What If Your Blood Pressure is Too Low? Can Paleo Help?


I recently learned that my Paleo diet and athletic lifestyle-induced low blood pressure can actually be problematic; I recently fainted, was rushed to the hospital and the cardiologist who cared for me has told me he wants me on meds to increase my BP.   I don’t want to take meds- I’m only 37!  Any ideas?


Rich, Baltimore

You’re correct that endurance athletes do demonstrate physiological adaptations in response to long term training, one of which is lowered blood pressure.   I actually have it, too; if I stand up too quickly, I sometimes get a rush of blood to the head, but fortunately, it has never caused fainting.

Of course, the following list is a general collection of foods and supplements that may help, so please don’t mistake this post as a medical prescription and be sure to follow through with your doctor.

However, I must add that if he or she isn’t giving you the answers you need, certainly seek out another physician who understands the athlete’s body and the associated parameters;  I find that if my own doc is an athlete himself, he tends to understand the specific needs of our demographic compared to a doc that deals with an unhealthy population.

  • Beet juice is said to increase blood pressure
  • Licorice (medicinal) also is indicated to increase blood pressure
  • Decreasing foods high in potassium, such as banana and cantaloupe
  • Adding salt to one’s diet- this is still Paleo acceptable for endurance athletes
  • Keeping on top of hydration
  • Monitoring your own BP and pulse several times per day to get to know your own trends and norms
  • Decreasing alcohol and caffeine may also help 

The fact that you’re already Paleo will help as there are many foods on the ‘do not eat’ for low blood pressure list’ that come under the categories of grains,  legumes and dairy.

While it probably seems frustrating to you, as an young athlete, to have to be in a position to even have to see a cardiologist in the first place, try and see it as an opportunity or a window into something that may be ‘off’ with your cardiac physiology and as such, a chance to correct it before something unthinkable happened.

The more knowledge we have about our bodies, the better!