- Removing foods that may trigger or exacerbate an immune response. The best starting place for most patients is an autoimmune version of the Paleo diet, which follows the typical Paleo guidelines but also removes eggs and nightshade plants.
- Increasing intake of nutrients that promote optimal immune function. These include glutathione, selenium, zinc, vitamin D, vitamin A, and EPA and DHA, which are all well-represented in a Paleo-type diet.
- Increasing intake of foods that support a healthy gut microbiota. These include fermentable fibers that feed the beneficial bacteria, and fermented foods that contain the beneficial bacteria themselves. (For more on the connection between the gut microbiota and autoimmune disease, see this article.)
Increased consumption of sugar—especially sugar-sweetened beverages like soda—is associated with high blood pressure, and reducing sugar intake has been shown to lower blood pressure. (5) Those with high blood pressure should be particularly mindful about reducing their consumption of added sugars.
High dietary intake of potassium is associated with lower blood pressure. In fact, many researchers believe that the protective effects of potassium are one of the major reasons why hunter-gatherers like the Kalahari Bushmen and traditional pygmies of Sub-Saharan Africa have such a low incidence of high blood pressure. In Paleolithic diets, the average daily intake of potassium was approximately 10,500 mg/d. In comparison, the average American consumes about 2,800 mg/d. (6)
In the U.S., increasing potassium intake alone would decrease the number of adults with high blood pressure by 17 percent, and increase life expectancy by five years for over 12 million Americans.
The highest sources of potassium in a Paleo-type diet are potatoes, halibut, plantains, rockfish, sweet potato, salmon, and beet greens.
A high dietary intake of magnesium has been shown to reduce blood pressure, though its effect is not as strong as what is observed with potassium. Nuts, seeds, spinach, beet greens, and chocolate are the highest food sources of magnesium on a Paleo diet.
We’ve been told for years that a high salt intake is one of the primary risk factors for high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease, but it’s time to shake up the salt myth. Though some studies do suggest that restricting salt can lower blood pressure, the evidence supporting a connection between salt intake and cardiovascular disease is weak at best. What’s more, some evidence suggests that restricting salt too much may be harmful to our health.
- “People who work at a standing desk burn up to 75 percent more calories per day than people who sit for most of the day. (4)
- The more breaks you take from sitting, the lower your waist circumference, body mass index, and triglycerides, and the more stable your blood sugar. (5)
- A single night of partial sleep deprivation causes insulin resistance even in healthy people with no preexisting metabolic disease. (6)”
- Exercise and sitting less are both associated with lower blood pressure (7)
- Both short sleep duration and poor sleep quality increase the risk that you’ll develop high blood pressure. (8)
- Exposure to sunlight increases the production of a chemical in our bodies called nitric oxide, which in turn lowers blood pressure. (9)
- Several studies have shown that meditation can be effective for lowering blood pressure, possibly via its relaxing effects on the nervous system. (10)