Hypertension (HT) is endemic in our society today, and for 75-85% of the people who have it, the cause is unknown. In fact, many people who don’t go to doctors regularly, don’t even know they have it. HT can lead to serious cardiovascular episodes like stroke, and can cause kidney problems, including failure. One of the culprits leading to HT is sodium in the diet. The government recently updated its Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Dr. Whitaker has written a nice article on the fact that the federal government has recommended 2300 mg/day for people younger than 51, and under 1500 mg/day for older people, without suggesting practical ways to do this (how strange). The current daily average for Americans is 3400 mg, and as Dr. Whitaker says, “Reducing that by more than a third isn’t going to happen, especially with no practical advice as to how to do it.” With all of the processed foods in our diet today, reducing sodium is difficult, unless one cooks more often.

Dr. Whitaker suggests seasoning natural foods with a mixture of one part regular salt to three parts potassium salt (Nu-Salt or Morton’s Salt Substitute). That way you cut sodium intake by 75%, but more importantly, increase potassium. High potassium foods include just about any kind of beans, artichokes, apricots (dried), avocados, bananas, dates, figs, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, beet greens, potatoes, spinach, Tuna, salmon, mollusks, halibut, trout, and cod, to name some. Potassium is to your soft tissues like calcium is to your bones; extremely important. Potassium, being alkaline, helps balance ph, helps maintain water balance in the body, is important for normal muscle growth, and is needed for healthy nervous system and brain function. Potassium performs a duet with sodium to balance osmotic pressure between the inside and outside of cell walls, allowing nutrients and waste products to flow in and out. For many people with high blood pressure (hypertension), increasing potassium intake will lower it.

Do you remember me advocating apple cider vinegar (ACV)? Dr. Whitaker heartily endorses ACV for blood sugar control. According to recent research, ACV works in a manner similar to metformin (Glucophage), the world’s most popular diabetes drug.

When ACV is taken with or just before meals, it inhibits enzymes necessary ¬†for digesting carbohydrates. When carbs are digested, they are converted into glucose (blood sugar), and released into the blood stream. When blood sugar goes up, presto; increased insulin. Insulin loves to store fat, so if you don’t need the sugar for energy, it gets stored around your waist, hips, thighs, etc.’ wherever, it seems, you don’t want it. ACV delays gastric emptying, so it blunts the insulin response.

New research shows that when ACV is taken at bedtime, it also lowers morning fasting blood sugars. ACV stimulates an enzyme called AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) that is a key player in glucose and fat metabolism, insulin signaling, and energy balance. AMPK increases fat burning, and lowers blood glucose and insulin release. The result, better blood glucose balance and fat loss. And, ACV is dirt-cheap. one or two tablespoons with breakfast and dinner, and one tablespoon at bedtime.

For a more extensive report, read the April, 2011 issue of Health & Healing, by Dr. Julian Whitaker.

Stay well, John R. Blilie, M.S.