High Blood Pressure And Keto – Yikes!

I’m in a pickle. I have high blood pressure. I’ve had it for years. My mother had it. I don’t know about my grandparents. Mom was always told to take meds and cut back on salt. Like me, though, there was no way she was going to give up bacon and ham. She died of lung cancer, but her blood pressure was very high as well.

Over the last few months, I’ve been very concerned about all the meds I’m on. Let me back up. 5 years ago, I had my first stroke. It wasn’t a big one, but it was really scary. My mind was a mess. I couldn’t even hold an intelligent conversation. I could understand everything people said to me, but I couldn’t formulate a response. I used to be really quick with my memory. I was good at trivia games and stuff like that. Suddenly, my memory was in the slow lane.

Over a couple of months, things got better, and I could at least hold a conversation, and preach a bit. I had to teach myself to prepare sermons and speak publicly. It was a gradual process. Honestly, I preach and teach completely differently than I did before my first stroke. It’s not the same at all.

Anyway, this time in 2017, late August, I had a heart attack, and had two strokes while in hospital. It was so scary. Eventually, after much trial and testing, I had open heart surgery in June of 2018. The reason I didn’t die from the strokes was because of a birth defect. One of my arteries, doesn’t flow from the heart. It is attached to one of the other arteries. How weird is that? But because of the way my heart valves are misformed, one artery was not blocked. It attached to the other one before the blockage. God was looking out for me.

Anyway, while I was on the table, having triple bypass surgery, I had another stroke. Fortunately, and obviously, I didn’t die. I am, however, partially blind in my left eye.

While I was waiting for surgery, I was put on blood pressure meds, including a statin, and also a blood thinner. I was also given dihydracodeine for my very serious sciatica. I was told I could take 4 of those a day. I only take one, at night, an hour before bed.

After all that background, here’s the point. It’s been three years since my surgery. I’ve lost over 50 pounds., thanks to Keto. And I’m still taking every medication I was prescribed all that time ago. I don’t want to. I’m a believer in all things natural. These medications are not natural.

Here’s what I’m trying. First, I’m going to reduce my dihydracodeine to ½ a day. And try to wean myself off of it. It’s not very powerful, but it is an opioid. IMO, I should never have been kept on it this long. But because of Covid, I haven’t been able to see a doctor in person for almost 2 years.

For the BP meds, I’m going to start by reducing it to every other day, and monitor my blood pressure twice a day. Then I will quit the statin, followed by the Blood Pressure meds. Those, BTW, I discovered, have some side effects that are not good, including water retention, and brain fog.

I will eventually switch my blood thinner to a daily aspirin. I will also take my diuretic as needed.

Aspirin I trust. It’s natural. And I’m not worried about a diuretic.

I also have to make some adjustments to my diet. First, I need to start using more Olive Oil and less butter. I know butter works for Keto, and it tastes great. But it’s not the best for my blood pressure. I’m not going to switch to margarine, I’m just going to use more Olive oil for cooking. I’ll still put some butter on my cauliflower and my broccoli, fear not.

I have to cut back on cheese. This will be the hardest of all. Cheese is my favorite food. And it’s further ahead of every other food than Secretariat in the Belmont. I will switch to lower fat cheese, and varieties that are naturally lower in fat.

Also, I will reduce the amount of cream I eat. I know that is all contrary to Keto thinking, but sometimes health requires compromise. Besides, I need to cut my calories as I’m stuck on a long term plateau as far as weight loss is concerned. The scales won’t budge.

I’m also going to eat more berries, and a couple of bananas a week. Oh my word. I can hear people now, cancelling subscriptions to this blog. I’m still tracking my carbs, people. I’m just making adjustments so I can get off the meds.

I’m probably going to incorporate more apple cider vinegar, and some occasional citrus. I already drink very little alcohol, other than some red wine. Oh, caffeine. According to the literature, I need to watch my caffeing intake. Yikes. Giving up Dihydracodeine AND caffeine at the same time. Holy Smokes, I’m going to be a grump.

Seriously, I do take in a lot of caffeine. I start each day with two cups of coffee, then have hot and iced tea by the gallon. I will start by switching to one cup of coffee, and maybe have some decaf for the second. I am drinking a cup of decaf tea as I type this post. I don’t love decaf. I think you can taste the difference. But in hot tea, it’s not as bad. As for iced tea, its my drug of choice. I’m not sure yet what I’ll do. One thing at a time.

