High blood pressure the gut, food, sunshine and toxins.

High blood pressure the gut, food, sunshine and toxins.

When we expose our skin to sunlight the UVA creates nitric oxide. This dilates the blood vessels and drops our blood pressure (BP). A key ingredient to this process is L-arginine an amino acid. If we are not digesting protein well we may not have enough L-arginine. So we miss out on some of the benefits of sunlight. There is a link between our gut health, our response to sunshine and high BP.

Top sources of arginine are nuts, seeds, dairy and meat.

High BP damages the internal lining of the blood vessels. This is called the endothelium. It is a single cell layer thick and covers an area equivalent to six tennis courts. Damage can occur due to many factors. Low B vitamin status can raise homocysteine which is a risk for heart disease. Oxidised low density lipoprotein (LDL) is also harmful. Sugar can damage this particle. Low folate from a poor diet can also contribute.

Some compounds in the diet may protect the endothelium such as polyphenols and anthocyanins. These may be found in spices and berries.

Gut and mouth.

Dysbiosis in the gut or the oral cavity releases toxins that again affect the blood vessels and the heart. Gut permeability allows lipopolysaccharides (LPS) to go into the blood. This causes the immune system to panic as the LPS are parts of bacteria. The signal to the body is that there may be impeding sepsis. Inflammation occurs damaging the endothelium.


Co-existing autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis can be as bad as smoking for arterial disease. Hypothyroidism can lead to disturbances in our blood fats.

Toxins and deficiencies.

Insulin resistance can also damage this vulnerable layer. Lead and mercury can do this too and are common toxic metals. Cadmium in smokers is also a problem as are some insecticides.

Certain treatments for high blood pressure such as beta blocker reduce CoQ10. ACE inhibitors lower zinc which leaves us more vulnerable to viral infections. Magnesium is a very common mineral deficiency due to levels being depleted in the soil. Deficiency may be contributing to high BP.

In Functional Medicine we look at the root causes of high BP. We then may be able to do away with medication for what is a symptom of a poor lifestyle.

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