16 Nov Potassium — The K-Factor
(Image Credit: Photo by Daniele Levis Pelusi on Unsplash)
Hypertension is defined as abnormally high blood pressure. It is present when the force of blood against artery walls is too high, with health effects being heart disease and stroke.
Potassium (K) is known to be a large factor in controlling hypertension. The K Factor refers to the balance between potassium (K+) and sodium (Na+) ions in and between the cells of the body. This Na/K ‘pump’ operates like a battery, pumping sodium out and potassium in. The “K – Factor” is supposed to be high. In other words, there should be more potassium than sodium in the relationship. Dr. Richard Moore, in his book “The Blood Pressure Solution”, recommends a target K Factor of four (4 Potassium to 1 Sodium) because in diets he has monitored where there was any significant occurrence of high blood pressure, the K Factor was less than three.
According to some estimates, as much as 1/3 of the calories we consume are used to run the sodium-potassium pumps located on the surface membranes of every cell. When this battery does not operate properly, (meaning the K-Factor is low), it effects several other mechanisms in the cell, each contributing to hypertension:
- When the Na+/K+ pump is weak (the battery losing its charge from a low K factor) it affects the calcium pump (Na+/Ca++) which regulates the amount of calcium inside the cell. This pump pushes calcium out as sodium goes in. Ideally, the level of calcium inside the cell should be 10,000 times lower than the calcium outside the cell when the pump is functioning properly. The most obvious affect that too much calcium inside the cell has, is in the muscle cells, where it serves as a contracting force. The tiny arterial muscle cells contract with too much calcium, and this constriction serves as a component of hypertension. Essentially, the blood has to go through a more constricted pathway.
- Increased calcium inside the cells also contributes to insulin resistance. In other words, it decreases a cell’s ability to remove glucose from the blood.
Where do we get Potassium?? Vegetables and Fruits, eat lots of all different colors and you’re good.
The following K sources are from an excellent article by Dr. Mercola on stroke risk and Potassium:
Green vegetable juicing is an excellent way to ensure you’re getting enough nutrients for optimal health, including about 300-400 mg of potassium per cup. Some additional rich sources of potassium are:
Lima beans (955 mg/cup)
Winter squash (896 mg/cup)
Cooked spinach (839 mg/cup)
Avocado (710 mg/cup)
Other potassium-rich fruits and vegetables include:
Fruits: papayas, prunes, cantaloupe, and bananas. (But be careful of bananas as they are high in sugar and have half the potassium of an equivalent amount of green vegetables. It is a myth that you are getting loads of potassium from bananas; the potassium is twice as high in green vegetables)
Vegetables: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, avocados, asparagus, and pumpkin
Here is a chart showing potassium sources from WhFoods.com: Potassium Sources.
For more on this topic, read The High Blood Pressure Solution, on the K-factor, by Dr. Richard Moore.