What is a Dash Diet?
A lot of health issues arise daily in the world. Most of these issues that occur can be traced down to the lifestyle being lived by humans as well as the intake of both food elements and drinks. Ignorance on the part of humans as to what is ingested into their bodies is one of the major contributing factors to depleting conditions of the human body. Whether it be smoking of cigarettes, drinking of liquor and alcoholic drinks, continuous consumption of greasy fatty foods, large intakes of sugar and salty products. If humans do not exercise care and moderate the intake of these components, then a disaster is waiting to occur in the human body.
It therefore comes as no surprise that most of these food substances have been known to cause either high blood pressure or low pressure otherwise referred to as hypertension. The same way ingestion of various food substances into the body can cause this ailment, is the same way consuming the right ones can aid in curbing it. Due to this, medical experts, researchers and health nutritionists came up with the concept of the DASH Diet.
What Is The Dash Diet?
The “DASH” in the Dash diet stands for “Dietary Approaches To Stop Hypertension”. It more or less creates emphasis on the size , consumption of food varieties so as to gain the right nutrients in the body. It is a well thought of initiative to regulate blood pressure and improve the health of the human body. It is not something that is done short term rather, it’s focus is long term and aims to reduce the sodium that is a major part of diets and also causes health issues. A diet that consists of components that have low sodium but other nutritional factors that can be beneficial to the human body is what the dash diet is all about.
From a nutritional standpoint, the diet is low in sodium but rich in potassium, magnesium and calcium. Therefore adding useful and beneficial elements to aid in suppressing or improving blood pressure issues for the wellbeing of an individual. For those suffering from blood pressure where greasy and salty food components have to be abstained from, the introduction of food components that include potassium, magnesium and calcium in their structure, can reduce systolic blood pressure by 3-4 points or diastolic blood pressure by 2-3 points. Although this change is not large enough to change a hypertensive individual blood pressure back to the regular one, this progress is considered as significant enough.
It is promoted by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute a part of the NIH ( National Institute of Health ) based in the United States. It is also recommended by the United States Department of Agriculture. Optimal Macronutrient Intake Trial for Heart Health was also carried out as further tests and development.
It is quite uncommon or in fact rare for high blood pressure (hypertension) to be an ailment found in toddlers, teenagers and young adults. The age group which is most susceptible to hypertension starts from people in their 30s and upwards. As a result, the DASH studies and diet are engineered towards this group of people and therefore, they are encouraged to partake in it. High blood pressure (HBP) when not taking care of can lead to heart attacks and strokes while low blood pressure (LBP) can cause dizziness and nausea. Both types of blood pressure are evident in at least three out of twenty persons and if left unattended to can lead to death.
How Long Is The Diet Meant To Last?
Hypertension is not something that can be gotten rid of overnight. Constant medication and selection of the right food substances have to be brought together before there is a chance of curbing it. Therefore, this diet is not just for the short run but the foreseeable future. This is kind of planning that has to be looked at from the point of view of a sustained health. As a result, breakfast, lunch and dinner menus have to be created in accordance to recommended foods in the diet. The diet contains other nutritional elements such as vitamins, carbohydrates and proteins that can be found from the fruits and vegetables that are a recommended part of it. The diet includes regular day food components that are nutritious but not something that will create cravings in the part of the individual as they can be easily accessible but just to keep it modified to suit health purposes.
Variations of The Dash Diet
A variation of the DASH diet is the DASH-sodium diet. Studies were made into this variation after the conclusion of the studies under the original dash diet. This was carried out with the aim of determining if better results could be gotten if the diet were to be low in salt s well as to examine the effects of the different level of salt consumed by the people undergoing the diet. Research into this study spanned three years ( 1997-1999 ) and results show that sodium intake has an effect in blood pressure levels.
What To Do When on the DASH diet?
This just refers to the type of food components that can be included in the diet.
- Consumption of Grains: grains such as pasta, cereal, bread, wheat and rice should be a part of the dietary supplements. These should not go beyond 8 servings in a day. Whole grains instead of refined grains should be a part of the diet as it consists of more fiber and nutrients.
- Fruits and Vegetables: instead of relegating fruits and vegetables as side dishes or things to be smacked on till the actual meal is ready, they can be a major part of a meal in the dash diet. Vegetables such as carrots, tomatoes, sweet potatoes etc are packed with fiber, vitamins, potassium and magnesium. Fruits on the other hand can be blended into smoothies and juices and kept in bottles where access can be had to them all day long. For vegetables, they can be used for stir fry alongside grains like pasta and rice. The fact that a healthy diet is being followed does not mean creativity has to be dormant.
- Dairy Products or Tofu: these include milk, yoghurt and cheese which are a major source of vitamins, protein and calcium. The ones that are low in fat or completely fat free are the ones that should be gone for. Cheese is known to be salty so it should be taken in moderation . That is, once in awhile and not on a regular basis.
For the vegans, tofu exists as an alternative for dairy and meat and contain all the amino acids inherent in meat.
- Meat: in this case, white meat is encouraged and not the red one gotten from beef. Poultry and fish can be the source of protein in this diet. Apart from protein, zinc, iron and vitamins are also nutrients to be gotten from lean meat. Any sign of fat on the meat should be trimmed down. Cooking of the meat can be done by boiling, broiling or baking which are much healthier options than frying. Salmon and tuna are greatly recommended choices of fish as they are rich in omega-3. The meat included should not be such a large portion when combined with other meals rather, the vegetables should be the center of the meal while everything else should serve as supplements.
- Nuts and Seeds: almonds, sunflower, peas as well as others from these food group are rich sources of protein, potassium and calcium. They also contain photochemical and fiber that are compounds in plant that guard against disease of the cardio and cancer. In the case of nuts, individuals tend to stay away from them due to indications of unhealthy fat contents. If eaten in moderation, they can provide omega-3 to the body.
- Fats and Oils: fat and oil in a dish is not a bad thing altogether although the portions have to be moderated. There are also held their options of oils such as olive oil, soft margarine, low fat mayonnaise and vegetable oil.
What To Abstain From?
When undergoing the DASH diet, it is imperative that the following types of food and beverages should be abstained from:
Alcohol: drinking too much can increase blood pressure and if alcohol must be taken then it should be restricted to one or two bottles once in awhile.
Caffeine: due to the adrenaline nature of caffeine products such as coffee, tea and energy drinks, they can have adverse effects on the heart.
Greasy and fatty food: clogging of arteries and prevention of proper flow of blood into all parts of the body is something associated with continuous consumption of fatty food. For a person already facing high blood pressure issues, it is imperative that these type of foods should be abstained from.
Salty: food that has high sodium components should be abstained from. Seeing as the tests and trials carried in the DASH study indicates that sodium intake has an effect in the level of blood pressure, it is therefore wiser to moderate if not eliminate the amount of salt evident in food being consumed.
Fizzy drinks: just like caffeine, fizzy drinks such as sodas contain carbon dioxide that can affect the arteries and prevent regulation of blood flow.
Other Health Recommendations
Apart from eating healthy, it is also recommended that a healthy lifestyle be lived. This can be done by:
- exercising: especially for those who are overweight
- abstain from cigarettes
- consume more liquids: smoothies, shakes and water.
- undergo clinic checkups and get prescribed medication
- monitor the level of the blood pressure on a constant basis
- stay away from stress inducing activities
- get a nutritionist to draft a diet plan or research the Internet for a diet table.
As can be read from above, the DASH diet does not require pomp and flamboyant or require special food materials before they can be undergone. Simple food items that can be gotten from any grocery store and found in most ordinary day cabinets are things that can be included in the diet plan.