Articles by Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D.Contributing Writer - Dr. Teitelbaum, also known as “Dr. T,” is an integrative physician and one of the country’s foremost experts on fatigue, sleep and pain management. The SHINE treatment program he developed for combating Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and Fibromyalgia and related conditions has helped hundreds of thousands of sufferers reclaim their health and vitality. Dr. Teitelbaum is the Medical Director of the National Fibromyalgia and Fatigue Centers and author of the best-selling books, From Fatigued to Fantastic!, Beat Sugar Addiction Now! and Pain Free 1-2-3. Visit his web site, EndFfatigue.com, to learn more.
If your blood pressure is too low, your organs don't get the blood they need to function properly (particularly your brain). This can make you feel dizzy and light-headed when you stand up; fatigued throughout the day; and "crash" after exercise.
If your pressure is elevated, the strong rush of blood can damage blood vessels, leading to heart attack, stroke, kidney failure and other diseases.
The best blood pressure is optimal blood pressure — not too low, not too high, but "just right."
If your blood pressure is too low it's likely you'll have one or more of the symptoms I just described. But how can you tell if your blood pressure is too high? Just go to the nearest supermarket or drugstore and use the free sphygmomanometer — a fancy medical name for a machine that reads blood pressure. (It's usually near the pharmacy.)
In my opinion, blood pressure shouldn't be elevated above 140/85. I know that many experts say a much lower level is optimal. But in my practice, I've found that lowering blood pressure below 140/80 is, especially in people with fatigue, more likely to cause side effects, and offers diminishing returns. So at that point, optimizing blood pressure with lifestyle and natural changes is the approach I prefer.
1. Don't Sweat the Salt
The role of salt in elevated blood pressure is overemphasized. The level of salt that most people eat does not contribute significantly to the problem. In fact, study after study shows that people who restrict salt to the level recommended by the government die younger than those eat more salt.
Further, the level of salt restriction necessary to lower blood pressure is so severe that most people can't do it and just end up feeling guilty — which is certainly not good for health!
So you may not need to torture yourself about the salt. Instead, I recommend people just aim to be reasonable.
As for those with low blood pressure: They need to increase their salt (and water) intake to optimize pressure levels.
2. Get Potassium and Magnesium in Your Diet
Research shows that elevated blood pressure usually isn't the result of too much salt, but rather of too little potassium, another key mineral.
To get your potassium, I recommend one or two of the following every day:
Eat a banana (slicing one over a bowl of whole grain breakfast cereal is a great way).
Eat one half of an avocado, which also delivers a big dose of potassium.
Drink an eight-ounce glass of V8 juice, tomato juice and/or coconut water — all rich sources of potassium.
Magnesium is another mineral that helps promote healthy blood pressure. You can get this from your diet be eating green leafy vegetables and nuts (especially almonds).
Other nutrients and nutritional compounds that help maintain healthy blood pressure and promote healthy heart function include ribose, coenzyme Q10, and B vitamins.
3. Exercise Regularly
Exercise helps optimize blood pressure, whether it's elevated or low. The best exercise? A walk outdoors in the sunshine, which also delivers vitamin D (the "sunshine vitamin"), a nutrient critical for maintaining healthy blood pressure.23.
4. Check Testosterone Levels (Men Only)
Inadequate levels of testosterone, even if they are low normal, can cause elevated blood pressure. Often, it will also cause high cholesterol and sometimes even diabetes (a common trio called "metabolic syndrome"). If you have high blood pressure, you should have your testosterone levels checked. That it is "normal" means nothing. I recommend it be kept over 450 ng/dl (and usually closer to 750).