You already know that high blood pressure spells trouble for your heart. But here’s something you may not know: It’s equally dangerous for your head—and more specifically, your brain.
And I’m not just referring to a higher risk of strokes, either.
New research shows that high blood pressure may have a starring role as the villain in the development of Alzheimer’s disease, too. And if you value your memory, you need to start tracking those top and bottom numbers today…
High blood pressure ages your brain by a decade
The new study followed nearly 1,300 older folks until their deaths. (About eight years, on average.) Researchers recorded annual blood pressure readings. Average systolic (that’s the top number) readings were 134 mmHg. The average diastolic pressure was 71 mmHg.
Overall, two-thirds of the subjects had a history of hypertension. And close to 90 percent were taking medication for it.
Brain autopsies after death showed that nearly half of the volunteers in this study had one or more brain infarct lesion. That’s the fancy term for a cluster of cells that die due to lack of blood flow. But the risk was a lot higher in folks with higher average systolic blood pressure.
Specifically, a systolic reading of 147 mmHg raised the risk of damaging brain lesions by 46 percent compared to people who had a top number of 134 mmHg. Which, according to researchers, represents about nine years’ worth of accelerated brain aging.
Autopsies also linked higher average systolic pressure to a greater number of tangles in the brain. One of the hallmark signs of Alzheimer’s disease.
But higher average diastolic pressure, the bottom number, was a problem, too. Every 8 mmHg increase was associated with a 28 percent higher risk of brain lesions. A significant bump in risk, too.
Natural cures for out-of-control high blood pressure
Drugs aren’t your only option for reining in hypertension. (And it’s a good thing, too.) In fact, there are a number of natural solutions. And they can offer your heart and your brain the best of both worlds.
Following are four simple supplements that can help send high blood pressure packing for just pennies a day:
Your body produces angiotensin l-converting enzyme (ACE) naturally. But when it makes too much, that can lead to high blood pressure. This is why ACE inhibitors are such popular prescriptions. But what many folks don’t realize is that garlic can deliver some of the same benefits naturally. And without dangerous side effects.
For example, in one study a group of guys suffering from mild to moderate hypertension took a daily dose of 600 mg of garlic. By the end of the study, their systolic blood pressure had dropped a healthy 7.0 mm Hg and their diastolic dropped by 3.8 on average, according to the research published in the journal Hypertension Research.
Plus this pungent spice also helps to dilate arteries. Which means it delivers a one-two punch against hypertension.
2. Vitamin C:
This simple, powerful antioxidant helps to keep LDL cholesterol from forming plaques that can rob your arteries of elasticity and rocket your blood pressure. So it’s a good thing it’s easy to sneak more vitamin C into your diet—through either supplements, or foods such as kale, bell peppers, broccoli, citrus, mangoes, or strawberries.
Calcium build-up also stiffens arteries. But getting more magnesium in your diet can help block this process, leaving your arteries more supple (and your blood pressure lower) as a result.
Food rich in magnesium include dark chocolate, avocados, black beans and nuts.
4. Vitamin D:
A recent randomized study found that for each 10 percent increase in vitamin D there was a measurable drop in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. And there’s good news for folks who aren’t already battling high blood pressure, too. There was an 8.1 percent decrease in the odds of developing hypertension in the first place.
In other words, you might be able to prevent hypertension—and ultimately, Alzheimer’s disease too—simply by meeting your daily sunshine quota. About 20 minutes to a half-hour a day, without sunscreen and with most of your skin exposed, will do the trick if you live in a sunny climate like Florida.
Otherwise, be sure to take your D3 supplement every single day. Or load up on D3 rich foods such as tuna, mackerel, cheese, beef liver, eggs and fortified dairy products.
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