Fasting for High Blood Pressure

August 26, 2019

ReferencesFuhrmanUpton SinclairHarvard Health, American Heart Association BP Guidelines, Br J PharmacologyJ. Manipul Physiotherapy,

Almost 70% of Americans over 70 have high blood pressure. It's the first thing you measure when you go see a doctor. Modern medicine gives you pills to lower it. There is recent evidence that the benefit of lowering your blood pressure to 130 over 80 is worth the cost and side effects over accepting 140/90. The American Heart Association has followed with new guidelines aiming for 130/80. Hence, more pills. 

What is high blood pressure? It is being rethought of as endothelial dysfunction. That's a fancy term to say that the cells lining your blood vessels, the last line of defense between the outside world and the vulnerable, sensitive cell, is inflamed and annoyed. It puts out chemicals that makes it squeeze down. Pressure goes up. 
How long you live is very closely associated with how high your blood pressure is. 180/120 untreated and you live about 10 months. Insurance companies know this. They send a nurse to your home to measure your blood pressure three times because it's their money on the line. The lower your pressure, the longer you live. Period. Low blood pressure is good. Lower is better, provided it's not from shock or a pathological condition. (So the 25% of people with mold sensitivity and ADH osmolality mismatches have trouble hanging onto water and have lower pressure because of that - so that's a pathological condition that gets better when they are fixed.) 
What is happening when you fast? You are not taking in any food that your immune system has to deal with. You stop annoying your blood vessels. Your level of inflammatory cytokines drops. And your blood pressure drops. Really! 

How much? Ok, take 174 consecutive folks with BP over 140/90 on treatment. Do a 10 day water fast with a 2 day pre and 7 day post vegan period. 100% are off their meds in 10 days. Try that with medications! (And they weren't hungry!) 

Joel Fuhrman documents Dr. Alan Goldhamer's ongoing study in which 51 people with high blood pressure have been fasted for an average of 11.2 days. The average presenting blood pressure was 151.8/91.1 and 10 days later the average was 117.8/75.1. Six months later, the average blood pressure was 123/77.48 
Does this just blow you away with amazement? How come you haven't been told about this before? Was the option offered to you when you were first diagnosed with high blood pressure? Do you freak out with fear that you will be too hungry? 

Most of us have 25%-40% fat which means we are carrying around enough calories to fast for 60-100 days before we starve. That's a nifty feature of human fat. It gives us the ability to make it through winter, or dry season. But there is some nuance to how all this fasting should be done. A pre ramp-up diet of vegetables and a withdrawal come down diet of gradual reintroduction of calories is all part of a properly conducted diet.

And if you want a little fun, order Upton Sinclair's personal pamphlet on fasting from Amazon (The Fasting Cure). It will cost you $ .99 in Kindle format. Upton Sinclair won the Pulitzer prize back in the 50's for all his work, most notably The Jungle. He discovered fasting all by himself after being chronically ill for years and seeking every health guru in America's advice. He has a couple of hilarious letters to the Editor of the New York Times, but mostly multiple compelling, real-life stories of his success and his family’s success. His wife survived appendicitis without surgery but was also chronically ill. She fasted 10 days and returned to full health.

WWW: What will work for me. I do a 5 day fast mimicking thing every month for the last 16 months. In two days, I'm not hungry and actually can feel my memory pick up then. I sleep better and do fine. I'm certain I could go 10 days. Upton Sinclair, in his pamphlet, ridicules people who fast frequently, again and again. He maintains its silly because once you do it, you are cured. He suggests you don't need to do it if you are well. Hmmmm. This three meals a day thing may just not be the best for us, particularly when it comes with sugar, fat, and too many calories. (The bag of taco chips on the counter is waving at me.)

Pop Quiz

  1. If you fast 10 days, you are stupidly starving yourself? T or F. Answer: False. You are resetting your immune system and allowing your body to recover from the damaging assault on your immune system our modern food supply brings.
  2. You feel famished and can't stand the hunger in a prolonged fast. T or F. Answer: False. It's the tiny bit of carbs, sugar and other temptations that make you feel hungry. Once you are in ketosis, your hunger goes away.
  3. How long does it take to get into ketosis (burning fat)? Answer: You begin to enter ketosis every night by about 12 hours and have a bHB level of 1.1 at 7 am after an all-night 14 hour fast but it takes 48 hours to get bHB into the 3 plus range.
  4. What percent of folks with high blood pressure can be off all their meds with a 10 day, supervised fast? Answer: 100
  5. What is the best predictor of how long you live? Answer: It might be more complicated than a super simple answer, but the money is on your blood pressure. Lower is better. I value an insulin blood level over a cholesterol level for predicting cardiovascular disease down the road.