Functional Medicine Health Concerns

Supporting Healthy Blood Pressure Levels

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/6″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]Elevated blood pressure predisposes individuals to cardiovascular disease and
increased risk of cardiac events, including stroke and myocardial infarction (heart attack). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as of 2021, the prevalence of hypertension increases with age, with a rate of 22.4% among adults aged 18 to 39, a rate of 54.5% among those aged 40 to 59, and a rate of 74.5% among those aged 60 and older.

Primary or essential hypertension has no direct identifiable etiology, although genetics, suboptimal dietary intake, and other factors, such as sedentary lifestyle and obesity, are believed to be involved. In contrast, secondary hypertension is caused by other disease processes, including renal or endocrine pathophysiology.
Patients may unknowingly begin to trend toward hypertension without any overt
symptoms before diagnosis. This highlights the importance of regular blood pressure monitoring. When present, symptoms may signify more severe hypertension, and include headache, fatigue, vision problems, chest pain, and arrhythmia.

Nutrition and lifestyle intervention serve as important facets of care in preventing and ameliorating hypertension. You can lower blood pressure through the maintenance of healthy weight, increased physical activity, stress management techniques, and adoption of a heart-healthy diet, such as the Mediterranean diet.

Additionally, nutrients that support vasodilation, healthy endothelial function, and blood pressure regulation can be emphasized through diet or supplementation.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”2025″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” onclick=”custom_link” img_link_target=”_blank” link=””][vc_column_text]

Action Steps to Support Healthy Blood Pressure Levels

Lifestyle Intervention

  • Regular physical activity to support healthy cardiovascular function and a healthy body mass index (BMI).
  •  Stress management practices, such as breath work, meditation, and yoga to
    modulate sympathetic response and tone.

Therapeutic Diet and Nutritional Considerations

  • Consumption of a heart healthy diet such as the Mediterranean diet or dietary
    approaches to stop hypertension, also known as the DASH diet.
  • Support blood pressure levels through intake of magnesium- and potassium-rich foods:
    o Spinach
    o Kale
    o Swiss chard
    o Pumpkin seeds
    o Almonds
    o Beet greens
    o Quinoa
    o Black beans and lima beans
    o Tuna and salmon
    o Dark chocolate
    o Avocado

Supplement support based on practitioner guidance:

  •  Hibiscus tea
  • Hawthorne extract
  •  CoQ10 with lipoic acid
  • Magnesium Taurate


Final Thoughts

Functional medicine aims to focus on the cause of a medical condition rather than the symptoms. Conventional medical approaches can be quick to use drugs to control the associated symptoms rather than solving the underlying issue which can cause further issues in the long-run.

For example, high blood pressure is sometimes a result of poor eating habits or lifestyle habits such as smoking and drinking. A functional medicine approach looks for the underlying cause and will include a range of different tests to determine what is going on.

The practitioner will consider the full medical and lifestyle history of the individual and use a patient-centered approach. There can be a wide range of triggers for high blood pressure including environmental and genetic causes.

Low levels of certain vitamins such as vitamin D and C, for example, can impact blood pressure and cause raised blood pressure levels. Exposure to high levels of mercury can have a similar effect. Low levels of potassium in relation to sodium also leads to high blood pressure. If someone is pre-diabetic they may have high blood sugar levels and a predisposition to chronic high blood pressure.

The cause of high blood pressure is often different for each individual and, where conventional medicine provides a one size fits all solution, the functional medicine approach looks for the unique factors that are causing the condition.

If someone is suffering from inflammation, for example, their high blood pressure may be a result of that particular health problem. Treating the inflammation and reducing it can in turn result in an improvement in terms of the patient’s blood pressure.

Lifestyle interventions make a huge difference to many chronic conditions we suffer from in the modern world, including high blood pressure. For one individual that could mean adding more foods high in potassium. For another, it might be reducing weight and living a less sedentary lifestyle.

While we recommend the action steps stated above to support a healthy blood pressure, we can not emphasize enough how important it is to talk with a functional medicine provider to create a personalized pathway to restore healthy blood pressure!

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Functional Medicine Health Concerns

A Functional Approach to a Healthy Weight

I started my program focused on gut health & overall better function in the body – and the weight just took care of itself!!

Approaching Weight from a Functional Perspective

Healthy Weight: (adj. + n.) a body’s relative mass or the quantity of matter contained by it, that does not negatively impact but rather regulates optimal bodily functions; can be comfortably maintained with lifestyle and does not consume one’s thoughts.

You take up space. A measurement of space is weight. The weight of your body is a compilation of purpose! Down to every one of your 724+/- trillion cells.

One of the beautiful things about how we are designed is that we have the ability to guide the purpose of our cells by what we do and how we live.

An Integrative Approach to Healthy Weight

The etiology of unhealthy weight in today’s world is multi-factorial including genetic, psychosocial, emotional, behavioral and environmental factors.  Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight may require attention to deeper issues in all aspects of lifestyle including:

  • Nutrition
  • Mindfulness
  • Physical activity
  • Lifestyle imbalances
  • Stress management
  • Quality sleep
  • Spiritual connection

Addressing Root Issues

When journeying on the path to a healthy weight, it is necessary to address not the symptom of unhealthy weight but rather the root issues that is causing it. With functional medicine, providers often do in-depth testing to uncover what is going on or not going on internally such irregular thyroid activity, insulin resistance, hormonal imbalances, toxic overload, nutrient deficiencies or imbalances, etc.

Evidence suggests the following therapies may be helpful for weight management:

  • Body therapies such as chiropractic, message therapy, and acupuncture
  • Mind-body techniques such as meditation, breathing exercises, and artistic expression
  • Talk therapy including counseling, support groups and motivational interviewing

“We used to eat to fill our stomachs but now we eat to fill our hearts.” – Dr. Rangan Chatterjee

If we stop to look at the real reasons people eat certain foods, it’s not a lack of self-control like the stigma suggests- it is a lack of other things in life.

Don’t Weight! A Better Approach to Healthy Weight

Here are five key elements that can help us tune into our hunger cues, emotional needs, and physical responses to food in a way that makes us feel better overall, with weight loss as an added benefit. Stopping to ask yourself what, when, why, where, and how, every time you eat, creates a sense of awareness and sustainable results that are often missing from diet culture.

When we regulate the body’s biological systems, we automatically regulate the brain chemistry, hormones, and other factors that can lead to an unhealthy weight when left unchecked. And, when we begin to understand that the food industry knows how to hijack those systems at the highest level, we can stop blaming ourselves and start making positive changes!

If the body still can’t seem to find its healthy weight, seek assistance! There may be deeper issues going on.

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