In episode 125 of his video series, Dr. Larson discusses:
Elevated blood pressure is the silent killer because, without warning, it can lead to heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. And all of those conditions can be deadly the very first time that they happen. We know that elevated blood pressure is a key risk factor for all of these conditions, and it can occur without any symptoms at all. So the person doesn’t even know that a heart attack or stroke is coming. What many people don’t understand is the association that elevated blood pressure has to metabolic syndrome.
Remember, metabolic syndrome is a condition that is defined by elevated blood pressure, elevated blood sugar, high triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol, and elevated waist circumference. If you have any three of those things, you are considered to have metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is very prevalent in our society, and I have seen it in many different age groups. It can even occur in adolescence. One of the key components of metabolic syndrome is waist circumference or visceral adipose tissue or belly fat. Belly fat comes about due to insulin resistance or hyperinsulinemia, which is a result of poor dietary management.
So, what are the relationships between elevated blood pressure, insulin, and diet? The association is that when we increase our intake of sugar and refined grain-type processed foods, it causes an increase in insulin. The kidneys are in the middle of the process. When we eat poorly, like consuming junk food, insulin causes increased reabsorbion of sodium by the kidneys, which can increase blood pressure. Also, during states of elevated insulin, the body goes through a little bit of an increase of the sympathetic nervous system (the fight or flight system) — and that also causes blood pressure to go up, by increasing peripheral resistance of the blood vessels. During elevated or chronic states of excess sympathetic nervous system tone, your blood pressure also goes up due to increased insulin
DR. CHAD LARSON
The sympathetic nervous system is excellent for short bursts of adrenaline like when we exercise or when we need to protect ourselves or run from danger. But when we live chronically in the sympathic nervous system due to elevated insulin, it causes an increase in blood pressure. That is how insulin is a key contributor to metabolic syndrome. The way to address metabolic syndrome can differ from one person to another, but it is important to understand the connection between insulin and blood pressure. The foods that you choose can affect your blood pressure. It isn’t as much about the salt that we eat in our diet — but it’s what the salt is on, like chips and pretzels – that make insulin go up, followed by elevated blood pressure. Since insulin is the key, be mindful of your consumption of processed carbohydrate foods, to combat the risk factor of elevated blood pressure.