The Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension (DASH) is a dietary pattern to prevent and control hypertension. Hypertension also called High Blood Pressure is a condition in which the force of the blood against the artery walls is too high. Usually, hypertension is defined as blood pressure above 140/90 and can lead to severe health complications such as the increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and sometimes death.

History and Background Of DASH:
The DASH diet originated in the 1990s, and in 1992 the National Institute of Health (NIH) showed more interest to confirm that dieting is useful in managing hypertension. It has since then been observed that only the dietary intervention alone can decrease systolic blood pressure by about 6 to 11mmHg and diastolic blood pressure by 3 to 7mmHg. This effect is seen both in hypertensive as well as normotensive individuals. Based on this, DASH has been advocated as the first-line pharmacologic therapy along with lifestyle modification for hypertension control.

Design And Model Of DASH:

The DASH diet is mainly based on fruits, vegetables, low-fat or fat-free dairy, whole grains, fish, poultry, legumes, and nuts. It reduces sodium intake, sweets (in drinks and foods) and red meat. It limits saturated and trans-saturated fat. It increases the intake of potassium, magnesium, protein, fibre and nutrients thought to help control blood pressure. The diet plan suggests that one:

  • Eats more fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy foods.
  • Cuts back on foods that are high in saturated fat, cholesterol, and trans fats.
  • Eats more whole-grain foods, fish, poultry, and nuts.
  • Limits sodium, sweets, sugary drinks, and red meats.
  • Adds more vegetables and dry beans to your diet.
  • Instead of snacking on chips or sweets, eats unsalted pretzels or nuts, raisins, low-fat and fat-free yoghurt, frozen yoghurt, unsalted plain popcorn with no butter, and raw vegetables.
  • Reads food labels to choose products that are lower in sodium.

The NHLBI sampling plan includes:

  • 6-8 servings of grains or grain products (preferable whole-grain)
  • 4-5 servings of fruits
  • 4-5 servings of vegetables
  • 2-3 servings of low-fat dairy foods
  • 2-3 servings of fats and oils
  • 2 or fewer servings of meat, poultry or fish
  • 4-5 servings of nuts, seeds or dry beans weekly
  • Limiting sweets and food with added sugars to a maximum of 5 weekly.

What Are The Other Clinical Uses of DASH Plan:

DASH dieting is not exclusive to blood pressure management in hypertensives.

  1. It is used additionally in the pharmacological therapy of metabolic syndromes.
  2. DASH diet helps lower blood glucose levels, triglycerides, LDL-C, and insulin resistance.
  3. It is used in weight management.
  4. Improves control of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus.
  5. Due to its emphasis on the reduction of dietary sodium and encouragement of intake of potassium, magnesium, and calcium, it is recommended for patients with heart failure.
  6. Reduction in the incidence of colorectal cancer, because of the bulky content.
  7. Offers improvement in chronic liver disease, diverticular disease, and celiac disease.
  8. Lowers all-cause mortality in adults.
  9. Prevention of chronic heart failure.

Other Ways To Prevent Hypertension:

  • Regular physical exercise
  • Stress reduction
  • Regular health check-up
  • Moderating alcohol consumption
  • Managing bodyweight

DASH is a flexible and balanced eating plan. When compared to some other diet patterns, it has an added advantage of having clear guidelines on the serving sizes and food groups, which makes it easier for the physicians to prescribe and monitor their patient’s improvement. It is also safe to say that when combined with pharmacological intervention, DASH can be a very useful tool for physicians to tackle these diseases more efficiently.

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