Heart, Diets | July 16, 2017 | Author: Naturopath
The DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) was developed to prevent and control hypertension and is considered the best approach for health and wellness.
As you might predict this diet or dietary ideal is based on the consuming of vegetables and fruit, whole grains, nuts, seeds and low-fat dairy products, chicken and fish. And avoiding or reducing the intake of red meat, saturated fats and sugary drinks.
The dietary intake of these foods provide good amounts of antioxidants, potassium, magnesium and calcium, protein and insoluable fibre, AND it reduces the amount of sodium you consume.
Following the DASH diet has been found to reduce blood pressure within 2 to 4 weeks for some people with newly diagnosed hypertension.
So why is it important to maintain your blood pressure?
High blood pressure (hypertension) is dubbed the “silent” killer as chronic or elevated blood pressure can go undetected until you have a complication.
The consequences of hypertension (chronic high blood pressure) are a stiffening of the arteries and a restriction of the blood flow through them.
This can lead to the same potential complications of having atherosclerosis, which is - heart attack, transient ischemic attack (TIA), strokes and renal failure.
The constant force of the blood as it passes through the arteries can weaken the arterial wall causing them to balloon out creating an aneurysm. This can create a potential life threatening situation if the aneurism burst, causing massive bleeding and death. Especially if the vessel ruptured is a large vessel such as the aorta. You won’t know you have an aneurysm.
Imagine a fast flowing river as it erodes its banks and creates outlets to try and cope with the pressure of the water
Aneurysm in the eye can cause blindness and in the smaller arteries of the brain they can lead to stroke. The constant high blood pressure damages the kidneys causing kidney disease preventing blood from flowing through them. And it can injure arterial walls allowing cholesterol plaques to stick.
Left Ventricular Failure (heart failure) occurs when the strain on the heart pump causes an enlargement and a weakening of the left ventricle as it tries to cope.
The high blood pressure can injure blood vessels and clots and plaques can develop in these weakened areas reducing the diameter of the artery, restricting the flow even more and causing the blood pressure to rise even further. One condition can aggravate the other.
Most coronary heart disease involves atherosclerosis and hypertension or a combination of them both.
Atherosclerosis there are cholesterol filled plaques blocking the arteries, restricting the blood flow.
Hypertension obstructs blood flow and strains the heart.
Both conditions can lead to heart failure, stroke, TIA and renal disease.
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Having a dietary approach to stop hypertension can help reduce blood pressure and also help reduce other cardio risk factors
The DASH approach reduces the amount of sodium eaten
As there is a strong correlation between high sodium intake and blood pressure and that most processed and packaged foods contain sodium, by changing the diet to eating more basic, ‘close to nature’ foods; you can reduce the amount of sodium consumed dramatically.
A well-established body of evidence has shown that a variety of potassium rich food intake can reduce blood pressure.
Many postulations as to how the intake of potassium can reduce blood pressure have been suggested such as relaxation of the vascular smooth muscles or the deficiency of potassium affecting the kidney and dysregulating sodium retention. It generally comes down to be are you eating enough fruit and vegetables.
Magnesium is the mineral used to relax muscles, and inside of the arteries lies smooth muscle, so it make sense consuming foods higher in magnesium can help reduce blood pressure. Magnesium can aid sleep and help reduce stress which will also promote a reduction in blood pressure.
Obtained from eating low-fat dairy and vegetables, calcium plays a critical role in regulating the cardiovascular function. Calcium has also been found to inhibit lipogenisis of fat cells thus also supporting CVD profile.
Protein is the building block of the body. Protein is made of amino acids which are involved in all processes of the body such as building and repairing, structure and function of hormones, tissue and enzymes. Studies have found that eating protein instead of carbohydrates can reduce blood pressure, possible due to the availability of amino acids from protein to support blood pressure regulation. Protein can aid weight loss by keeping you fuller for longer. Choose poultry, low- fat dairy, whey protein shakes and fish.
There has been a found a correlation between the intake a fibre and a lowering of blood pressure. The DASH suggests eating vegetables, fruit, whole grains, nuts and seeds all of which contain fibre.
Soluble fibres (gel-forming fibres) can decrease low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDLs) concentrations in the blood and improves insulin resistance. Insoluble fibres like those from fruit, vegetables and wholegrains have been found to decrease the risk of CVD.
Fruit and vegetables contain antioxidants - vitamin A, C and E, the mineral zinc and selenium, phytochemicals such as lycopene, lutein, flavonoids and anthocyanins which can help stop the damage caused by oxidation.
The process of oxidation in the body damages cell membranes and other structures. It can increase the risk of coronary heart disease as the free radicals encourage low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol to adhere to artery walls.
A certain amount of oxidation is ok but too much is a problem and can contribute towards heart disease, liver disease and some cancers.
Following the DASH diet can also help with diabetes and aid in cholesterol reduction, along with the lowering of blood pressure. Weight loss can also help with hypertension and the reduction of salt in the diet can help with hypertension. The beauty of the ‘dietary approaches to stop hypertension’ DASH diet is that it is just great healthy food that benefits overall health and wellbeing.
Whitney, Cataldo, Rolfes, (2002) Understanding Normal and Clinical Nutrition 6th Edition, Wadsworth, USA
Dietary Approaches to Prevent Hypertension https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4366416/
Osiecki H, The Nutrient Bible 9th edition, Bio Concepts Publishing
Calcium and blood pressure https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17685082
Fiber and cardiovascular disease risk: how strong is the evidence? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16407729
Total, insoluble and soluble dietary fibre intake in relation to blood pressure: the INTERMAP Study. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26328746
Dietary fiber and blood pressure: a meta-analysis of randomized placebo-controlled trials. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15668359/