High blood pressure and possible ethnic differences

On page 66 of a new book Plagues and the Paradox of Progress: Why the World is Getting Healthier in Worrisome Ways, by Thomas Bollyky, it is mentioned that early Western medical personal working in Africa in the 1920s were surprised to find no cases of hypertension/high blood pressure among the native African people. Only one native woman was known to be overweight and it was noted that she worked in a brewery which led the medical person in the document to speculate whether beer drinking could be fattening (yes it can). The first case of hypertension in a native African person wasn’t noted until the 1940s.

Question: Does the Western style of living or working or export of Western products cause hypertension in native Africans? If native Africans living in their traditional environment using their traditional diet have no risk for hypertension then what changed that caused an increased risk? This topic is also important for prenatal health as preeclampsia can include hypertension/high blood pressure and it does tend to be an increased risk for women with African American ancestry. The DASH diet may be helpful, for more on preeclampsia risk factors and possible tips for prevention or management, see Preeclampsia & TRP Channelseffectivecare.info

I’ve discussed this topic in my early days of blogging when I found a research article from ~ 1970s that noted ethnic differences in health outcomes but did not take into account possible differences in average ethnic diet at the time. (I haven’t found that article in my files yet. I will update this post if I do find it.) To get to the point directly – native African groups may have kidney differences that conserve calcium better, and possibly not conserve as much magnesium, as other ethnic groups. This would be protective when calcium was not very available in the diet but then would be an increased negative health risk if the diet contained a lot of calcium or phosphorus.

Low magnesium levels, particularly when there is also plenty of phosphorus may increase cardiovascular risks. Adequate magnesium levels are protective and elevated magnesium is unusual and may be increase cardiovascular risks. In good health the body maintains magnesium and other electrolyte levels within specific ranges. (5) Higher magnesium levels have also been associated with higher levels of potassium and of albumin, a blood plasma protein, (6), which is important for fluid balance and transport of a variety of chemicals in addition to magnesium (such as steroids, fatty acids, and thyroid hormones (wikipedia/serum albumin), about 30% of serum magnesium is carried in a non-electrically active form on proteins, primarily albumin (Clinical Biochemistry/serum magnesium) (9).

There may be differences in rate of urinary loss of albumin in different ethnic groups. With the presence of excess abdominal weight participants in a renal study of Hindustani-Surinamese, or African-Surinamese ancestry had an increased likelihood of albuminuria than participants of Dutch ancestry with the greatest risk found in the Hindustani-Surinamese group. (7) Asian Americans and African Americans were found to have better blood albumin levels in a renal study and the Asian Americans had better renal biomarkers compared to other ethnic groups in the study. (8)

When looking at hypertension and high blood pressure risk with the same diet in modern research there is a significant increased risk for African Americans to have high blood pressure and to have it occur earlier in life than in whites. (prevalence in the U.S. of hypertension in adults was “42 % for blacks and 28 % for whites,” (2011-2012)). (2)

So it is a good question – how did hypertension frequency in Africans in the 1920s change from zero to 42% for African Americans in the United States, in 2011-2012? Diet differences that were noted in 2009-2010 between white groups and African American groups were more cholesterol and sugar and less fiber, whole grains, nuts/beans/seeds, fruits and vegetables for the African Americans on average. Dairy intake was not mentioned as being significantly difference. In another research comparison calcium intake was lower on average in African Americans but so was magnesium (Table 1). (2)

Within the introduction and Diet and Blood Pressure sections of the article it is mentioned that ethnic differences in cardiovascular metabolism has been noted in African American groups and that their reduction in blood pressure when following the DASH diet was even better than the reduction in people of other ethnic background who followed the diet (it includes a magnesium rich Beans/Nuts/Seeds group as a daily/weekly recommendation). The INTERMAP study found an increased Sodium to Potassium ratio in urinary excretion and less total Potassium urinary excretion for the African American participants than white participants. (2)

Other research has also supported the idea that high blood pressure may have more to do with excess sodium (salt) intake in relation to low potassium intake than just having to do with the amount of sodium in the diet. Potassium is found in all vegetables and fruits in varying amounts, beans/nuts/seeds, and in liquid milk and yogurt. (Kidney dialysis and other patients with Chronic Kidney Disease have to avoid excess potassium so this article includes a list of potassium rich foods for the purpose of educating regarding what needs to be limited but for people of average kidney health it is a list of good sources to include in the diet: Potassium and Your CKD Diet, National Kidney Foundation.

