According to the new blood pressure guidelines from the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology, more than half of the American population are now considered to have high blood pressure. (1)
The new guidelines lower the stage one high blood pressure guidelines from 140/90 to 130/80. The latest medical evidence has shown that people with blood pressure in the 130-139 range carry a doubled risk of heart attack, stroke, heart failure and kidney failure, compared to those with lower blood pressure. (1)
The new guidelines also came with a strong emphasis on lifestyle changes, rather than drugs, to deal with the 15 million Americans newly diagnosed with hypertension!
Dr. John’s Blood Pressure-Lowering Tip That Changed His Life
In 1985, I was in my second year of practice and was diagnosed with high blood pressure. My numbers were 135/95, and I was just 27. This was when I went to have my very first Ayurvedic consultation. The Indian doctor looked at my blood pressure and asked me only one question, “What do you eat for lunch?”
I responded by telling him that I usually had a very big breakfast and a good-sized dinner, but because I had a very busy practice, I was often running late for lunch. Lunch was, more often than not, eaten on the run. I remember feeling so frustrated in my first year of practice, because I would finish each day feeling exhausted—like I’d been hit by a bus!
I would then go home, meditate, do yoga or other exercise, and then have dinner… Only to go do it again the next day.
The Indian, Ayurvedic doctor looked at me and said the words that changed my life, “Go home and have a big, warm, cooked, relaxing meal in the middle of the day, and you will never have high blood pressure again.”
I begged for an Ayurvedic pill to fix my blood pressure, but he refused. So, I took his advice. I re-arranged my schedule to take 1 and a 1/2 hours for lunch every day, and went home or out for a nice, relaxing main meal in the middle of the day—European style.
To my amazement, my blood pressure came down in a matter of weeks, and my afternoon comatose experience of exhaustion had all but disappeared. I was back, and all I did was change my lunchtime eating habits! “You’re kidding right?!” I thought to myself.
I was so excited by this that I began telling all of my patients about the magic of eating a big lunch. This was my first introduction to the power of Circadian Medicine. In fact, I did a handful of clinical studies with my patients who had high blood pressure, and I was convinced and deeply intrigued as to why this worked so well.
Enter Circadian Medicine and the Ayurvedic Clock
Fascinated with Ayurveda, in 1986, I moved to India, where I began my formal training in Ayurveda. Today, I teach at two Ayurvedic colleges in the U.S. and teach about the Ayurvedic Clock—the original Circadian Medicine. Between the hours of 10AM and 2PM, the body is better equipped to digest more food, more efficiently. This is called the Pitta time of day. This time of day is followed by the Vata time of day, between 2PM and 6PM, where the brain or nervous system is demanding the lion’s share of available nutrients and glucose.
If you do not fill the tank with fuel in the middle of the day, during the Pitta time, there will not be enough fuel to feed the brain and nervous system’s voracious appetite for fuel in the afternoon. This explained my 5PM after-work exhaustion, why people line up at Starbucks in the early afternoon, and why chocolate and sweets are feasted on in the afternoon in offices around the world.
This afternoon crash is a sign that blood sugar levels are dropping, and the brain is responding to that as a life-threatening emergency. If the emergency comes every day, soon the emergency stress will begin to break the body down in the way we are all individually predisposed to break down. For me, it was high blood pressure.
Today, I am VERY proud to say that I have very low blood pressure, and have for years! The morning I wrote this, I was 113/65–which is pretty much my typical BP these days, and sometimes it is even lower. Over the years, I have added additional strategies to optimize my blood pressure—see below.
Dr. John’s Blood Pressure Maintenance Program
- Eat your main meal midday and relax, take time and enjoy it.
- Test your vitamin D3 levels, as levels are believed to be associated with normal blood pressure levels. (2)
- Turmeric Plus – Turmeric has also been shown to support blood pressure levels already within the normal range in animal models. (3)
- Exercise every day, and breathe through your nose while doing so. (4)
- Meditate at least once per day, even for just one minute. (5, 6)
- Melatonin is also a powerful blood pressure-lowering agent. (7) Only small dosages are needed for a circadian reset. Consider long-term use if you are over the age of 50—when the body naturally lowers melatonin production.