Fasting has been around for a while. From ancient times to date, people across all walks imbibe this practice at one point or another for different purposes, whether intentionally or not.
However, recently, it has gained heightened popularity for its health benefits, such as weight loss, decreased risk of heart problems and high blood sugar, etc.
Do you also want to try out this fasting formula but have reservations because of hypo or hypertension?
This article details intermittent fasting, its connection to blood pressure, its effects, and if you should try it.
Time-restricted eating is the hallmark of intermittent fasting. An example will be eating for a seven-hour window and refraining from any form of consumption for the remaining 15 hours. The practitioner chooses their diet plan and schedules it accordingly. This form of fasting has little to do with the actual foods you eat but more with its timing. However, an excellent dietary plan can drastically improve its effects.
You may find using it necessary to lose weight and increase your rate of fat burn or ketosis processes. You may also opt for intermittent fasting to improve focus and clarity. Whatever the reason is, it stands that there are many benefits attached to this practice you may want to take advantage of.
Intermittent fasting follows a schedule where you eat and fast within a time period. Here are the most common:
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Blood pressure, in literal terms, is the pressure with which blood flows through the body’s circulatory system. It is a vital part of human functioning, closely intertwined with the force of the heartbeat, the rate it beats, and the arterial walls’ elasticity. Thus, it is frequently measured to ensure its stability.
When measured, there are three possible results it can show; normal, low, or high. Healthy blood pressure has a systolic pressure (first number) of 120 or less and a diastolic pressure (second number) of 80 or less. Anything above these ranges is considered elevated. As the number increases, it leads to high blood pressure (hypertension).
Aside from the normal range, the others spell serious health problems for the body, including cardiac problems and heart disease.
Low blood pressure (hypotension) implies the blood movement rate throughout the body is lower. This will affect its purpose of carrying sufficient oxygen, nutrients, white blood cells, etc., to them. Ridding toxic waste in the body also becomes an issue.
In the same way, high blood pressure will incur problems like a higher risk of heart attacks as the heart is working too hard to pump. This will lead to further strain and breakdown, vastly deteriorating health.
The most common reason for high blood pressure is obesity. Excess weight gain brings many physical and hormonal changes to the body and contributes highly to the risk of hypertension. It prompts the sympathetic nervous system to go into overdrive, increasing insulin resistance, inflammation, etc.
Presently, there is no once and for all solution to blood pressure issues. Hypotension is usually not much of an issue, except you start experiencing symptoms. However, high blood pressure comes with high constant risk. Hence, medical professionals make it easily manageable via medications and lifestyle recommendations.
These may include maintaining a healthy weight, having a good diet, avoiding stress, exercising, etc. Luckily, intermittent fasting aligns with some lifestyle changes doctors frequently recommend.x
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Many research studies indicate that fasting can help lower blood pressure. It can also concurrently reduce cholesterol and diabetic symptoms and increase weight loss.
A study by Yunus Erdem et al. in 2018 showed the results of 60 people who underwent blood pressure measurement before and during rounds of intermittent fasting. The testing results showed good decreases in ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM) and systolic blood pressure (SBP). A relatively short study time of 24 hours but of good reference.
For longer and more detailed research, there is a large observatory study of 1422 participants, each undergoing fasting for an alternating length of time (4-21 days). These subjects were observed closely, and the cumulative results spanned one year.
The results favored good decreases in blood pressure across the test subjects and a decrease in weight and abdominal fat. There was also improvement in the health of a percentage of those involved and a decrease in blood glucose. Note that there were certain controlled parameters during this time. These include their food (calorie) intake, lifestyle (moderate intensity), etc., contributing to the outcome. The blood pressure results did not lower below the average healthy numbers, implying intermittent fasting may not lower the blood pressure than is okay (floor effect).
In another controlled study of 12 weeks, 32 participants fasted using the alternate-day fasting regimen. Their findings point to a positive effect on weight loss and reduced risk of cardio heart diseases, of which blood pressure is a top factor.
Another research study from the journal of cell metabolism in 2020 shows that fasting intermittently can help overweight and obese women suffering from metabolic syndrome. This syndrome intertwines with having excess weight, high blood pressure, and sugar. The result was lower blood pressure and less chronic inflammation, similar to many other studies
Conclusively, there is a high enough chance that intermittent fasting can reduce hypertension. Below are a few ways intermittent fasting is thought to improve blood pressure.
One of the most common goals of intermittent fasting is weight loss which has been established severally to be effective.
It helps with reducing insulin production and burning fat. How does this affect blood pressure? One leading cause of high BP is obesity.
People who are obese are more likely to develop high blood pressure problems. So, suppose you can tackle this pressing issue by fasting intermittently. In that case, you place your heart and overall health in a better position.
