled eggs at night, which will help induce sleep –and won’t affect weight.
Cherries have high amounts of melatonin, studies have shown they can help with increased sleep time and overall sleep efficiency. You’ll also find vitamin A, vitamin C and magnesium in them.
Pistachios are members of the cashew family and contain B6 and Magnesium which are good for sleep. A 1-ounce portion eaten about an hour before bedtime is recommended for a good night of sleep.
Popcorn is a whole grain packed with fiber and carbs. Carbohydrates make tryptophan, an amino acid important for sleep, more available to the brain. It also helps provide longer sleep duration. Unsalted, unsweetened, air-popped, is the most healthful type of popcorn or ones with sea salt if plain is too bland. I like chemical-free SkinnyPop with Sea Salt.
A small handful of nuts will satisfy cravings and hunger while inducing sleepiness, because walnuts and almonds offer natural melatonin, protein, and magnesium. Magnesium, for one, may help reduce insomnia in older adults, according to past research.
Pumpkin Seeds are a natural source of tryptophan, an amino acid that can help promote sleep. Consuming around 1 gram of tryptophan daily is thought to improve sleep. That’s approximately 34 seeds. Look for unsalted ones.
Blueberries are rich in magnesium, a mineral that helps the body and brain relax and regulate melatonin. It’s also naturally high in tryptophan. They are also loaded with antioxidants that protect us from stress caused by sleep disorders and help support brain health and memory.
Getting enough sleep has major HEALTH benefits in morning and long-term benefits when you maintain healthy sleep habits.
At least 9-hours of sleep each night will bring:
No brain fog
Lowered risk for diabetes and heart disease
Staying at healthy weight
Energy to exercise
More energy for everything
Better relationships due to all of the above
If you’re ever not feeling well, be sure to check your sleep habits, foods & beverages you consume first.
Below is the problem with that advice. Let’s start with MILK:
I hate to sound like Spanky in The Little Rascals saying, “Don’t drink the milk!” “Why?” “It’s spoiled!” but be aware:
Milk and other dairy products are the top source of saturated fat in the American diet, contributing to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease. Studies have also linked dairy to an increased risk of breast, ovarian, and prostate cancers.
Interesting they used to deliver milk right to our homes in bottles. Pre-Amazon days, there was The Milk Man.
Most packaged breakfast cereals are ultra-processed. EWG recommends limiting consumption of these foods, whether organic or conventional. A diet high in ultra-processed food is linked to an increased risk of depression, obesity, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer. Jan 3, 2022
Yogurt: Not As Healthy As We Thought?Condé NastDietitians weigh in on a new study.
Eating too much red meat could be bad for your health. Sizzling steaks and juicy burgers are staples in many people’s diets. But research has shown that regularly eating red meat and processed meat can raise the risk of type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke and certain cancers, especially colorectal cancer.Dec 2, 2020
Is Eating Too Much Red Meat Bad for You? Eating too much red meat can raise your health risks. Try moderation.
It’s also possible to develop mercury poisoning from eating too much seafood, even if the varieties have lower levels of mercury. The FDA states that in small amounts, certain types of fish with lower mercury levels may be okay for adults to eat once or twice per week.
Understanding Mercury PoisoningHere’s what you need to know about mercury poisoning, including the basics about mercury poisoning from eating f…
LIVER AND KIDNEY
Potential Risks of Organ Meat
While organ meats are highly nutritious foods, they also contain a lot of cholesterol (especially the liver and heart). High cholesterol levels raise your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Therefore, it’s recommended that organ meats be eaten in moderation.=
Eat nutritious foods, but there’s nothing wrong with taking a daily vitamin or supplementing with B12 or any other vitamin you may be lacking.
I recommend everyone visits a General Practitioner to get blood work done, to determine if you’re deficient in anything, which may be causing unwanted symptoms, such as fatigue.
Then, review what foods contain those nutrients, and if you can benefit from adding a supplement.
Look up the Mediterranean diet, which is most common in Blue Zone areas, which are known for longevity. Here’s a link for Reference:
Breakfast: Egg whites and veggies in the morning are beneficial.
Lunch: Fill your plate with vegetables in the afternoon (making them in olive oil and garlic make them tasty)
Dinner: Grilled salmon (limit per week), chicken, black beans with a side of veggies are a healthy choice.
Snacks: Great choices are blueberries, cherries, almonds, walnuts or pumpkin seeds.
Beverages: Stay hydrated with water and avoid soda or sweetened beverages. If you need a pick-me-up, look into Functional Beverages without sugar or calories, but a bit of caffeine without the crash feeling you get after drinking coffee. A lot of people like to drink orange juice in the morning and fruit, but be aware there is sugar in that, so if you are diabetic or pre-diabetic (which a lot of people aren’t aware they are) you want to stay away from that as you may experience a crash after your blood sugar drops after consuming it.
Soon, I’ll review the best brands in Vitamin Supplements, since it’s a growing market, and you want to make sure they are high-quality and best-in-class.
I do like brands are making it easier to carry vitamins while traveling, so will take a look at those, as well as the best in personalized vitamins.
If you’re looking for supplements that are sugar-free, caffeine free, dairy free, soy free, non-GMO with no preservatives, color, flavors or sweeteners that are all natural Vegan you can check out vitamins from Amare.com (link below):