Hypertension, commonly known as high blood pressure is common in people in India as well as other countries. Up to 40% of the population in the urban areas and 17% in the rural areas suffers from hypertension. When arterial blood pressure is persistently high and force is exerted on the arteries by blood, it is termed as hypertension. Hypertension happens when systolic blood pressure rises above 140/90 mm/Hg. There are so many reasons for hypertension in our country, such as stress, anxiety, depression, drugs, inappropriate eating habits, etc. Hypertension leads mainly to cardiovascular diseases and coronary heart disease. Diabetes is also a major disease cause due to hypertension.
People need to keep medication along with them everywhere they go and need to consume it on a daily basis. Along with that, they are always scared that eating anything in excess or with more sodium or fats might increase their blood pressure. To be factual it’s true. But, here we have a way to rely less on medicines and eat freely without any fear. The magic is called ‘DASH DIET’.
DASH known as ‘Diet Approaches To Stop Hypertension’, is a dietary pattern which is promoted by the U.S. based National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (N.H.L.B). N.H.L.B., part of National Institute of Health, an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services that prevents and controls hypertension. This diet works on the theory of reducing 5-6 mm/Hg of systolic pressure, due to the type of diet followed. Weight-loss also happens due to the diet but its main focus is on the prevention of hypertension. If precaution is taken for the future crisis then maybe we can postpone or even end it.
Dash diet focuses more on plant-based foods rather than animal-based. Animal food mainly consists of a good amount of fat and cholesterol along with good quality and amount of protein. A person who is referred to this diet will surely have a weight loss and their systolic blood pressure will reduce by 3-6 mm/Hg up to 11 mm/Hg.
The World Health Organisation has certain rules and regulations to be followed in the diet for expected results. Some of them are:
- Sodium and potassium: We have always studied that there should be a ratio of sodium and potassium in our food. They compliment each other. The same is to be followed here: the sodium content needs to be kept low. On an average, an Indian consumes 12 g/day of sodium. The ratio of 1:1 should be kept, but a person consuming a little more amount is always safer. The sodium consumption should be 2 g/day and that of potassium should be 2.4 g/day.
- Alcohol consumption: Alcohol is said to be good if taken in regulated amounts. Daily consumption would lead to liver problems and other heart and cardiovascular diseases. A man should drink not more than 3 drinks per day consisting of 15 ml per drink and the woman should not consume more than 2 drinks per day with the same amount of quantity as that for men.
- Excessive calcium intake: every nutrient has its own daily requirement by the body, and usually calcium is one found deficit until supplements are taken. But there are cases where calcium is high in our body. Excessive calcium leads to heart stroke.
- Lipid and fats: it is a known phenomenon that excessive amount of fats and oils leads to cholesterol and cardiovascular problems. Animal products, to be specific, are responsible for cholesterol which creates a blockage in the artery of the heart, due to which people taking more of fried and oily foods suffer from high blood pressure problems.
- Pharmaceutical drugs: certain medicines that we take also lead us to hypertension due to their chemical nature. That’s why we are always advised to drink milk after taking a medicine or something that keeps the body cool. Certain drugs such as steroids, oral contraceptive pills, appetite suppressants, nasal sprays, etc could also lead to high blood pressure problems.
All of these factors acting together on a person could also lead to hypertension.
To keep the blood pressure in control people have to follow some tips, they might be strict but gives a result that could be life changing. Some of them are:
- Less use of sodium i.e. less than 6 mg of salt per day.
- Cutting down on ready-to-eat foods.
- Avoiding foods containing MSG (mono sodium glutamate).
- Excluding or less use of baking soda and baking powder.
- Not using sodium benzoate in foods to be preserved or using foods containing it.
- Canned, pickled and salted chips should be consumed less or avoided.
- Low-fat dairy products should be used, excessive use of high-fat dairy products such as cheese, cream, butter could lead to hypertension.
- Shell or dried fish should be avoided or used less.
- Bakery items made of refined flour should be consumed less.
- Limited intake of alcohol.
- Limited consumption of sweet products.
It comes to the conclusion that the major focus here is on:
- maximum intake of fruits and vegetables,
- low-fat dairy product,
- whole cereal-based foods,
- 5 days of physical activity per week,
- lean meat, and
- high-density lipoprotein containing foods.
DASH diet is tough to be followed but has astonishing effects on people. The diastolic and systolic pressures both come in control. There is a healthy weight reduction too. With every 1 kg decrease in the weight 1 mm/Hg of systolic and diastolic pressure also decreases. It’s how the pressure comes in control. The fiber content of the diet helps satisfy the stomach and makes one eat less food, leading to weight reduction.
People following the diet have also seen reduction in cancers too. Insulin is cancerous. Excessive glucose comes from excessive carb foods which need extra insulin to be produced, which leads to an increase in cancer rates. More amount of meat also increases the chances of getting cancer.
‘Stringent rules gives discipline output.’ But forcing the body to do something unhappily will not let you achieve anything. Eat your food happily and it will turn profitable for you.