Another way it works to affect blood pressure is through the rest and digest state. When it comes to the activity rate, many of us are complacent since we are used to a sedentary lifestyle. This can significantly reduce the rate of our body’s metabolism.
Intermittent fasting gives your body sufficient enough time to digest and process all of its intake before introducing new consumables. The body is wired to use its fat reserves whenever needed. Prolonging the difference between meal times will give your body enough time to digest and burn fat.
Another way it could lower blood pressure is by reshaping gut biodata, as reported by Baylor college of medicine. However, there is conflicting evidence that gut biodata has any direct influence on blood pressure. While more information and scientific evidence are needed, the report shows that in animal models, intermittent fasting can eliminate hypertension.
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So far, few adverse effects have been reported, and many studies have researched intermittent fasting to be safe and tolerable for most. However, it may be a little hard for a beginner to follow through. Still, as with most cases, it becomes easier to adjust over time. Some side effects you may experience at the start are mild dizziness, nausea, and cravings.
It is a consensus amongst the medical community that fasting is not safe for everyone. Pregnant women and nursing mothers should be careful when fasting. Moreover, children and the aged (older than 65) are not among those fasting is recommended for.
Similarly, suppose you have a history of eating disorders. In that case, you should refrain from fasting as it can actively trigger or worsen it.
As stated, intermittent fasting can lower blood pressure over time. While most studies report a floor effect, it is yet to be ascertained. Thus, the reduction in blood pressure effect may not spell good for you if you already have hypotensive problems.
However, this doesn’t apply if you have high blood pressure, as it has little to no known negative effect on it. Instead, it can significantly improve the condition of your health, including that of your heart, lowering pressure.
If you are hypertensive due to obesity, it becomes an especially good route to help control it. This is because it can take care of the root cause and symptoms concurrently.
First, while some medications you can take on an empty stomach, prescriptions usually come in a mix. Further, some medicines, while taken on fasts, can cause further complications, especially when done regularly. Thus, a general rule is to avoid taking it while on intermittent fasts, especially for those that work with alternate days restriction. If you are on medications, avoid intermittent fasting unless you have the go-ahead from your doctor.
With all health-related and body improvement solutions, paying attention to two factors is essential. These are nutrition and body activity in the form of exercise. Poor nutrition and inactivity are contributing causes of higher risks of hypertension. Thus, experts recommend incorporating good nutrition and medium-range activities into your lifestyle.
Intermittent fasting will work best with proper dietary balance. After all, with fasting, you are generally consuming a lesser amount of food than usual. It is, therefore, important to ensure those meals are of value to you. Steps you can take to achieve this include meal planning and healthy eating.
You can introduce more minerals like magnesium, potassium, calcium, etc. And ditch the sodium by lowering the salt content of your foods. Adjusting your nutrition will speed up the time run to meet your intermittent fasting goals while also helping to put your blood pressure under control.
You should eat more green leafy vegetables, nuts, beans, and protein. Moreover, choose fish rich in omega-3 and lean beef or pork. You can still enjoy poultry by eating eggs or skinless turkey or chicken.
For dairy, you can opt for low-dairy or fat-free yogurts and cheese. Stay away from saturated fats, fast food, and junk food. Intermittent fasting works best when you eat the right food.
For this, there are many fasting regimes. One is the 24-hour process with a certain amount of eating time and fast time factored into each day (24 hrs)—for example, a 10-hour consumption window and a 14-hour food restriction (fast) or a 16:8.
Another intermittent fasting option is the daily alternative fast, which will require a higher level of discipline. You can eat to fill the day and then fast the next. There are also other fast options you can choose from.
Of course, this is only the surface information on them. Besides, all fasting regimens may not work the same for you. It is vital to find a schedule that fits you. If you are picking an intermittent fast routine, we recommend you do in-depth research and choose one that fits you best and improves as you go.
Another important step is to consult your doctor before you proceed. Apart from blood pressure, there are other things to be careful about when venturing into intermittent fasting.
Intermittent fasting is an awesome way to improve your lifestyle and overall health. It works best when you choose one that suits you from the many regimes and pair it well with proper nutrition. It is beneficial in losing weight, improving metabolism, insulin production, blood sugar control, etc.
With blood pressure, intermittent fasting can help lower it, helping control hypertension and protecting heart health. However, there are clauses as to its viability for many intending users.
Moreover, pregnant women and nursing mothers, those below 18 and above 65, be careful or avoid it. Moreover, those taking or are under strong medications should refrain from IF.
IF is not for those experiencing low blood pressure or other chronic health issues. If you intend to practice intermittent fasting, we recommend you get a clear signal from your attending physician before proceeding.
(oh, and do keep in touch and check in with us regularly for more fantastic content. For a complete list of our previous blog posts, please go here)
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