High blood pressure and alcohol? Does drinking help or cause more problems? An elderly friend of mine once told me that her doctor said she should taking a glass of red wine every day because it was good for her heart.

That delighted her a great deal resulting in her establishing a routine in no time for taking her daily elixir. On the other hand, however, patients have been told by their doctors not to consume alcohol because it is one of the common high blood pressure causes that will not only elevate it but do all sorts of other underlying damage.Are you confused? Why is such widely contradictory advice given to patients. What are we to believe? Most of us would like to choose the former, but fear the latter. A brief look at some facts should do the trick, dispel any fears, or at least help us to get things into perspective.

Changes in French Cultural Drinking Habits. Why?

Do you like a glass or two? Or perhaps you live in France where the cultural habit of consuming wine at mealtimes has molded your thinking. Well some changes have taking place especially with the younger generation.The Telegraph.co.uk reported that the French market for alcohol is in decline although it still remains the largest consumer. The trend is towards having water at mealtimes because, as it puts it, “Many adults, particularly the younger generation, are becoming increasingly health-conscious and as a result have switched partly or entirely to non-alcoholic drinks.” (Italics are mine)So it looks as if the French are now becoming more aware that health is more important than culture. This information surprisingly flies in the face of those who like to quote the “French Paradox” which highlights that although the French diet is high in fat and alcohol, death through heart disease is very low. But doesn`t cause and effect speak the loudest? Yes it does!

High Blood Pressure and Alcohol –

Can a Safe Daily Limit be Beneficial?

It seems to be. May 2009 the BBC News 24 (bbc.co.uk) published the results of a 6 year Danish study to the effects of alcohol on heart disease. There was found to be a significant 41% reduction in the risk of CHD in men who drank small amounts on a daily basis in comparison to only 7% in those who drank only once a week.

To be noted though, before you guys out there go tripping off to buy your supplies, this test was carried out with people aged 50 – 65. Sorry! And you girls, well the dreaded hormones may be to blame as usual, or it may be simply the fact that our metabolism is different. Apparently, there was no real significant change to the risks in women who partook of alcoholic beverages rarely, compared to those who had small amounts daily. In fact there is less risk for us ladies if we drink wine once a week than on a daily basis, or hardly ever.

Even so, seriously, we need to exercise caution when consuming alcohol. If you are healthy and want to avoid high blood pressure or heart disease, stick to the units allowed. 4 units daily for men, which is roughly about 2 ½ glasses of wine, and 3 units for women, which is about 2 small glasses of wine.

For those of us not so healthy, or older than 65, this subject of high blood pressure and alcohol comes with a warning attached. What warning? The effects of drinking even the recommended limit can have a direct narrowing of blood vessels, trigger the fight or flight syndrome or the release of hormones in the adrenaline glands, causing the blood pressure to rise even higher.

The pH Balance and Alcohol

Have you heard the saying, “You are what you eat”? That is so true when it comes to the “potential hydrogen” balance of your body fluids known as the pH balance. On a scale of 14, your natural pH balance is about 7.5, 7 being neutral.

All food and drink are either acid or alkaline; therefore you need to balance your diet to keep your bodies in a slightly alkaline (base) condition. Alcohol is an acid beverage, so too much can wreck havoc, especially in the blood circulatory system causing excessive free radical damage. Drinking more than the recommended limit can put strain on the kidneys which help regulate blood pressure.

Numerous studies have also shown the importance of potassium on blood pressure. If your body is constantly trying to rid the body of acidic ash it will steal potassium, sodium, calcium or magnesium from bones and organs and use them as a buffer, creating a potassium and sodium deficiency. Your body needs potassium and sodium in balance to keep the blood in an alkaline state and regulate blood pressure. A lack of them will elevate it and cause organs to malfunction.Here’s a tip I picked up during my research on high blood pressure and alcohol:

Drink lots of water after consuming it to help flush the excess acid from your system.

Drinking in Moderation can lower systolic blood pressureIf you suffer from hypertension and are prone to over-indulgence, according to the Mayo Clinic, cutting down to the recommended limit will reduce you systolic blood pressure by 2- 4 points and your diastolic pressure by 1 – 2 points.

Doctors don`t like to confuse their patients or to give them the ok to something that might harm them if they over indulge, so they usually tell their patients just to avoid certain habits altogether if there is a chance it could harm them. That`s not such a bad idea if they are aware of a patient`s low self-control, but if you are a person moderate in habits, then there is no reason to abstain. Just be careful! It looks like the French are getting it right anyhow in their drinking habits…….. Au Perrier!

This page on high blood pressure and alcohol highlights just one cause of high blood pressure.

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