Food for Thought
What’s blood got to do with it?
Published Thursday, 10-Jun-2010 in issue 1172
Not surprisingly...everything. What’s in it, how it’s comprised, how it’s hydrated and how it’s pressurized, are but a few of the “to do with its.” Let’s focus on the latter, the pressurization of your blood. Blood pressure is one of those silent killers, responsible for a host of illnesses from cardio vascular disease to aneurisms and strokes. It is silent, in that you really can’t feel your blood pressure to know if it’s within acceptable ranges, without regular testing. 120 over 80 have long been the established norm values for blood pressure. But what’s in those numbers? Take the 120 number for example. That number represents your systolic blood pressure (SBP). Now, what does that mean? Now add in the lower number, the diastolic blood pressure (DBP) of 80, and it gets more confusing. Here is a simple explanation:
First imagine your arteries, those are the blood vessels that carry oxygenated blood away from your heart, now imagine them as long skinny balloons. When your heart contracts to force blood through your system, that force exerts a pressure on that skinny balloon. SBP is the pressure exerted on your arteries in the contraction phase of the heart. That pressure should be no greater than 120. Once the heart contracts, it next relaxes to begin the back and forth contract/relax process over and over again...the beating of your heart. It’s in the relaxation phase that the DBP is measured. It should be no greater than 80.
Now let’s take this skinny balloon concept and repeatedly inflate it. Now deflate it, blow it up again, deflate it again, but now really blow it up, that’s right fatten it up, now deflate it and do that over and over again. At some point this balloon could develop a weak spot, particularly susceptible in these latter more significant inflations, as more stress is placed on it, as it gets overstretched and then under relaxed again and, again. Your vascular system works the same way. This over pressurization can wear away the inner lining of the vessel itself. 170/90, 180/100, 190/110 and eventually, a risk of breaking the balloon comes in to play.
So what to do? Use diet and exercise to ensure you are within your healthy weight range for your height. Have regular checkups with your doctor. On the diet side, look at your sodium intake. If you eat a lot of processed or canned foods and/or dine out often, chances are your sodium intake is high. High sodium intake can be correlated to heightened BP. The Daily Recommended Value for sodium is 2,400 mg, which is 2.4 grams. A teaspoon is roughly 4.2 grams, depending what’s in the teaspoon, as “grams” refer to weight, and a teaspoon refers to volume. For example, a teaspoon of sugar weighs about 4.2 grams, but the same teaspoon full of salt comes in at about 6 grams. Take a pair of dice. Set one aside, then cut the other in about half. Roughly, that is the portion size of your daily sodium intake. Tiny huh?
Want to learn more? Fitness Together will hold a free Healthy Eating and Wellness seminars on Monday, June 28, and on the fourth Monday of every month, at the Mission Hills Community Center at 902 Ft Stockton. We provide valuable healthy eating tips as well as insights into your own body composition and metabolism. Call Fitness Together at (619) 794 0014 for more information.