- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
Lower Your Blood Pressure With One Change In Your LIfe
Salt And Your BP
Salt - The Good, Bad & Ugly
First, let me say that salt does NOT increase the blood pressure of all people. Only certain people are affected. Others are not. No matter what doctors says about reducing or eliminating your salt intake to eliminate high blood pressure, that may or may not be a valid statement for you personally. Of course, if you have BP problems, try reducing your salt content for at least a month and see what happens. If salt affects it and reduction helps, then go for it. And this blog entry is for you!
The body actually needs a certain amount of salt to function properly. Table salt is made of sodium iodine and the body needs a little of each. Excess of anything is not good for the body but they are beneficial elements of nature that the body needs a little of.
Previous generations of Americans, those born before 1940, many times had dietary salt deprivation (lack of salt) and one result back then was the "goiter" (pronounced Goy-Ter). A goiter looked like a cancerous growth under the skin of the neck but was actually not typically cancerous. It was "elephantitis" or extremely huge growth of the thyroid and adrenal glands because of lack of iodine from salt during the person's formative years. If it went unchecked and salt was not consumed, a goiter could become so large that it might be bigger than the person's head. A goiter could be golf ball size to basketball size. As you can see, this is thyroid malfunction and other factors of life, such as energy level, would also be affected.
My aunt had a goiter but it was contained fairly early in life because she moved from Appalachian poverty in her early years to marrying a factory worker with a good income that allowed them to eat everything they wanted and resolve her salt deficiency. Her goiter was small enough that her neck just seemed like a fat baggy neck with one lower section near the chest being a bit larger and more solid than the upper neck. She seemed to have a 3-inch high tire wrapped around her neck under the skin.
An old woman living near my grandparents, about 10 miles north of my childhood home, had a terrible goiter that essentially ruined her life. She was in her 60s when I was 10 years old and owned a general store in a tiny little village of maybe 100 residents. It's my understand that she never left her yard and relatives brought her used clothing and other items required to live. Stock for the store was delivered.
As a 10 year old I was easily frightened by really abnormal things. One day she was sitting in a yard chair in front of the store and her goiter was as big as a basketball under the neck skin and her neck in general was twice as big as her head because of it. It seemed that the goiter pulled her head forward and rested on her chest. As a child that scared me to death and afterward I would make sure I was looking out the window of the opposite side of the car as we passed there - whether it was yard-sitting weather or winter time. When I got to the age of driving tractors and farm trucks I made sure to drive other routes to my destinations. Even today, when she's probably been dead for 40+ years I never drive on that road.
Now adays because of the excess of salt available in every kind of food in the U.S. I haven't seen a goiter, or even the start of a golf ball sized goiter on anyone in the U.S. for decades. They may still exist in Appalachian poverty or at poor Indian Reservations but otherwise the problem is gone in the U.S. as far as I'm aware.
My wife is from the Philippines and I visited there twice before she came to the U.S. I saw goiters there but that was in the poverty-stricken farming regions of a third world country where conditions are roughly the same as pre-1900 America when you struggled "hand to mouth" to survive and lived on bare essentials. They don't have eat mass-produced canned and frozen foods with preservatives and sodium-iodine salt (many don't have refrigerators or nearby grocery stores) but they do enjoy the taste of salt which is used sparingly for taste. They unknowingly reduce the number of goiters in their population by having a desire to taste salt and getting a box occasionally while being in-town to buy rice and other staples.
Hidden Where You Don't Expect It
I'm shocked that nobody has caught this one easy change in life to reduce blood pressure and doctors have no clue about it. I've never seen it mentioned in any book or on TV in my life. I have a friend who is now in his mid-70s and he learned this simple method by accident. One month later his BP was down 40+ points and he reduced it even more after that. I've followed his advice and have absolutely no BP problems as I turn 60 this month. I'm overweight, eat whatever I want, and my BP stays at normal or slightly below. Assuming you are sensitive to salt and your blood pressure is affected, this change in life is for you.
Everybody uses water for cooking and consumes at least some water or beverages made with water. Most people would never link blood pressure to drinking water. Here's the situation...
Water Softening Adds Salt To Your Water
Despite what water softener manufacturers and softener salt manufacturers say, sodium leaches into your drinking water if it is softened along with the rest of the water in your home. A few years back I found out that most city water systems also soften water for the benefit of residents and reduction of scale buildup in the city's piping system.
I can, with no test results of any kind, guarantee that residuals of softening chemicals remain in your water after the process is completed. My friend's accidental 40+ point BP reduction proves it. My lack of BP problems while drinking distilled water for the last 20 years backs his discovery up. Our homes were in an area where we all had wells. We were far enough from the nearby town with a water system that the piping didn't extend out to us.
There are two kinds of wells - point wells which are shallow and depend on plentiful surface water that exists about 10 to 20 feet below the ground and deep wells that are typically 75 to 200 feet deep. Deep wells depend on underground aquifers, underground rivers and streams, and other deep sources of water. I had a shallow point well and my friend had a deep well.
My shallow well had particles of contaminants in it that were large enough to see, which is typical for a point well, so I started buying distilled water soon after moving there. I couldn't even wash a dark car with hose water because it left a white film that wasn't removed by the drying rag and the car had to be waxed each time to remove the white fog.
Well contaminants may just be natural minerals or unwanted microbials that are not desirable. In either case, I didn't want to ingest them. Rain water and other run off waters go into the ground and are naturally filtered by the layers of dirt, sand, and slate as it soaks in. By the time the water reaches the open end of the point well pipe, it has been somewhat filtered. In the old days when there were virtually no man-made contaminants a point well was perfectly acceptable.
