Detox and blood pressure
High blood pressure is one of the most common causes of premature death worldwide, affecting an estimated 1.39 billion people. Fortunately, high blood pressure can often be improved and even reversed with the correct intervention.
If you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure (hypertension), you may be researching ways to reduce your blood pressure to a healthy range without relying on medication.
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What is a detox diet?
A detox diet is aimed at removing ‘toxins’ from the body to make a person healthier. They may be accompanied by celebrity endorsements and claim any number of health benefits, from promoting weight loss to curing cancer.
A detox diet may involve:
- Cutting out certain foods
- Only drinking liquids
- Only eating at certain times of the day (fasting)
- Taking supplements
The effectiveness and even safety of this type of diet varies, but doctors often advise against following highly restrictive diets, particularly if they focus on unidentified ‘toxins’. There is no scientific evidence that our bodies need to ‘detox’, as the body is designed to repair itself and filter out unneeded waste products.
Strictly cutting out certain foods may provide the desired outcome in the short term, but these effects are often short-lived or reversed once a person returns to a regular diet. If followed for long periods of time, a restrictive detox diet can cause malnutrition, unhealthy eating habits, and long-term health problems.
Can a detox diet reduce blood pressure?
Some types of detox diets promote ‘clean’ eating, focusing on whole foods like fruits, vegetables, wholegrains and lean proteins while reducing or eliminating the intake of processed foods, sugar and alcohol.
This type of diet could be a good option if you’re looking to detox to reduce blood pressure. Clean eating supports blood pressure regulation because it is high in heart-healthy nutrients, and low in foods that can cause blood pressure to increase.
A diet-led approach to reducing blood pressure can deliver results without the need for medication, but you should discuss this with your doctor first. If you’re looking to reduce your blood pressure, they will be able to advise you on a safe and healthy diet to follow, that will meet your nutritional needs.
DASH detox diet for high blood pressure
The DASH diet was developed to reduce high blood pressure without the need for medication.
Unlike many popular detox diets for weight loss, the DASH diet is supported by nutritional research. It works by focusing on heart-healthy foods and reducing the intake of foods that are known to increase the risk of high blood pressure.
This diet involves eating foods that are rich in:
It also limits foods with high levels of:
- Saturated fat
- Added sugar
If you’re looking to detox in order to reduce your high blood pressure, the DASH diet is a good option. As it is not a heavily restrictive diet, it ensures that your body receives the nutrients it needs and is a sustainable way of eating that can promote healthy blood pressure in the long term.
Can an alcohol detox reduce high blood pressure?
Alcohol consumption has been shown to increase blood pressure, although the reasons behind this aren’t entirely understood. One known factor is the high sugar content, which can increase the amount of fat in the bloodstream and increase the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure.
Drinking alcohol increases blood pressure temporarily, and the effects usually wear off once the liver has processed the alcohol. However, long-term heavy drinking and binge drinking may cause a person to develop chronic high blood pressure.
Whatever the end goal, detox diets often involve cutting out alcohol, which in turn may help to reduce blood pressure either on a short- or long-term basis. Whether an alcohol detox for high blood pressure is effective, depends on the underlying cause of hypertension in an individual. Cutting out alcohol on its own is unlikely to have a dramatic effect on blood pressure.
Regular blood pressure monitoring
Regularly checking your blood pressure is key to staying on track and will help you to see whether the changes you have made to your diet are working.
Our blood pressure monitor buying guide is a great resource for those looking to keep an eye on their blood pressure from the comfort of their own home.
Disclaimer: If you have high blood pressure and are planning a detox diet, we encourage you to speak with a healthcare professional.
The global epidemiology of hypertension, February 5, 2020 – https://www.nature.com/articles-s41581-019-0244-2
Detox diets for toxin elimination and weight management, December 28, 2015 – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25522674
Alcohol-induced hypertension, May 26, 2014 – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/articles-PMC4038773