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When Food Causes High Blood Pressure

When Food Causes High Blood PressureAfter years of eating gluten-free, I found that my blood pressure fell significantly.

“Well, obviously your high blood pressure is gone,” my doctor told me last week. We were talking about a medical condition that had lasted for decades. Over the years, it had resisted the effects of calcium channel blockers, beta blockers, ACE-inhibitors and other drugs. But when I stopped taking drugs and made a relatively simple change to my diet, my high blood pressure vanished.

Heart Disease Adventures

Over much of my lifetime, the health of my coronary arteries has provided me with a frustrating conundrum. No matter what I did to lead what I considered a heart-healthy lifestyle, my blood pressure stayed elevated and plaque insisted on collecting in one particular artery. Unfortunately, that artery — the left anterior descending artery to the heart, nicknamed the “widow maker” — is crucial to the survival of the heart muscle.

As a result, when I’ve traveled to various hospitals for angioplasties, I’ve been greeted by the cardiac nurses with questions like “What are you doing here?” as they wondered why someone who looked as healthy as I did would be having artery problems at such a young age. Another nurse once congratulated me on being “the healthiest heart patient we’ve ever had.”

High Blood Pressure

Meanwhile, my blood pressure had been high since the very first time it was measured during my college years. It was a fact that surprised my doctor and shocked my parents. And nobody could offer a good explanation for its elevation.

Aside from my hypertension, I knew I was at increased risk of heart disease since every male in my family had suffered with it. Both of my grandfathers died at relatively young ages because of heart attacks. In his 60s, my father had had quintuple bypass surgery.

As a result, I tried to protect myself with exercise, diet and stress control. Every time new recommendations came out for protecting heart health, I followed them.

As an exercise addict, I had no problem getting enough physical activity. I always stuck to a pretty strict diet, and my weight always stayed under control.


What I didn’t know was that the inflammation in my body that was annoying my cardiovascular system originated in something I never expected: gluten.

Now don’t get me wrong, I didn’t originally give up gluten because I thought it would help my high blood pressure or heart. I gave it up because I was having serious memory problems; and I wanted to see if going gluten-free would solve my brain problems. It did.

What I found when I gave up gluten (I have also given up all grains) was that inflammation in my body dropped. For instance, my inflamed reaction to insect bites eased up. (And, for some reason, I am no longer bitten by insects as frequently.)

I also gradually realized that my blood pressure was dropping. I have a home blood pressure cuff that I had been using to help me discover if meditation could lower my blood pressure. I found that if I visualized peaceful scenes and carefully controlled my breathing, I could, in fact, drop my blood pressure readings.

But after years of eating gluten-free, I found that my blood pressure fell significantly. Today, I can sit at my home computer, surfing the Internet while taking my blood pressure, and get readings that are lower than I ever could produce by focusing on my diaphragm and mentally picturing a misty morning in the Smoky Mountains.

Recent Research

The most recent investigations into chronic conditions like heart disease show that inflammation, an overreaction of the immune system, may be to blame for many people’s ill health. I guess I was lucky to discover that gluten was the source of my inflammation, though I wish I had found it sooner or that one of my doctors had been savvy enough to figure it out.

Filed Under: Alternative MedicineEasy Health Digest™Gluten and CeliacHeart and CardiovascularHeart Concerns

About the Author: Carl Lowe has written about health, fitness and nutrition for a wide range of publications including Prevention Magazine, Self Magazine and Time-Life Books. The author of more than a dozen books, he has been gluten-free since 2007.

Facebook Conversations

  • Manoj

    Amazing Carl..did you also have marginally elevated levels of LDL and Total Cholesterol ? Your story kind of resonates with mine..essential hypertension from my College days with no apparent cause…kept off the meds till very recently when the whole thing spiralled out of control with no initially apparent effects…i felt and was fit and fine..just that the BP numbers were very high. Tried several meds…which initially worked and hen stopped working .Will try and eliminate gluten and see if that does the trick.

    • Carl Lowe

      As a matter of fact, when I was still consuming gluten, my HDL cholesterol was consistently low and has since reached a much better level since going gluten-free.

    • Jason

      I have had hypertension on and off since my 20′s and it became very elevated last year in my late 40′s. I had no results reducing sodium or exercising daily, but made a change in diet to minimize animal protein, and eliminate dairy and oil and it worked! BP is now normal. Most, but not all of my grains are gluten-free but I will try eliminating all gluten now as well.

      • Yacov Lev

        I had very similar experience – I am now 78 and had high BP for the last 10 years or so. Have been on medication for the last 6 months and tried anything I could think of in order to stop being dependent on them. A combination of a vegetarian diet, eliminating most oils (olive oil seems to be OK), grains, dairy product and artificial sugars all helped. However, it seems that cutting down on the amount of intake is as, if not more, important.

