Intermittent Fasting and Blood Pressure

intermittent fasting and blood pressure

Intermittent Fasting and Blood Pressure: The truth that you should know

It is no longer news that intermittent fasting comes with several health benefits. From weight loss, reduction of sugar level to a better heart condition, intermittent fasting practitioners experience better wellbeing. Hence, it is not surprising that more individuals are getting to practice the proven and effective method of living a healthier lifestyle.

Among the benefits of intermittent fasting, its effect on blood pressure tends to stand out in many related discussions. So, how exactly does fasting influence blood pressure? It’s important to understand blood pressure and heart health before we can truly understand the effect of intermittent fasting on blood pressure and how it may influence your overall wellness. To get clarity, here is an extensive article on blood pressure, heart health, and intermittent fasting. Enjoy reading!

Introducing blood pressure

A force of blood that runs through the arteries is simply referred to as blood pressure. Within the blood are nutrients and oxygen, which the arteries transport to the cells. Also, this flow helps remove waste from the body. Once the force of blood running through the arteries is consistently high, this is known as high blood pressure or hypertension. This causes the heart to work beyond normal to pump the blood to other parts of the body.

High blood pressure condition is quite common, especially in the US. In fact, about 110 million people have been reported to deal with the condition, which is estimated to be 42% of American adults. The American Heart Association notes that high blood pressure is at play once a diagnosis shows a consistent reading of 130/80 and beyond. For clarity, a normal and healthy blood pressure stands around 120/80. 

Sadly, affected individuals may not notice any symptoms for years. When this happens, it raises the chances of developing heart attack and stroke. If you would like to know the state of your blood pressure, endeavor to speak with medical personnel. A routine screening test will be conducted upon fixing an appointment.

Intermittent Fasting & Blood Pressure

“Fasting can assist in reducing blood pressure, control diabetes, reduce weight and lowers cholesterol level” – these are words of John Rodman, a medical expert from The Cincinnati Clinic. All the stated conditions are possible risks associated with heart disease. He noted that by fasting, everyone stands a chance of reducing heart disease as it helps manage the stated health conditions.

However, Rodman adds that fasting must also be moderated. This is because depriving ourselves of food can result in electrolyte imbalance. This raises the risk of heart arrhythmias. Hence, it’s advisable to speak with medical personnel before you commence an intermittent fasting schedule.

There are some pieces of enlightening research that support how fasting helps reduce blood pressure. For instance, a study involving 2821 people who engaged in fasting for 5 to 20 days experienced decreased blood pressure. The hypothesis set by the researchers is that fasting raises the parasympathetic activity, otherwise referred to as the “rest and digest” state. This helps reduce blood pressure. Nevertheless, the participants only had. About 25 to 300 calories daily, which is barely enough to sustain a grown adult. While the study showed promising results, it’s not ideal for the general population.

A different study involving 63 adults showed that people who fast on alternate days also experienced decreased blood pressure in contrast to people who didn’t fast. This set of participants had 500 to 750 calories during their fasting period, including whatever they desired to eat on other days. Additionally, another study that involved 45 adults on a 16:8 intermittent fasting plan revealed a similar result. This was published by Nutrition and Aging. Several other pieces of research have also thrown weight behind the notion that reduced blood pressure can be associated with fasting.

Other benefits of intermittent fasting for the cardiovascular system

Aside from the fact that fasting can assist in maintaining healthy blood pressure, some promising early studies also showed that it helps overall health. For instance, a review of 14 studies disclosed that an intermittent fasting schedule helps lose weight in healthy individuals with little to no effect on the mood. 

Furthermore, it is revealed to play a role in lowering LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol). LDL cholesterol can raise the chances of atherosclerosis and heart disease if care is not taken. Lastly, intermittent fasting is known to help boost insulin sensitivity, which comes in handy for lowering the risk for Type 2 diabetes. A combination of these positive impacts on health influences the heart state positively.

circulatory system and fasting

Why should you follow intermittent fasting protocol?

Note that some people are exempted from fasting. Speak with your medical doctor if you fall into any of the categories below:

  1. A pregnant or breastfeeding woman.
  2. An individual with a history of low blood pressure.
  3. An individual with a history of an eating disorder.
  4. A teenager below the age of 18.
  5. An adult above 65 years.
  6. On medications

Fasting for better blood pressure: Key things to know

· Meal planning

First off, know that fasting may change your eating habit, and consequently, you may start eating less. Hence, eat healthily and enough quantity to sustain yourself. This is the reason behind planning ahead to make the process easier.

· Consume heart-healthy foods

From avocado, walnuts, olive oil to salmon, there are several healthy fats that you can consume. This helps reduce the chances of developing heart disease. Advisably, you can add one or two heart-healthy ingredients to your daily meal.

Also, consider fiber-rich foods. It’s reported that consuming 30g or more fiber daily reduces heart disease risk, certain cancers, and diabetes. Endeavor to optimize your nutritional food, especially during the food period, by going for more whole grains. Some recommendable options include lentils, oatmeal, quinoa, chickpeas, kidney beans, seed, fruits, vegetables, and nuts.

·  Take in more minerals

Here is another important tip to remember. Minerals such as calcium, potassium, and magnesium, help reduce blood pressure. This is possible because magnesium and potassium are known to relax the blood vessels. Consequently, they assist in reducing blood pressure too. 

Additionally, for those who are concerned about heart arrhythmias, consuming a sufficient amount of potassium assist with prevention. Also, calcium is useful for tightening and relaxing blood vessels as appropriate. 

For the record, you don’t need to purchase supplements to get a sufficient intake of minerals. In fact, many fibers and healthy fats that you can include in your meals will give you enough magnesium, potassium, and calcium. For instance, magnesium is available in pumpkin seeds, potatoes, legumes, whole grains, and cooked leafy green, while bananas, citrus fruits, apricots, sweet potatoes, beets, and prunes contain potassium. Consider taking Greek yogurt, cheese, canned salmon with bones, almonds, whole fat milk (or 2%), fortified milk alternatives, or white beans to get calcium.

·  Lower your salt intake

For those who are aware that salt contains sodium that helps the body maintain fluid balance and consequently take a considerable amount, you might want to slow things down. An excess intake of sodium makes your body hold onto more water and puts pressure on your arteries and heart. To avoid such an unpleasant situation, consider reducing your sodium intake. Keeping the salt minimal helps reduce blood pressure and associated risk with heart disease, especially death. 

At the same time, it’s not necessary to cut out all sodium. Some amount of salt is necessary to balance your fluid level. Consider reducing intake of ultra-processed and pre-packaged foods to help put your salt level intake at a moderate level effortlessly. Instead, go for whole homemade meals. It’s advisable to always check out the condiments and sauces at the nutrition facts table. If it is stated that one serving contains more than 16% of sodium, it’s too high for your body. Instead, go for products offering approximately 16% DV or less. 

Conclusion

Early and recent studies affirm that fasting can have a positive influence on blood pressure. However, it’s important to keep the tips and recommendations shared herein in mind. The most important thing is to speak with a medical expert or nutritionist before you commence the plan. With correct advice and planning, you can use intermittent fasting to reduce bad cholesterol, prevent diabetes and lower your weight. All these will help achieve commendable heart health.

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