Chapter 14: Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is the force of the circulating blood in our arteries. It is measured with two numbers. The top represents the systolic pressure. It is the pressure in the arteries as the heart contracts and pumps out blood. The bottom number, diastolic pressure, is measured when our heart is in between beats. It represents the pressure in the arteries while the heart takes in blood from the veins.
When we have normal blood pressure, the blood flows freely to supply all of our capillaries with nutrients. Picture your capillaries as a big net. They branch off from the arteries. Their job is to assist in exchanging water, oxygen, nutrients, carbon dioxide, and other waste products between our blood and our tissues. The nutrients we take in are supplied to our tissue via the capillaries. The capillaries then transport the cell waste products (CO2) to the veins, which then transport the products back to the heart. This waste is then disposed of via exhalation.
When the heart pumps blood through the arteries, the arteries physically move. This helps ensure good blood circulation. Our veins, on the other hand, require stimulation to move. If we exercise, our veins move because the neighboring muscles move. This gets the blood back to the heart quicker and makes for a healthier blood pressure.
A healthy blood pressure makes for a healthy web of capillaries. Did you know that your body contains about 100,000 kilometers of blood vessels? Every 46 seconds, all of our blood circulates throughout the entire body. The health of our capillaries, and how efficiently they work, is measured by diastolic blood pressure. If the pressure measurement is low, it means that the veins and capillaries are working very efficiently in returning the blood to the heart. If not enough blood is sent to the capillary network, our systolic number measure will be high. If this continues, the capillaries will shrink.
So what can we do to keep our blood pressure in check? Eat healthy, breath right, and exercise. This keeps the blood flowing efficiently both to and from your heart.
Let’s switch gears a bit. Caucasus is currently a region of the countries Georgia and Azerbaijan. In 1978, many people in that region lived to be 100 years old or older. They did not have hardened arteries, high blood pressure, or diabetes. In fact, the median systolic blood pressure in the Caucasus region was in the 120’s, and the diastolic blood pressure was between 72 and 90. These are good numbers that younger people must strive for. Why were their numbers so good? They ate natural foods, ate the proper amounts, and exercised.
With such good blood pressure, your heart does not have to work extra hard to pump the blood throughout the body. High blood pressure and hardened arteries means that the blood vessels are clogged up, much like the inside of a metal pipe that is obstructed with gunk. When arteries become hard and stiffen up, this will, eventually lead to death. In contrast, if your arteries are flexible, this means that you have good blood flow.
Picture a garden hose as one of your arteries, and water as your blood. When you turn the water on in the summer, it fills up the hose and the hose moves around fairly easily. You can water your flowers on one side of your house, then walk to your garden with hose in hand and use it there, too. It is easy to take it with you, and is not stiff. This is what good arteries are like. But, what happens if you forget to drain and disconnect the hose from the house and winter comes? It will not move, period. If you turn the water on in the winter, the water cannot pass through the hose. If you want to keep the hose working properly, you must keep it out of the cold, make sure you repair any leaks, coil it up when you are not using it, and treat it well. How do you maintain good arteries? You keep them clean by eating the proper foods and exercising. It is very simple. If you do these things, you have a good chance of living to be a hundred years old.