“It’s bizarre that the produce manager is more important to my children’s health than the pediatrician.” – Meryl Streep
According to the CDC, ONE THIRD of all Americans are afflicted with hypertension which can easily go on to cardiovascular disease and vascular dementia. If 100 million Americans wish to lose their hearts or their minds, all they need to do is continue relying on the dietary habits most Americans are unable to pull themselves away from. According to the CDC, the number of Americans afflicted with hypertension continues to increase as we age, so the thinking often is that high blood pressure is a “normal” occurrence due to aging. An average of 36% of Americans between the ages of 45 to 54 is afflicted with hypertension. Hypertension increases to 53.5% for Americans aged 55 to 64 years, then increases again to 66.5% for Americans aged 65 to 74 year old and finally to 72.5% for those 75 years old and older. Using this data, it really does appear to be age related, doesn’t it? Not so fast! The “logical” conclusion is that hypertension IS age related – until we look at other cultures around the world where longevity is the longest WITHOUT their people distressed by hypertension due to their dietary and Lifestyle habits. The more we learn about what causes hypertension, the more we learn that this dangerous condition is easily swayed by the types of foods we place into our body.
There are five recognized areas around the globe where people live the longest due to the dietary & Lifestyles habits they choose to live their lives. These five areas are known as the Blue Zones and have been thoroughly investigated by Dan Buettner, a researcher for the National Geographic Society. One of the most outstanding observances of these five cultures is that their Lifestyle habits dictate their good health. Three of these societies are located on small islands, one is located on a peninsula and the fifth is right here as a tight-knit, spiritual oasis within the U.S. that follow very specific dietary & Lifestyle rules for good health resulting in lower blood pressure and less cardiovascular disease for all those involved.
The five cultures where centenarians are most commonly found are Okinawa, Japan (an island culture), Sardinia, Italy (an island culture), Loma Linda, California (an American spiritual oasis), Nicoya, Costa Rica (a peninsula culture), and Ikaria, Greece (another remote island culture). Within these Blue Zone societies you find many individuals living into their 90’s and beyond who are able to remain fully active while remaining medication free and free of hypertension until the very end of their lives. All of these societies offer extensive evidence that Lifestyle habits are the key to exceptional longevity.
Except for Lima Loma, these societies are not immerged in modern technology nor do they go to gyms to work out or have a special set of genetic traits. The reasons these cultures have the longest living, healthiest peoples on the entire planet is that their lives are aligned with Nature by being physically active with the outdoors on a daily basis, maintaining a positive attitude with close family ties to one another, while eating REAL, unprocessed, non-GMO, Organic foods that are often grown in their own gardens. The foods they eat on a daily basis are full of Nature’s natural ingredients – vitamins, minerals, phytochemical, fiber, and enzymes which all work together to prevent hypertension, minimizing the incidence of cardiovascular disease, dementia and cancer. These cultures have been able to maintain their good health because they have been relatively isolated from cultures dominated with processed foods and fast-foods that are destroying their health. Most of these societies still lack the fast-foods and groceries dominated with processed foods as we have here in the U.S., while lacking the “advances” industrialized societies can no longer live without. But now the isolation of these cultures is threatened by increased recognition and globalization of the people. This is causing their environment to gradually change, meaning they are slowly becoming more influenced and Americanized which is beginning to have an effect on their health and longevity – all for the worse.
The Food & Drug Administration keeps a list of over 3000 food additives used in processed foods, but the list of just how many man-made chemical additives there are may go as high as 14,000 laboratory-made additives to get these foods to have a longer shelf life, a more desirable taste, and a better appearance so we will want to buy them. Whether it is 3,000 or 14,000 additives, these are laboratory-made additives that have nothing to do with promoting good health, but everything to do so you will not want to stop eating them once you begin. The more you eat, the larger their profits and that is exactly what it’s all about – profits at any cost, whether it’s our health or our life that is a stake.
Even if we were to avoid eating fast-foods (a real fantasy), the average American spends 90% of her budget on processed foods because they are easy to prepare, cheaper to purchase, and do not spoil quickly as real foods will do. Also due to the proliferation of fast-foods and processed foods, family cooking skills are collapsing with fewer and fewer people knowing how to prepare meals from scratch – especially when you can easily order a take-out pizza delivery or you can just pop over to McDonalds for whatever we have trained our taste buds to accept. So how does all of this lead to the proliferation of hypertension? Let us look at just three ingredients frequently found in the foods most Americans now eat.
One of the silent ingredients found in processed foods is phosphate. Different forms of phosphates are found in processed cheeses, cola, baking powder, and generally are ubiquitous in these foods under a variety of names that makes it less noticeable. Phosphate can be listed as sodium phosphate, calcium phosphate, phosphoric acid to name only a few, and is listed under 45 different phosphate derivative food additives extensively used in the world of processed foods as preservatives and pH stabilizers.