Learning is an ongoing process, in the meantime some possible health tips for people of any ancestry:

  1. Adequate magnesium is essential for kidney and heart health and high blood pressure is an early symptom of low magnesium levels. Dietary sources may not be sufficient if intestinal absorption is poor or if renal losses are excessive. Epsom salt baths or footsoaks or magnesium chloride are topical forms. Adequate protein and phospholipids in the diet are also important to provide the albumin and other specialized transport molecules that carry magnesium and other chemicals within the vascular or other fluids of body tissue. More information about magnesium sources and symptoms of deficiency are available in a previous post: To have optimal Magnesium needs Protein and Phospholipids too.
  2. Adequate calcium and vitamin D are needed for health however excess may cause an imbalance between calcium and magnesium levels as magnesium is excreted along with excess calcium by the kidneys and less magnesium may be absorbed by the intestines as vitamin D causes increased absorption of calcium and magnesium but calcium may be more available in a modern processed food diet. For more information about vitamin D sources see: Light up your life with Vitamin D, peace-is-happy.org. Deficiency of calcium or of vitamin D can cause secondary hyperparathyroidism which can also be more common in renal failure due to excess phosphorus buildup and deficiency of active vitamin D. The healthy kidney is involved in activating vitamin D. (Secondary hyperparathyroidism, National Kidney Foundation) Calcium is plentiful in most dairy products and is also found in almonds, sesame seeds, beans, dark green leafy vegetables and other produce. Variations of a 2000 calorie menu plan shows that even a vegan diet can provide 1000 milligrams of calcium per day and a menu with dairy products can provide an excess with over 1600 milligrams of calcium, see: Healthy Hair is the Proof-of a healing diet.
  3. The DASH diet (Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension) may help because it encourages potassium and magnesium rich vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts and seeds. Calcium is provided without being over recommended with two to three servings of dairy group foods. See example daily/weekly diet plan recommendations here: What is the DASH diet?, dashdiet.org.
  4. Adequate without excess protein helps protect the kidneys from having to overwork excreting nitrogen from excess protein breakdown. Adequate water is essential for kidney and vascular health as it helps with excretion of toxins and transport of nutrients and oxygen in the vascular system. More information about protein and water recommendations are available in a previous post: Make every day Kidney Appreciation Day.

