What science says about the Dash diet, one of the few to lose weight backed by evidence
The word diet is, with or without reason, associated with endless ineffective and dangerous nutritional miracle patterns. Unfortunately, the credibility of these food protocols is just in doubt.
However, the DASH diet has a scientific origin and endorsement. Can you help us lose weight? Definitely. Is it a "healthy" diet? Well used, of course. Does it work miracles? Far from it, that's what it's about. The DASH diet was designed to help patients with hypertension, and therefore it has benefits that other diets do not.
What is the origin of the Dash diet?
When someone says "diet" a poor dietitian / nutritionist dies. The word has been reviled and misused until boredom and loathing. That's right. Under this term are hidden hundreds, if not thousands, of diets that try to sell pilgrim ideas without any scientific evidence. However, this diet consists of a pattern that is based on a series of healthy habits and foods, mainly fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products. It also includes fats in moderate amounts and a low contribution of the saturated and cholesterol type. The DASH diet rejects foods that provide free sugar and focuses on reducing salt. As simple as that.
On the other hand, the diet seeks to include a high content of fiber, potassium, calcium and magnesium. Therefore, to make it, regular amounts of whole grains, fruits and vegetables are usually included in it, forming the basis of the diet. Another premise is its low availability of sodium and refined sugars.
The DASH diet was designed by specialists, back in the 1990s, to treat cases of hypertension. As marked by studies published in the prestigious The New England Journal of Medicine, its appearance came from the relationship between diet and blood pressure, a relationship that was revealed in an extensive study that lasted several years and involved more than twenty specialists from various medical and dietary centers attached to the United States National Institute of Health, or NIH.
These researchers from NIH, one of the most important health institutions both in the US and worldwide, saw that it was possible to lower blood pressure with only a few dietary changes in the medium term, without the need for medication.
From the results, they were able to determine a specific nutritional pattern. This, unlike other badly called diets, is not intended to make you lose weight in two weeks, miraculously, or anything like that. However, it does promise some important health benefits.
Diet, but with evidence?
This diet can be very beneficial for health. But what benefits are we talking about? What evidence supports it? In 2001, continuing the work for more than a decade, the NIH researchers found that the DASH diet can curb and prevent hypertension, in addition to reducing the appearance of kidney stones (kidney stones). Following the results, other groups attached to centers as relevant as the NIH itself (national health departments, university bromatology services, etc.) verified with good methodological approaches evidence that shows that they also help control diabetes. Another of the most interesting aspects of the DASH diet is that it helps to lose weight, combined with some exercise, as verified by the team of Angela D. Liese and the Department of Medicine of the University of Texas.
It is also related to an improvement for depression and an improvement in quality of life at a general level, as our colleague Gabriela Gottau told us in Vitónica. All this is basically because the DASH diet promotes healthy eating habits, as we will now explain.
Unlike other diets, this is not a kind of "copy paste" template in which specific foods and points are determined. The DASH diet, on the contrary, plays with the evidence related to a healthy and balanced diet. Therefore, it not only has its own studies, but also the results guaranteed by healthy eating.
How does the DASH diet work?
As we said, it consists, simply, in keeping a check on the food we eat. This involves increasing the amount of fruits, vegetables and dairy and reducing the fat and sugar content. It also focuses on reducing salt. According to the results, a dietary restriction and diet under the DASH diet patterns allows to control blood pressure efficiently.
The DASH diet includes whole grains, nuts and legumes, as the main part of the diet. To this, add a little meat, fish and poultry, with as little fat as possible. Saturated fats and foods with excess cholesterol should be excluded as far as possible from the diet.
We must also reduce the salt content, and replace with iodized salt, as well as minimize the amount of free sugars we eat. This means removing ultra-processed foods, increasing the intake of vegetables and fruit, and using quality vegetable fats. Finally, this diet is usually hypocaloric, so it directly affects weight
The DASH diet does not contemplate vegetarianism in any of its plans, curiously, although it does reduce the consumption of animal products. In addition to the food pattern, the DASH diet adds healthy habits to the equation such as quitting smoking, doing some exercise or daily physical activity, taking more fiber, drinking a minimum amount of water, reducing alcohol ...
In short, the DASH diet is effective because it promotes healthy life patterns, both food and habits. There are several more or less determining diet plans in which our nutrition can fit. How we do it is up to us, of course, as long as we stick to the basic idea of this diet.