Dealing with high blood pressure

I had a routine check yesterday evening and to my big surprise I found out that my blood pressure was 144/101.
My whole life I have had low blood pressure, on the range of 80/60 and I am puzzled about the huge jump.
I did gain some weight compared to 10 years ago, but not that much, probably around 5 kg. Could it be too much for my petite frame?

According to the literature, high blood pressure is a blood pressure reading of 140/90 mmHg or higher and once high blood pressure develops, it usually lasts a lifetime. High blood pressure is called the silent killer because it usually has no symptoms. Some people may not find out they have it until they have trouble with their heart, brain, or kidneys. Apparently it can be treated and controlled.

Things that can raise blood pressure include:
· Eating too much salt- I do eat salty but not that much
· Drinking too much alcohol- It’s not the case
· Not getting enough potassium in your diet- That may be true, although I started eating bananas
· Not doing enough physical activity- That is definitely a problem
· Taking certain medicines- Which ones?
· Having long-lasting stress- That is the most probable reason
· Smoking (smoking can cause a temporary rise in blood pressure)- I don’t smoke

It boils down to dealing with stress in a better way and starting working out again.
Stress– I guess I have to restart meditation and yoga
Exercise– I need more discipline, that’s for sure

I am not taking any birth control pills, any hormone replacement therapy and I am not postmenopausal.
I can conclude that it’s the stress factor.
Before panicking I will go tomorrow to have another quick blood pressure check. Maybe it was just a fluke.
Regardless the result, I am going to treat it like a wake-up call and start doing something before it’s too late.

How much Vitamin D you should get?

Vitamin D is the only vitamin that’s also a hormone and the only vitamin that you can manufacture on your own when your skin is exposed to the sun.
But in the darker winter months, especially here in BC -where it’s pissing rainy three quarters of the year-, you need to boost the vitamin D intake somehow. Latitude has a negative influence as well, so for us, Canadians, it’s a double whammy.
Hence the need of supplements and/or better-balanced meals.
Actually according to some new findings, you can’t get the necessary amount of vitamin D exclusively from food.

Numerous studies linked the vitamin D deficiency with various medical conditions.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women with a lack of vitamin D, will deplete the baby from this vitamin as well.
Some signs of vitamin D deficiency:
– tooth decay
– trouble sleeping or insomnia
– lack of energy
– nervousness
– insulin production affected, hence worsening diabetes

But how much do you need daily?
The new guidelines recommend 1,000 IU a day for older people and those with dark skin. Some researchers think levels of up to 2,000 IU a day should even be considered.
What is known- so far- is that the safest dose of vitamin D is 1000 IU.
Over 2000 IU is too much and can lead to kidney problems- including kidney stones- and bone and muscle deterioration.
As much as you would like to keep it all natural and food related, it’s almost impossible to get this amount from food.
You have to use supplements.

One of the major sources of vitamin D is fish. Tuna, salmon and sardines are coming highly recommended.
But, you cant’ eat too much tuna due to the high concentration of mercury. And how much can you munch on sardines? I bet that after eating fish three times a week, you start feeling nauseous only when you smell it.
I love sushi for example, and if I don’t have it for, let’s say a month or two, I feel like I could eat sushi every day. But as soon as I eat two days in a row, I have a different opinion.

Now let’s analyze how much vitamin D you find in some foods:
Food Vitamin D IU
Salmon (3.5 ounces) 360
Tuna, canned (3 ounces) 200
Sardines, canned (1.75 ounces) 250
Milk, cow’s (1 cup) 100
Milk, soy (1 cup) 100
Margarine (1 tablespoon) 60
Fortified cereal (about 1 cup) 40
Egg (1 whole) 20

Do the math now and find out how much you have to eat every day to get your proper vitamin D intake… like 2 cans of sardines, 2 cups of milk (but lots of people have lactose intolerance and some studies showed that milk is not good for adults), 10 eggs (say good bye to your good cholesterol), 2 cups of fortified cereals and the rest could be margarine (yuck).