/Disclaimer: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

  1. Thomas Bollyky, Plagues and the Paradox of Progress: Why the World is Getting Healthier in Worrisome Ways, 2018, MIT Press, https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/plagues-and-paradox-progress
  2. Chan Q, Stamler J, Elliott P. Dietary factors and higher blood pressure in African-Americans. Curr Hypertens Rep. 2015;17(2):10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4315875/“Marked ethnic differences exist in bone metabolism and development of calcified atherosclerotic plaque (CP). Relative to European-Americans, African-Americans have lower rates of osteoporosis (despite ingesting less dietary calcium), form fewer calcium-containing kidney stones and manifest skeletal resistance to PTH (1,2,3). Systemic differences in regulation of calcium and phosphorus appear to be involved (4). Related phenomena may include the markedly lower amounts of calcified CP in African-Americans, despite the presence of more severe conventional cardiovascular disease risk factors (5,6,7,8,9). Together these observations suggest biologically mediated ethnic differences in the regulation of bone and vascular health.” […]  “The DASH/DASH-Na diet BP reduction was more pronounced for blacks compared to whites [313637]. Although the DASH dietary approach has been incorporated into lifestyle changes recommended for patients with HTN [3], data show that few hypertensive Americans consume diets even modestly concordant with the DASH diet and less so for blacks [38]. Only about 19 % of individuals with known HTN from NHANES 1999–2004 had DASH-concordant diets.”
  3. Barry I. Freedman, et al, Vitamin D, Adiposity, and Calcified Atherosclerotic Plaque in African-Americans,J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2010 March; 95(3): 1076–1083. [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2841532/?tool=pubmed]  
  4. Potassium and Your CKD Diet, National Kidney Foundation, https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/potassium
  5. Ryota Ikee, Cardiovascular disease, mortality, and magnesium in chronic kidney disease: growing interest in magnesium-related interventions, Renal Replacement Therapy2018 4:1,   https://rrtjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s41100-017-0142-7
  6. Noriaki Kurita, Tadao Akizawa, Masafumi Fukagawa, Yoshihiro Onishi, Kiyoshi Kurokawa, Shunichi Fukuhara; Contribution of dysregulated serum magnesium to mortality in hemodialysis patients with secondary hyperparathyroidism: a 3-year cohort study, Clinical Kidney Journal, Volume 8, Issue 6, 1 December 2015, Pages 744–752, https://doi.org/10.1093/ckj/sfv097
  7. van Valkengoed IG, Agyemang C, Krediet RT, Stronks K. Ethnic differences in the association between waist-to-height ratio and albumin-creatinine ratio: the observational SUNSET study. BMC Nephrol. 2012;13:26. Published 2012 May 7. doi:10.1186/1471-2369-13-26. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3492102/
  8. Frankenfield DL, et al., Differences in intermediate outcomes for Asian and non-Asian adult hemodialysis patients in the United States, Kidney International, Vol 64, Issue 2, Aug. 2003, pp 623-631 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0085253815493706
  9. M H Kroll, R J Elin, Relationships between magnesium and protein concentrations in serum. Clinical Chemistry Feb 1985, 31 (2) 244-246; http://clinchem.aaccjnls.org/content/31/2/244.long

Integrity and health

Integrity – has a two part definition – 1) regarding personal characteristic the aspect of honesty and having values – 2) regarding the physical state of wholeness, the person or substance or nation is complete and undivided.

Currently there is too much division in many areas between groups of people with different beliefs. Race,  religion, science, whatever the difference there is something in common, we share one planet. Infertility is increasing in humans and in many other species. Loss of insects causes a ripple effect up the food chain as plants are not pollinated and other species don’t have adequate food either from the loss of plants or the loss of insects. Infertility treatments are a costly procedure that is becoming common enough that some governments with nationalized health insurance have to decide about paying, which then leads to a question of who deserves the treatments and how many times. Five million dollars is the cost of fertility treatments in some areas of the world and there is no guarantee that it will work. How many treatments to attempt?

My own field of work experience could be described as a fertility expert – not an infertility expert who helps people conceive, instead a counselor who helped people who already had conceived have the healthiest pregnancy possible, or counseled about preparing for a healthy pregnancy for their next child. Something I heard frequently enough to stand out in my memory was something like, “I wasn’t trying to get pregnant, I had just worked really hard to get healthier and had lost weight and was exercising and now here I am pregnant.” Tragedy for many is not being able to conceive even with a variety of interventions. (information and statistics about infertility, cdc.gov) Focusing on health first was what seemed a successful method from a retrospective point of view. Tragedy did visit some, who was likely to miscarry? Not typically those who had achieved health first. The last post suggests also that adequate iodine and thyroid function may be part of the answer.

Self respect – confidence and faith in your own abilities and value.

How can I help you,” was recommended as a valuable question to ask for leadership or business. It is helpful in many roles. People don’t want to feel coerced or manipulated and are more likely to accept or participate with plans that they have had a part in making. The flaw in overly depending on the strategy is when people don’t know what they don’t know – if they don’t know about the possibility or value in something new than how can they ask for help with it? Horseless carriages and electric light-bulbs are two inventions that people were initially skeptical about trying. Elevators initially had elevator operators to push the buttons, in part to help people feel safer about riding in the new-fangled contraption, in part because the doors were not automated. A few elevator operators still work in higher price buildings, it adds a level of security as well as a prestige service. (The Benefits of an Elevator Operator).