  • John

    Thank you! My wife has had heart problems and got entangled with cardiovascular heart disease purveyors. Fortunately there are people out there that care for others, so Dr Rath has shown us how to give her a new heart with the correct nutrient cocktail, but I am still weaning her off warferin , Many thanks and I will ask her to try your gluten free method. John

  • Maureen

    I’ve been thinking of getting rid of gluten because my allergies are getting the best of me. Allergy tests showed I’m allergic to wheat, but maybe it’s the gluten in the wheat. Also have a blood pressure problem. Only thing is, gluten is in so many things that we wouldn’t even suspect. Wish I could find a good article or book on how to avoid it and what you can use in it’s place.

  • http://none Echo Zettlemoyer

    Smoky says
    July 31, 2012

    I’m on warferin and after reading the Drug Muggers Book by Suzy Cohen,, I am now on a green drink every day. Any one who has been placed on blood thinners must not stop eating their greens, spinach, green beans, peas, etc. as your brain needs K2 vitamins in order to keep healthy and not come down with Alzheimers disease. I’m also on a gluten free diet and feeling much better. Please go to http://www.coconut and read how good hand made the old fashioned way virgin coconut oil is good for you. Get their book on coconut and read how you can help with so many diseases instead of taking drugs. I too have high blood pressure and hope the coconut oil and being back on my green salads and green drink a day, will bring my blood problem down. Green drink I use is: All Day Energy Greens by IVL. I too plan on getting off all drugs as they all have bad side problems. Every one, please get the book by Suzy Cohen she is a pharmacist and knows more about good nutrition than what the doctors do. She says eat your greens and let the doctor cut down on the warfarin. How right she is. Greens also take care of your eye sight. Many people come down with MD due to not eating their greens. I have this problem and am now eating my salads and drink my green drink every day and let the doctor cut down on my blood thinner.

    • Linda

      I also had elevated blood pressure, and was taking All Day Energy Greens by IVL for energy. I noticed that I became very nervous and shaky. So I started checking the ingredients in the energy greens, and found out that Licorice Root causes your b/p to go up. You may want to google Licorice Root, and see what you can find out about it.

  • Barb

    I can attest to the side effects of high blood pressure medicines. My problem is salt. I started eating the so called healthy steamers to lose weight and eat healthy. I ended up in the ER. The healthy steamers had over 1400 mg of sodium in each meal! My heart was pounding in my ears and driving me nuts.

    I was put on medication which gave me horrible nightmares, constipation and depression. Never had these problems before going on meds. Docs wanted to put me on anti-depressives. I said “NO! I will NOT live my life like that, taking all kinds of pills.”

    Well, I stopped seasoning the food on my plate and seasoned much less during cooking. I love the Mediterranean diet.

    I can not begin to tell you the difference in how I feel. Oh, I stopped taking high BP meds over a year ago, drink lots more water and get proper rest. My BP is now within normal limits and no more THUMP, THUMP, THUMP in my ears.

    If I slip up and have too many potato chips, I feel it. So I chop a clove or two of garlic and swallow with a glass of water. This works for me, but may not be good for others.

    A good cold beer once per day is a wonderful diuretic and calms the nerves. So, time for my beer now. Toodles!

  • Robert@}lower blood pressure

    Thanks for the information! There are many natural ways to lower high blood pressure.Prescription drugs have many long term side effects and if you suffer from hypertension you should find out many natural and holistic ways that exist to cure hypertension for yourself.Imagine not having to take medication again for your hypertension. How good it would be?

  • Ann@ High Blood Pressure

    Hi Easyhealthoptions,
    Neat Post, Hi,

    i started organic whole milk to my baby at 12months old..
    Normally pediatrician recommended blood test(12 months blood picture).i got the results as everything normal except white blood cells count is high(25000).
    Pediatrician recommended the test again after 1 week
    They did the test after 1 week, wbc count came as 17000.
    we didn’t do anything..
    Is there any food causes getting wbc count is high?
    is this wbc is high because of whole milk?
    My baby is doing good after this test …
    everything is normal..
    no fever..
    no ear infection..

    can you guys plzz answer this..
    Kindest Regards

  • George

    Hi Carl
    What a great find your story was for me.
    I’ve had high BP since my teens and have been subjected to all wonderful tests. Doctors never found any reason and said “it must be genetic” and prescribed me pills. I’m quite fit and exercise a lot – to no avail as far as my BP is concerned.

    I don’t believe that my BP is genetic and that there must be some other reason. I started researching about various food intolerance issues and started to realize that what we eat has a much bigger influence on our health than modern medicine makes us believe. Encouraged by posts, such as yours, I cut out gluten from my diet and voila, my BP dropped by about 10-15 points within a few weeks and jumps right back up when I put gluten back into my diet.

    Also, my headaches are much less frequent and so I think that gluten is to blame for my BP and headaches. I’ll see my doc in a few weeks and hope he’ll take me of my medication …

    Thanks for posting your story!