Or if you have the stomach to do it: code liver oil.
One tablespoon provides about 1,400 IU of vitamin D.

I remember when I was in daycare, eons ago, our caregivers used to give us once a week a teaspoon of fish oil, not sure what kind, followed by a slice of lemon with sugar.
It was quite disgusting that fish oil.

In conclusion, sometimes you have to admit that we have to use vitamin supplements and it does not make you less righteous food wise.

Too much water could kill you

No, I am not talking about drowning, I am talking about the water we drink.
Everybody is familiar with the 8-glasses-of-water-a-day advice, right?
Actually it’s not an advice, it’s a dangerous medical myth.
A myth is a myth until it’s debunked; at that point it becomes a corollary of human stupidity.

One of my colleagues drinks about seven liters of water every day. That’s about 6 liters more than I do.
And he is totally convinced that it’s not only healthy, it also helps achieving his weight loss target by burning carbohydrates.

I have a feeling that this ‘water-burning-carbohydrates’ it’s just another myth, waiting to be debunked.

Now, let’s see what are the water functions in the body:

– Regulates body temperature
– Moisten tissues (mouth, eyes, nose)
– Protects body organs
– Lubricate joints
– Helps prevent constipation
– Flushes out waste products
– Carries nutrients and oxygen to cells
– Helps dissolve minerals and nutrients

Water makes about 60% of our weight. We are truly weird beings, made of 60 per cent water and 90 per cent bacteria.

We lose water every day through breath, perspiration, urine and feces. Therefore it makes sense to replenish the water supply by consuming foods and beverages that contain water.
If you exercise, you may need to drink more fluids, depending on how much you sweat. And by fluids, I mean sport drinks that contain sodium, to replace the sodium lost through sweating, and reduce the chances of developing hyponatremia, which can be life-threatening.
It makes sense that under various conditions (humid, hot environment, breast-feeding, some health conditions like vomiting and diarrhea) you should drink more water than you normally would do.
But there are no scientific studies to prove that drinking 8 glasses of water a day has any added benefits vs. drinking only 4, for example.
Even more, I found a very interesting data on daily fluid intake by American adults before and after the ‘8 x 8’ revolution.
It shows that after the adoption of 8-glasses-of-water-daily, the intake of soft drinks, alcohol and juices doubled!
No wonder the rate of obesity.

It’s better to listen to your body and your common sense.
When I tried to increase my water intake to meet the minimum 8 glasses a day, I felt sick and vomited. Probably it was my body response to too much water.

– Fluids come from various sources: soups, fruits, vegetables, tea, coffee, beer, wine, water
– Drink water when you feel thirsty
– Stop drinking water if you feel nauseous, it’s a sign you had too much

Fighting a nasty sinus infection

I had a routine MRI a month ago and looking for a thing, the technician found the other, namely a chronic, severe sinus infection.
My doctor was puzzled ‘with such a big sinus infection you should have screamed in pain, what the heck is happening?’
If I recall correctly, it was sometimes in the spring time when I had a bad cold; I kept coughing for almost two months. Normally I suffer from migraines, I have had them since I was in school, eons ago. Therefore that cold came and went like a normal one, or so I thought.
I was left with a constant nasal congestion, postnasal drip and some persistent headaches, thought to be my normal migraines.

My doctor gave me some antibiotic, thinking that it might have been a bacterial infection. It did not help at all; everything was still there, the postnasal drip, the pressure, the nasal congestion.

