Blood Pressure and Aging

A handful of years ago new data was released stating, essentially, that as Americans got older we could expect an increase in blood pressure numbers (systolic/diastolic), and that this would be the new norm. It’s now official: it’s absolutely NOT the aging process that causes the blood pressure numbers to rise, but the typical Western diet, which means we have complete control over those numbers! The parameters for keeping blood pressure readings reasonable is quite simple: exercise, drink plenty of water, keep sodium intake and processed foods low.

This information, supported by research from Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health, contrasted the lifestyles of two South American tribes, the Yanomami and the Yekwana. The Yanomami tribe is quite isolated and has virtually no Western dietary influences. They typically have no rise in blood pressure as they age, with average blood pressure readings of 95 systolic over 63 diastolic!

The Yekwana tribes’ diet is now heavily influenced by the Western world ~ high in processed foods and salt. They have seen a marked rise in blood pressure by their aging members. The conclusion of the researchers was that high blood pressure, a major cause of stroke and heart disease, is not an unavoidable consequence of aging, but a direct result of poor Western diet.

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