Researchers have now discovered that high intakes of phosphate cause a buildup of a hormone called FGF23. What is important about FGF23 is that it controls the reabsorption of sodium that is filtered through the kidneys creating a sodium conservation effect. It has been discovered that mice lacking FGF23 are able to eliminate higher amounts of sodium in their urine, reducing blood pressure, but animals that have high levels of FGF23, retain high levels of sodium in their blood, causing high blood pressure to develop. High levels of the FGF23 hormone causes an additional strain on the heart through its sodium conservation effect brought on by high levels of phosphate additives found in processed foods.
FGF23 Regulates Renal Sodium Handling and Blood Pressure. EMBO Molecular Medicine, May 2014
But FGF23 regulates our health in another way as well. Another study has found that FGF23 controls levels of calcium in the blood. Like sodium, when FGF23 levels are high, calcium is reabsorbed back into the body when filtered by the kidneys. Too much FGF23 leads to vascular calcification of the blood vessels responsible for atherosclerotic plaque formations, leading to hypertension and cardiovascular disease. Again, when too much phosphate is consumed from processed foods, phosphate and FGF23 levels increase, leading to sodium and calcium retention the body is unable to handle in a safe manner. This is a dangerous spiral brought on by additives found in processed foods that until very recently, no one was aware.
FGF23 promotes renal calcium reabsorption through the TRPV5 channel. The EMBO Journal, 2014
Olena Andrukhova, leading author of the two above studies, states, “The focus in science is increasingly shifting from αKlotho [a protein] to FGF23. The level of FGF23 in kidney patients can even indicate their life expectancy. The inhibition of FGF23 or its pathway could be a possibility to bring cardiovascular disease and vascular calcification under control.”
In a 2012 German study, its abstract stated, “Recently, a high-normal serum phosphate concentration has also been found to be an independent predictor of cardiovascular events and mortality in the general population. Therefore, phosphate additives in food are a matter of concern, and their potential impact on health may well have been underappreciated.”
In the 2012 study conclusions, the authors wrote, “In view of the high prevalence of CKD [Chronic Kidney Disease] and the potential harm caused by phosphate additives to food, the public should be informed that added phosphate is damaging to health. Furthermore, calls for labeling the content of added phosphate in food are appropriate.”
Phosphate Additives in Food – a Health Risk, Dtsch Arztebi Int. January, 2012
Additional contaminants involve not one, but two toxins that are not an “additive” per say, but are found in many processed foods as well as many other man-made industrial sources. The first and most ubiquitous is BPA or Bisphenol A, a synthetic estrogen that behaves as a hormone disrupter and has been discovered in the plastic lining found in nearly all canned goods. BPA is also found in many plastic bottles and in the ink of thermal papers on the receipts you receive when shopping at the store. As research continues, a growing body of research finds BPA binding to estrogen receptors within the body, with chronic exposure to BPA linking it to hypertension, autism, obesity, diabetes, and hormone-related cancers.
Even though data has been mounting about the toxic effects of BPA, the FDA continues to allow its use even though they have banned its use with baby bottles and Sippy cups, as well as infant formulas. Obviously that is a great move on the FDA’s part, but I must ask, why are we only taking baby steps to protect our babies and not our children as well as ourselves? Canada has also declared BPA a toxic substance and in 2010 banned it, like the U.S., for use in any children’s products.
An associate professor with Harvard Medical School and a BPA expert, Dr. Karin B. Michels comments on the findings of a 2014 BPA study saying, “I think this is a very interesting and important study that adds to the concern about Bisphenol A. It raises a lot of questions. We have such a high rate of hypertension in this country, which has risen, and we haven’t really thought of Bisphenol A and its use in cans as one of the causes of that. ”
Dr. Michels goes on, “A new study shows that a common chemical in the containers can seep into beverages and raise blood pressure within a few hours. The study found that when people drank soy milk from a can, the levels of BPA in their urine rose dramatically within two hours – and so did their blood pressure. But on days when they drank the same beverage from glass bottles, which don’t use BPA linings, there was no significant change in their BPA levels or blood pressure.”
The study found within two hours of drinking the soy milk from a can, their levels of BPA rose about 16 TIMES HIGHER, while the subjects that drank from glass bottles continued to have low urinary levels of BPA. As BPA levels rise, so does systolic blood pressure, creating yet another dietary source of potential hypertension from a toxic chemical that does NOT belong in the body for any reason whatsoever.
Dr. Yun-Chul Hong, one author of the study and the director of the Institute of Environmental Medicine at Seoul National University said, “Clinicians and patients—particularly hypertension or cardiovascular disease patients—should be aware of the potential clinical problems for blood pressure elevation when consuming canned food and beverages.”
Exposure to Bisphenol A from Drinking Canned Beverage Increases Blood Pressure, Hypertension, December 8, 2014.
In the U.S. there has been growing concerns about the health effects of BPA, so some manufacturers have developed “BPA free” bottles and containers to avoid any negative associations from BPA. But the new products contain yet another chemical that is very similar to BPA, called Bisphenol S or BPS. Yet another study found that “BPA free” plastic products continue to leach chemicals as endocrine disruptors with some of these new chemicals being more potent than the BPA they were made to replace!