If I felt that I could help and didn’t I wouldn’t feel good about myself however I can only help within my ability to help and continue to take care of myself. Mothers learn that being sick is no vacation from motherhood.

My goal with writing online and trying a few different website formats is for the purpose of trying to share self care information with those who seek it out. The preventative education prenatal/early childhood program in which was very effective and to me seemed even better than the care I had received from my health insurance covered medical care. Preventative health education takes time that typical medical appointments don’t have to spare. Providing self directed educational resources online can allow adult learners to access the information that they are interested in as they need it, as they develop the interest in seeking it out – answering their own question of “How can I help myself?

The Science of Self-Care: How climate researchers are coping with the U.N. report, Eric Holthaus @EricHolthausgrist.org.

Sea-level rise and flooding is one thing, people get wet, immigrate, and create huge problems. Loss of biodiversity means the human species as a whole is threatened to disappear. No joke. This is not discussed enough in the media.” – Eric Rignot @erignotgrist.org.

/Disclaimer: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

Iodine and Hydrogen Ions

To make a complex topic simple – iodine is a metallic element that can be electrically active and it helps stabilize water and hydrogen ions in a electrically active form. The combination of iodine and water in ionic form can create changes in protein structure more rapidly than regular enzymatic chemical reactions. The combination can effect DNA and mitochondria which helps explain why iodine is so important to infant development and energy levels throughout life.

Iodine is known as the mineral used in the thyroid hormone which is essential for energy metabolism but it is also essential for mitochondria which produce energy within every cell.

For more details: Tensegrity #6: Hydrogen Bonding Networks in Water, by Dr. Jack Kruse, a neurosurgeon, jackkruse.com.

Iodine & Proton Tunneling in Tadpole Development:

  • Providing iodine allows normal development of frog tadpoles even when they are missing normal pituitary or thyroid gland function which typically would disrupt the loss of their tail and growth of legs. (Accelerated Metamorphosis of Frog Tadpoles by Injections of Extract of Anterior Lobe Pituitary Gland and the Administration of Iodinepdf)
  • A video with a simple explanation of proton tunneling (positive hydrogen ions are a single positive proton, the negative electron likely remains with the oxygen atom of a water molecule), and the role proton tunneling may help a tadpole change into a four legged frog is available in a video: How do tadpoles change into frogs: The secrets of quantum physics. Spark.
  • Early stages of human development is somewhat similar to the changes seen in a frog tadpole. Between weeks four to seven of human fetal development the fertilized egg changes from a sphere shaped ball of cells into a tadpole type shape and then eventually into more of a human infant shape. (fetal development)
  • Early miscarriages in human pregnancy may be more of a risk if the woman is low in iodine levels. (Iodine status in women after early miscarriages in the Czech Republic, endocrine-abstracts.org)
  • Apathy, depression, slightly or significantly reduced cognitive skills, feeling cold in normal room temperatures, constipation, and sparse hair growth may all be symptoms of iodine deficiency in addition to increased risk for miscarriage in early pregnancy.  Food sources and symptoms of deficiency for iodine and selenium are available here: Iodine & Thyroid, effectivecare.info)

Humans need iodine, we are water based creatures, 60-70% water, and it is electrically stabilized and made more chemically efficient by iodine. We grow rapidly during infancy and childhood however we continue to perform rapid electrical reactions in all of our mitochondria in all of our cells, every day of our lives. Loss of mitochondria function has been linked to many chronic illnesses and with aging.

We need iodine because the water within our brain cells and other cells need iodine and the hydrogen ion rich plasma of our mitochondria need iodine.  Quantum proton tunneling saves energy, – it is how the sun works too.

/Disclaimer: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./