Can Meditation & Fasting Lower Blood Pressure?

As the release date draws nearer, I want to take as many opportunities as possible to explore some of the novel areas of discourse in the world of blood pressure management that did not quite make it to the pages of my excellent Easy 30-minute DASH Diet Cookbook.

Having already touched on a wide variety of topics in this subject area, the dual topics of intermittent fasting and meditation emerged as potential areas worthy of further exploration.

Many of my longtime readers will know that I’ve written at pretty great length about intermittent fasting in the past ( even wrote a book on it!) and have also discussed meditation in the context of gut health.

In today’s article I will explore both of these very hot topics from the perspective of blood pressure management.

Let’s get right to it!

Intermittent Fasting, Meditation & Blood Pressure

In order to focus the conversation properly, I will divide it into two parts.

Part 1 – Intermittent Fasting

Studies in both Ramadan and non-Ramadan settings have demonstrated a potential efficacy of intermittent fasting as a complimentary blood pressure lowering tool.

While we have to be honest in saying that it will never be the most important thing one can do to manage their blood pressure, studies suggest that one of the potential mechanisms through which  fasting helps with hypertension is through an increase in the expression of what is known as BDNF factor.

Brain-Derived Neurtrophic Factor is a protein that activates the parasympathetic nervous system, stimulates the release of acetylcholine and thus reduces the frequency of heart contractions.

If you’d like to learn more about the nuances of intermittent fasting please do read one of my previous articles on the topic.

Part 2 – Meditation

The practice of meditation is growing in popularity owing in part to the increasing availability of smart phone applications that can guide new practitioners through the process.

Add onto that the stress and social isolation associated with COVID-19 and you have a modality with some real promise and utility.

But can it help lower your blood pressure?

According to a 2017 meta-analysis published in The Journal Of Hypertension both transcendental and non-transcendental meditation may serve as  promising alternative approaches for lowering blood pressure.

This is what the American Heart Association has to say on the effectiveness of meditation in the cardiovascular health context:

Overall, studies of meditation suggest a possible benefit on cardiovascular risk, although the overall quality and, in some cases, quantity of study data are modest. Given the low costs and low risks of this intervention, meditation may be considered as an adjunct to guideline‐directed cardiovascular risk reduction by those interested in this lifestyle modification, with the understanding that the benefits of such intervention remain to be better established.

Final Thoughts

While the evidence supporting either practice is limited, there is enough to warrant a curiosity regarding the role these novel strategies might play as complimentary tools in the world of blood pressure management.

Even so, we obviously cannot disregard the efficacy of tried and true approaches like the DASH Diet as the primary means through which to intervene upon high blood pressure from the lifestyle angle.

Good thing I’ve written a book on that topic and it’s available for pre-order by clicking on the image below!