An Andrews University study demonstrated that a programme aimed at helping people modify lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise was as effective as medication at reducing blood pressure.
117 participants in the study saw their blood pressure drop 19 points, on average, after taking part in the Weimer Institute Newstart Lifestyle programme for just 14 days.
Other studies have shown that a blood pressure reduction of this magnitude can cut a person`s risk of heart disease or stroke in half."By adapting selected lifestyle health principles, half of the people in our study achieved normal blood pressure within two weeks while avoiding the side effects and costs associated with blood pressure medications," said research team leader M. Alfredo Mejia.
"The Newstart Lifestyle programme works quickly, is inexpensive and uses a palatable diet that allows for moderate amounts of salt and healthy fats from nuts, olives, avocado and certain vegetable oils."The reduction in blood pressure accomplished by the programme was equivalent to what can be achieved using three half-dose standard medications for blood pressure.
In addition, 93 percent of the participants were able to either reduce the dose (24 percent) or eliminate their blood pressure medications (69 percent).
Washington D.C: People participating in the Newstart Lifestyle programme followed a vegan diet, walked outside daily, drank substantial quantities of water, got adequate daily sleep and participated in optional spiritual activities.
The programme`s vegan diet consisted of foods, such as legumes, whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, olives, avocados, soymilk, almond milk and whole-grain bread.
Next, the researchers plan to test the programme with more people over a longer time period to better understand its long-term effects and biological basis.
They also want to determine if the programme can be used to improve other health problems, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity. This study was presented at the American Society for Nutrition annual meeting, Nutrition 201