High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is quite common with around a third of adults in the UK, suffering from the condition. The only way to find out for sure what your levels are is to have your blood pressure checked. The ideal reading is considered to be between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg, according to the NHS. Dr Mosley has explained how to lower a high reading.
Dr Mosley described a recent study that looked at the best ways to reduce hypertension.
The evidence suggests that doing a short fast should do the trick. Fasting like this can give good bacteria in your gut a boost.
The study published in the journal Nature Communications looked at 71 overweight volunteers with raised blood pressure.
These participants were put into two groups, in which both were asked to follow a Mediterranean-style diet for three months.
This type of diet packs a variety of nuts, fruits, vegetables and oily fish.
Apart from following this diet, one of the two groups was also asked to start with a five-day fast, when they ate only 350 calories a day.
The researchers’ main goal was to investigate the effect of dietary changes on gut bacteria.
They did this by taking regular stool samples of the participants.
Referring to the research, Dr Mosley said: “Fascinatingly, the fasting group had massively boosted levels of certain ‘good’ bacteria that produce powerful anti-inflammatory compounds.
“The really striking finding was that this group experienced far more benefits.
“They not only lost more weight, but their blood pressure improved so much that nearly half were able to dramatically reduce their medication.”
The research team has pinned these benefits down to the anti-inflammatory compounds produced by fasting.
The doctor recommended trying a slightly different approach for those trying this for the first time.
He said: “If you’re tempted to try something similar, talk to your doctor first — particularly if you are on medication.
“Sticking to 350 calories a day, even if it is just for five days, is challenging.
“You might find my 5:2, intermittent fasting approach (where you reduce your calories to 800 just two days of the week, then eat normally), less demanding.”
This 5:2 approach is also verified by research as a trial from Surrey University found that this type of diet compared to a standard diet is “significantly better” at reducing blood pressure.