A deep well has less contaminants because it has a lot more dirt, sand, and slate layers between the surface and the water sources. The water sources being underground aquifers (essentially an underground pond or lake), streams, and rivers also flow and bring water from afar - sometimes for miles. That is water filtered by the earth before going into the stream of flow, then it is filtered further as contaminants drop out of the water during its travels. The deep well water historically seemed cleaner to look at and drink but could still carry some contaminants and the water also picked up more iron and sulfur as it traveled. Calcium and magnesium are two contaminants that make water what is known as "hard."
Somewhere along the line, water softeners and filtration systems came along. Filtering all water in a house is cost prohibitive but softening it with cheap salt is not. A water softener uses "resin beads" or a chemical called Zeolite to "draw hardness" out of water. One of three types of salt (sodium chloride), which always included sodium as an ingredient, were poured into the softener tank where the beads reside in a separate canister. Calcium and magnesium were drawn to the beads and sodium from the softener salt pellets went into the water to replace calcium and magnesium. Sodium alone doesn't taste salty in your water but it is still half of the two elements that make up salt. Softened water seems smoother to the tongue, slippery on the skin, and some contaminants are removed that makes the water taste somewhat cleaner. Soaps foam much better when calcium and magnesium are removed. Skin is smoother after a bath or shower using soft water. Hard water causes soap scum in your shower or bathtub. It causes problems with laundry. It's just not good for cleaning projects of any kind.
More recently potassium chloride is being used for water softeners although it is more expensive than sodium chloride. Thus people who could and should use potassium chloride don't because sodium chloride is cheaper. Potassium is a natural element as well but, unlike sodium, it is typically good for you in many ways unless taken in excess as a supplemental tablet.
In any case, the best way to use a water softener would be to only soften water that will be used for cleaning and laundering, baths, toilets, car washing, and other external uses. Install a softener system on a pipe that leads to the hot water heater and to all cold water faucets in bathrooms and utility rooms that won't be used for drinking. You should know that while scale buildup inside pipes will be reduced by sodium chloride softening, sodium chloride is the same salt used for salting snow and ice on roadways. It eats the bottom side of cars because it is corrosive. It will also eat your metal house plumbing while potassium chloride doesn't.
Cold water for drinking should come direct from one's water pump (before the softener unit can affect the water) straight to a "reverse osmosis" and/or multi-stage charcoal filtering processes that do not add sodium and then to the kitchen cold water faucet where drinking water is usually drawn. This will provide your family with a drinking water free of contaminants or additional chemicals - especially sodium.
My friend switched from well water to purchased bottled distilled water and one month later his BP was down 40+ points - which no medicine or other dietary change was capable of accomplishing. The next month it went down more but not as much. He never went back to drinking well water and lives a healthy life of bicycling and walking with a sensible sodium-reduced but not sodium-free diet and distilled drinking water - with NO BP medication at all.
Be careful with bottled water. Read the labels of various brands and you'll find that some say, "With natural minerals added for taste." which to me is total idiocy. The point of buying bottled water is to avoid contaminants and minerals. But you will find many brands that don't say that and minerals are NOT added for any reason. Those are the ones to buy. You get plenty of beneficial minerals from food and vitamin supplements. There's no reason to add unknown minerals into your drinking water.
Being on a city water system doesn't protect you though. They also soften their water. Two minerals, lime (Ca(OH)2) and soda ash (Na2CO3), are typically used to soften public water supplies. The solids generated by the water-softening process are removed by letting them settle by gravity and removing the sediment or by a filtration process. Some unused hydroxide ions will remain in the water after the calcium is removed resulting in a high pH level. If necessary the pH can be lowered by bubbling carbon dioxide gas through the water. Lots of other chemicals are added to city water for filtering, purification, sediment and parasite removal, etc. You may notice, if you live in the city, that your water sometimes smells like a swimming pool because of excess chlorine, which is bleach. These chemicals are not necessarily beneficial to you if you consume them daily although they may not present health problems you recognize for years as they build up in your body.
Some tests and studies show that chlorine in city water causes difficulty for those pre-disposed to respiratory problems and taking showers in chlorinated water that releases chlorine vapors as it exits a shower head.
The perfect solution is still to use reverse osmosis and carbon filtering to remove everything you can from your drinking water. There are a number of filters on the market - whole house, under sink, and faucet mounted.
I spent many years and a lot of money buying distilled water in grocery stores at prices of 69 cents to $1.00 per gallon. Four years ago I moved from a ground level home to an upstairs apartment and decided that carrying 50 to 100 pounds of water up two flights of stairs every week was quite boring and a lot of work. So I bought a $25 faucet-mounted two-stage filter system and haven't carried a bottle of water upstairs since then.
Are the filters expensive? Yes. You're probably looking at $11 per filter on a faucet-mounted unit that lasts about 200 gallons. But that's also only 5.5 cents per gallon - a lot less expensive than $1 a gallon of pre-bottled water. Even if your water is totally filthy and the filter only lasted 100 gallons, that's still only 11 cents a gallon!
Any major name brand filter will reduce contaminants by 98% or higher. You probably don't get that level of purification in bottled water so the filter has a second advantage. For purposes of this blog, a filter system takes all contaminants out of your water, whether its well water or city water.
This means that softening of well water handles the hardness of your externally used water and straight unsoftened well water can go directly to your filter system for drinking purposes.
The softening of city water is handled by your city's water system and the filter system on your kitchen faucet rids the city water of all residue and chemicals, no matter what they are. Again you have perfect drinking water that doesn't raise your blood pressure or otherwise harm you.
That's it. Who would have thought that drinking water can raise blood pressure?