I already, eat right. I eat plenty of salmon and sardines. I eat mostly chicken and turkey and some lean cuts of beef and pork. All my veg is either organic or frozen. I have cut out sugar, and white flour, including white pasta. I eat no white rice.

I’ve been eating Keto, for a long time now. I’m just making tweaks to cut calories, and improve my blood pressure. I MIGHT have to raise my carbs ot 50 grams a day, knowing that I’m cutting calories at the same time. I’ll keep you posted on that.

I know this all sounds complicated. Sometimes our health is. I don’t want to be on medication the rest of my life. I’m antipharma. I’m one of the most outspoken people you’ll ever meet about it. And yet, I’ve found myself trapped in their chain of pills, prescriptions, and profits.

I have said before, I believe God built healing into creation. I believe in medicine, too. I believe that things like surgical techniques have changed the world. But I also believe, that Big Pharma is killing more people that it is helping. But I believe the same thing about Big Agra. And Big Supermarkets. I believe in farmers, I just believe they are trapped in the grip of big buisness like the rest of us.

Ok, I’m starting to ramble. That means it’s time to go. Thanks to all of you who read these epistles and rants. I don’t put them on Social Media. I’m just letting them grow, idle, or die, without promo. Please, if you get any benefit from them, drop me a note in the comments and tell your friends and family. Subscribe too. That always helps. I never hate disagreement. Just don’t be disagreeable about it. Drop those thoughts in the comments too. And any questions. Thanks for wading through today’s rant. You rock.

An Update Regarding Water Retention

I am finding things rather interesting at the moment. It’s only the 4th day since I renewed my real focus on Keto/South Beach. But I have already noticed some dramatic changes.

First, I haven’t been as hungry. That’s weird. I’ve been starving for several weeks. I had to start eating breakfast again about 6 weeks ago. Obviously, that has something to do with the sugar and wheat that had crept back into my diet. I look at my notes and see that I had donuts at least once a week. Not the half dozen or so that I used to have. But I would have 2 at a time. Sometimes twice a week. And it looks like I had a small frozen pizza once a week for several weeks. I wasn’t paying attention. In fact, I have one in my freezer now. It’s been there for a week, tempting me.

I just ate fat and protein the first two days. I had no vegetables. I paid a price for that. Do I need to go into it? Yesterday, I had broccoli and cauliflower, and I had a little bran. I will do similar today. Figure it out!

But the main thing I’ve noticed, has to do with the water retention I wrote about a couple weeks ago. It got to the point where I was taking my prescription diuretics 5 to 6 days a week. I was getting concerned. Every night, my legs were swollen to the point my socks were uncomfortable.

My refocus began Saturday. On Sunday, I started having a natural diuretic effect. That’s normal when you start any kind of diet. I was surprised it started so quickly. I can’t explain that yet. But I eliminated more water on Sunday and Monday, without the pills, than I usually do with them. Seriously. I’ve even had to get up three times each night to go to the toilet. And it has continued so far today.

I realize that’s a bit TMI, but it’s quite interesting. It makes me wonder how much of my recent weight gain has been water. And what caused it? Does sugar cause fluid retention? Does flour? Is it a combination of my blood pressure medication and sugar or flour? How much MSG has been in the frozen pre prepared meats I’ve been eating?

These questions are worth investigating. But right now I need to get over to the greenhouse and tend to my tomatoes and peppers. I just wanted to share my thoughts with you.

NOTE: I found it. I was just munching on some Pork Rinds, my favorite go to Keto snack, and there it was in the ingredient list, MSG. I threw them out. I had only eaten a few of these, but that explains so much. I have been eating those like they were going out of style. For the last three months I’ve had an individual serving bag of them nearly one a day. That’s a lot of MSG. My heart is broken, but the mystery is solved. Now I just have to figure out what I’ll do for snacks. I don’t like veggies for snacks. Thinking caps on.

Water Retention War!

Happy Water Droplet vector files image - Free stock photo ...

I’m always amazed at how many rather deeply personal matters I describe to you. It’s like I have no filter or restrictions when it comes to my body and the challenges related to weight loss. So be it. I tell you this stuff, because it’s real. And I want you to know the truth. On Instagram, for example, there are thousands of awesome, motivational, before and after pics of people’s weight loss journeys. I love them, too. They keep me going. Yet they rarely talk about the struggles they faced.