Finally I remembered about the nasal cleansing I used to do when I was practicing yoga.
And I thought that I should give it a try.
But before that, I did some inhalations: boiling water + lots of sea salt + some baking soda. It helped a lot; almost immediately I could feel the relief from the pressure; even the headache was almost gone.
I could not believe the wonderful feeling of breathing almost normally.
Next step: I bought a Sinus Rinse made by NeilMed. It consists of premixed packets of pharmaceutical grade Sodium Chloride and Sodium Bicarbonate (Baking Soda). Although you don’t need a prescription, you have to ask the pharmacist because it’s behind the counter.
Great product, I would highly recommend it to everybody suffering from sinusitis.
Just follow the instructions step-by-step.

Some people recommend daily nasal cleansing, to wash away excess mucus, allergens and bacteria. That will keep a normal amount of mucus capable of fighting infections. Maybe before going to bed I should add this to the routine: nasal cleansing followed by teeth brushing.

To help my sinusitis and my son’s cold symptoms (stuffy/runny nose) I started again using essential oils.
Normally I use an oil burner (the ceramic type with a candle) and add a few drops of lavender, tea tree, oregano and thyme. I did not have any eucalyptus.

Oregano Oil
Considered ‘the nature purifier’, it contains powerful anti-microbial compounds. It’s recommended especially for respiratory and sinus conditions.
I am not very fond of the smell, but hey, it’s healthy.

Thyme Oil
This is a very potent oil, with lots of benefits. It fights infections, boosts immune system and it can be mixed with other essential oils.

Tea Tree Oil
This is a popular antiseptic oil, known probably by everybody.

Thanks to the mixture I made, my son seems to sleep quite well, breathing much easier than yesterday night.

What you did not know about the food you eat

Canned vegetables vs frozen ones

When we talk about vegetables, probably nothing is better than the fresh ones.
But realistically speaking from the convenience point of view we are more attracted to the canned and frozen ones.
Canned vegetables are made via heat. Heat is necessary to kill micro-organisms, prevent other chemical reactions and reduce the oxidation that will cause rancidity.
The heat will not only change flavor and color, it would take a toll on nutrients as well. According to some studies, up to 50% of the nutrients are lost during the canning process.
Vitamins, especially water-soluble vitamins like C and the B vitamins, are heat-sensitive and some leach into cooking water in the factory.
Frozen vegetables are the safe alternative striking the balance between safety and nutrition. They are made by plunging briefly the vegetables into boiling water followed by rapid cooling.
The preferred method of cooking vegetables is steaming to limit the nutrients and vitamin loss.

Sodium and Potassium Effects


– To counterbalance the taste loss due to heating and refinement, manufacturers will add extra salt.
– Salt also aid in preservation.
– People get 75 per cent of their salt from processed food, 10-15 per cent from food itself and 10-15 percent is added by consumers.
– The majority of people exceed the recommended salt intake (6 grams per day)
– Processing vegetables = potassium loss. Potassium is a mineral important to keep the sodium’s damage at bay.
– Sodium plays an important roll on blood pressure.

-With potassium lost via processing and the extra salt (Sodium) added to improve taste, we have an imbalance in the system. Hence high blood pressure which can lead to heart disease and stroke.
– According to some studies salt had no impact on blood pressure for people who had not been diagnosed with hypertension.

How to become a shopping expert
– Buy food from around the produce area: fresh and frozen vegetables and fruits, fish, meat and diary
– Choose frozen veggetables over canned, except tomatoes. The heat from cooking tomatoes actually helps to release lycopene, which is the main beneficial nutrient found in tomatoes.
– Choose real whole grain related products; check the label: it should not have an endless list of components
– Avoid everything that lists ‘partially hydrogenated oil’
– Choose a small piece of true cheese over a larger serving of processed cheese; I don’t even fancy the ‘light’ variety of cheese, because to make it light -as in less fat- the food manufacturers will compensate with other ingredients, moving it far from the natural form
– When looking for a good fruit juice, target the 100% fruit variety; it may have a mixture of natural juices, very often including apple and grape ones, along with natural flavours to compensate the loss during pasteurization, vitamin C and citric acid to maintain a shelf-stable pH. Of course the freshly-squeezed home-made juice is always the best