Dr. Michels not only avoids eating or drinking canned foods or liquids from plastic bottles because of the BPA, she also avoids containers saying “BPA free.” “It doesn’t have Bisphenol A, but on the other hand I worry that the new chemical they put in there may also be a problem. Exchanging one chemical for another doesn’t make me feel comfortable.” The message here is stop contaminating our foods with man-made chemicals that have potentially serious consequences to our health. On the other hand, REAL, unprocessed foods bought in the produce and frozen areas of our grocery stores are free of all of these 3,000 to 14,000 chemical additives, but we do have to COOK these foods before sitting down to enjoy our meals.
One further additive that must be addressed with regard to hypertension is all the salt or sodium that is added to the vast majority of processed foods, but there is difference between the two terms. Salt is approximately 40% sodium, and sodium is another substance that causes blood pressure to rise. Sodium is also present in other food additives such as monosodium glutamate or MSG, so when sodium is listed on the Nutrition Facts label of the processed food, it often does not include all the sodium found in the processed food. Americans, by far, get more than 75% of their sodium from, you guessed it, processed foods and fast-foods – not from the salt shaker. But the human body does NOT NEED all that sodium as our craving for foods high in sodium is strictly a modern, cultural aberration brought upon us by the processed food industry.
The American Heart Association states on their website, “Most sodium in the diet comes from packaged, processed foods. Eating these foods less often can reduce your intake of sodium and can help lower your blood pressure or prevent HBP from developing in the first place,” and recommends consuming less than 1500 mg of sodium per day – much less than the 4,000 mg. consumed in the SAD. Their reasoning is that excess sodium increases blood pressure leading to heart disease and stroke. But Americans continue to “THRIVE” on processed foods and fast-foods, the very man-made created foods that are killing them. All this excess sodium works on your kidneys causing them to retain water. The extra water that is stored causes blood pressure to rise, placing an extra strain on the kidneys, arteries, heart as well as your brain. Again, all from man-made processed foods and fast-foods. Have you ever looked at the enormous amounts of sodium found in these foods? Stop eating these foods and you will ELIMINATE all the extra phosphates, all the extra sodium, and ALL the BPA and BPS working to destroy your health.
But this awareness to improve your health through dietary habits is not just about the three offenders just discussed, but about the 3,000 to 14,000 man-made chemical additives that simply do not belong in your body. Together these additives work against your health – they do nothing to improve it. The sooner you understand this and DO something about it, the healthier you and your family will be. Here is a VERY, VERY short list of some common additives found in these processed foods – not found in REAL foods.
Artificial Food Dyes
Artificial Sweeteners, i.e. Aspartame
High Fructose Corn Syrup
Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oils (Trans fat)
Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA)
Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)
The best way to get away from toxins is to completely eliminate them from your dietary habits, and the best way to eliminate them is to remove 95% of the processed foods from your dietary habits, while replacing them with Nature’s REAL foods. Our bodies are living, breathing, biological organisms designed by Nature, made to run on Nature’s energy – REAL food. It should be no surprise that our bodies suffer when stuffed with even minute amounts of man-made chemicals that do not belong within us. Put half a cup of sugar into your $50,000 new car’s gas tank, and see what happens. Your body is the same; many milligrams or teaspoons or half cups of these ingredients thrown into your body, causes your health to CRUMBLE. Yet, the people of the Blue Zones are able to protect their health as they should. When we are able to apply their customs to our own dietary and Lifestyle behaviors, we too, will see dramatic vanishings on the epidemic levels of hypertension, diabetes and heart disease that we bring upon ourselves. It’s that simple.
In another 2104 study, researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital defined healthy aging as reaching age 70 or older while being free of major, chronic diseases and being in good mental and physical health. The 5 year, 14,000 participants study on women found that a diet composed of MORE FLAVONOIDS – more phytochemicals only found in PLANT FOODS, was THE strongest link to achieving healthy aging. Participants with the highest 20% intake of flavonoids from REAL plant foods were those most likely to experience healthy aging over those with the least amount of flavonoids.
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, December, 2014
The Mediterranean diet is now being recommended as an anti-aging, highly desirable way to eat because it too is composed of REAL foods. Dr. Connie Bales with the department of Duke medicine and Dr. Kathryn Porter Starr with the Duke VA Medical Center endorse the Mediterranean diet because “The positive findings about the interaction of the Mediterranean diet pattern with aging is very much in line with the other known health benefits of this diet. Long-term consumption of a Mediterranean diet has been linked to reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, metabolic syndrome, dementia, and overall mortality. . . Finally, it is important to note that the health benefits provided by a Mediterranean diet pattern are also the result of reducing the consumption of some commonly consumed food categories, such as saturated and trans fats, refined sugars, and processed foods.”
Duke Medicine Health News, Doctor Perspectives on the Medical Headlines, March, 2015
Now THINK about what is taking place here and elsewhere throughout the world. In the United States, we have more than 100 million Americans afflicted by hypertension, threatening heart disease and vascular dementia despite being one the most technologically advanced nations as well as having the best, well-equipped medical resources in the world. Yet found in societies around the world live people that are FREE of hypertension because they CHOOSE to live their lives the way life should be lived – low in stress, rich in family and social relationships, and protected by REAL foods. Is this really a choice for those that wish to see their children grow up safe and healthy?