Have you noticed how many more of them are photos of women, than of men? Yes, I know there are men who have Instagram pages. Most of them are guys who have become body builders. That’s cool. As odd as this might sound, I was once one of those dudes. It was long before Instagram. Frankly, it was before the internet. So it was many hairs, and pounds ago.

When we look at Instagram closely, we can see that many of the women are also using the gym to shape their bodies as they lose weight. It’s obvious in the muscle tone. There is nothing wrong with that. But the fact is, some of us are getting a bit long in the tooth for highly strenuous workout routines. And there just isn’t much demand for photos of 60 something individuals on the world wide web. Discrimination! 🙂

In the world of the Great Apes, the big bellied Silver back Gorilla is much more desirable to females than the young, buff members of the society. How I wish….

I digress. Sometimes, I see a rabbit, and just want to chase it for a while. Thanks for your patience.

I told you last week, that I’m stuck. I’m not just on a plateau, my tires are spinning and I’m throwing mud, but getting no where. This week I’m going to address one of the factors contributing to this crisis. I’m retaining fluid. Badly.

Three years ago, this month, I had open heart surgery; a triple bypass. It would have been a quadruple, but one of my valves is in the wrong place. It is connected to another valve rather than to the heart itself. Now that’s weird, and it looks odd on the scans and diagrams I’ve seen, but when I had my heart attack and strokes, that weird deformation kept me alive. It was placed just right, so that it didn’t clog up with plaque, so when the rest of my heart flow slowed down, that valve stayed open.

Anyway, I am on blood pressure medicine. I take three kinds. One statin, one actual blood pressure med, and a blood thinner. As a side note, the thing I hate most about the blood thinner is when I cut myself shaving or get a scratch on my arm, or, a nose bleed. They bleed forever. They just don’t want to stop.

I have changed the blood pressure medication a couple of times, because it causes me to retain fluid. My legs were swelling up and felt like they were going to explode. My doctor, switched medications and gave me a diuretic to help relieve the retention. It worked great. In fact, I usually had to take the diuretic only once, sometimes twice, each week.

But in the last month, I’ve had to take one on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday. I only skip Friday and Sunday, because my schedule is so full that I don’t have time to stop and go to the toilet every ten minutes. But the next day, I’m desperate for a pill.

It scared me at first. I was afraid something was wrong with my kidneys. But according to tests, they are working just fine. Relief. Unfortunately, my blood pressure is still so high I can’t wean myself off the medication. I need to lose more weight. Grr….

By tracking my food intake, I have found a possible factor, salt. Let me explain. I don’t use much salt it my cooking. It’s already in my butter and cheese. I will sprinkle a little on my hamburger as I cook in, or on my chicken thighs, pork chops, etc. But not much, and not often. I use a lot of hot sauce, and mustard, and those are also full of salt. I don’t like the taste of over salted food.

But over the last few months, since my wife has been in the USA working, I’ve been cooking for one. So I’ve often bought frozen meat products. Things like Pork Tenderloin, frozen cooked hamburgers, chicken kiev, things like that. Those are loaded with salt. Some of them even have MSG.

The biggest culprit of all, has been my consumption of pork rinds. Pork rinds are highly recommended on the Keto Diet. They are full of fat, but have no carbohydrates. I love the things. I will crush them a bit and use them in salads to add some crunch. I will eat them with homemade dip. But it turns out, that here in the U.K. They are chocked full of salt. I’ve eaten them at least 5 days a week for a couple of months.

So, what am I to do? First, I have to cut back on my Pork Rinds. I found a variety that doesn’t have as much salt. Unfortunately, those are not always available. I’ll have to stock up on them next time they are available. But I’ll also have to go back to cooking ‘raw’ meat. No more, frozen pre made stuff. It has other carbs, I know, but I factor those into my daily allowance. I just hadn’t factored in the salt. Hot dogs will have to be reduced, too.

The main disadvantage of this, is, cost. Those frozen meats, and hot dogs, are so cheap. And they taste great. Calories and carbs have not been affected. But this water retention is becoming troublesome. So I have to do what I have to do.

I will track this for a couple weeks, and get back to you on the results. I’d love to hear from you. Do you have any problems with water retention? If so, what has caused yours? I know some other people here who have had it caused from their blood pressure medication. The good news is, the water pill they give me is called Fouresemide. It can be taken daily with no side effects or addiction. I have asked often about it. I don’t want to risk my kidney function.

One other thing I need to do, is sweat. I need to exercise in the heat, and maybe visit the sauna. I’d love to hear your tips. Talk to you soon.