Doctors have developed a ground-breaking new diet and lifestyle program that reverses hypertension and brings your blood pressure down into the healthy range.
Results from the Newstart Lifestyle program were presented at the American Society for Nutrition annual meeting in June 2018. The study, carried out at the Weimer Institute, involved 117 people whose blood pressures fell from an average of 138 mmHg to 119 mmHg – a drop of 19 mmHg after just 16 days.
By the end of the program, one in two achieved a systolic blood pressure below the recommended 120 mmHg. What’s more, 93% of those taking part were able to reduce their doses of medication (24%) or come off their antihypertensive drugs altogether (69%).
What is the Newstart Lifestyle program?
The Newstart Lifestyle program involves changing everything in your life for the better:
- Following a plant-based vegan diet
- Walking outside in the fresh air every day
- Drinking a lot of water
- Getting sufficient sleep
- Temperance (ie abstinence from alcohol)
- The optional addition of taking part in spiritual activities such as trusting in a higher power (meditation is a good alternative).
The Newstart Lifestyle program was equally effective at lowering blood pressure in people with isolated hypertension, and those whose hypertension was associated with diabetes, being overweight or obese, and in those with high cholesterol levels.
What you can eat on the Newstart Lifestyle Program
The vegan diet used in this study focussed on foods, such as beans, legumes, whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, olives, avocados, soy milk, almond milk and whole-grain breads. When following a vegan diet:
Include as wide a variety of foods as possible.
Select whole-grain cereals rather than refined cereals, which have many nutrients stripped out of them.
Prepare home-made rather than pre-packed or processed meals as much as possible.
Eat three to four servings of cereal and grains every day (eg wholemeal bread, brown rice, wholewheat pasta, buckwheat, polenta, quinoa, chia) – these provide protein, fibre, B vitamins, calcium and iron.
Have at least 400g vegetables per day – at least five portions, with at least two portions of carrots or sweet potato per week for betacarotene
Have a large salad or portion of dark green, leafy vegetables (eg spinach, watercress, broccoli, kale) every day for folate, calcium and iron.
Eat at least two pieces of fruit per day, one of which is a citrus fruit for vitamin C.
Two to three servings of pulses, nuts and seeds per day for protein, energy, fibre, calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc and vitamin E.
Nuts, seeds, pulses and cereals will provide protein, but these need to be mixed and matched to obtain all the amino acids you need – for example, the essential amino acid missing from haricot beans is found in bread, so combining cereals with pulses or seeds and nuts will help to provide a balanced amino acid intake.
Tofu and textured vegetable protein (TVP) made from soy beans as an excellent source of protein, calcium, iron, zinc, thiamin, riboflavin and niacin.
Mycoprotein derived from the fungus Fusarium graminosum as a good source of protein. NB Some products may contain egg white so are not suitable for strict vegans.
Have dried fruits, unsalted nuts, nut butters and seeds as snacks for fibre and iron.
Use nut, soy or rice milks to obtain some calcium.
Consider taking a vitamin and mineral supplement designed for a vegan diet, which supplies vitamin B12, iron, zinc and other key nutrients that can be difficult to obtain on a vegan diet.
The researchers now plan to test the program in more people over a longer period of time, but the preliminary findings look pretty impressive. The only problem might be sticking to a diet and lifestyle that is probably drastically different to what you are used to.
Would you consider making such drastic changes to your diet and lifestyle to ‘cure’ your hypertension?
Another option is to follow a vegetarian diet (which allows dairy, cheese and eggs) which has also been found to help lower blood pressure. And if you can’t do without some fish and meat, the DASH diet is an accepted blood pressure lowering diet that is a low salt version of the Mediterranean way of eating.