According to the World Health Organisation, hypertension is estimated to cause 7.5 million deaths which are about 12.8% of total deaths worldwide. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for coronary heart disease and ischemic, also hemorrhagic stroke. To prevent such diseases we have to first monitor and control our blood pressure.
The word ‘Blood pressure’ is very well known and widely used, but before going into depth about the prevention let’s get a brief understanding of the same.
The heart pumps the blood to be circulated around the body. The arteries carry oxygenated blood throughout the body and veins carry the polluted carbon dioxide-rich blood to the heart again. Then further this blood goes to lungs for purification and then comes back to the heart again for arteries to carry it to various organs. This process goes on until death. Now let’s understand what actually is blood pressure. It is the lateral pressure given by the blood into the artery wall while flowing through them. When the beating of heart exerts pressure on the walls of the artery that is called systolic pressure, and when the heart relaxes between beats the pressure on the artery wall is called diastolic pressure. While blood pressure may change throughout the day depending on various factor like activity, food intake, etc. but it should normally range between 120/80 mm of Hg. If systolic pressure frequently stays above 140 mm of Hg and diastolic pressure stays above 90 mm of Hg then this is termed as high blood pressure. Over time high blood pressure damages the artery walls which can be fatal.
Generally, blood pressure may rise under several conditions such as cardiac output, blood volume or resistance in between the artery walls, etc. the medical term of increased blood pressure is hypertension.
To deal with high blood pressure few dietary modifications are necessary. All together they are called the DASH diet, where DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The DASH diet is a long term approach to healthy eating, which is designed to treat or prevent high blood pressure. The DASH diet was developed to lower the blood pressure by encouraging a reduction of sodium intake from the diet and emphasises on consumption of vegetables, fruits and low-fat dairy products. A moderate quantity of whole grains, fish, poultry and nuts are allowed. Based on the sodium intake it can be divided into 2 categories:
The Standard DASH diet, where regular consumption of 2300 mg Sodium is allowed. And Lower sodium DASH diet, where only 1500 mg sodium is allowed. The standard DASH diet helps meet the RDA of sodium i.e. 2500 mg. This type is generally prescribed for prevention purposes. The later lower sodium DASH diet is advised for the person who is suffering from any type of heart or blood-related disorders like atherosclerosis. To reduce blood pressure it is recommended to maintain the right body weight with regular exercise or physical activity as per the body’s tolerance level.
DASH diet plan should include:
- High amount of fresh fruits and vegetables
- Grains (mainly whole grains)
- Low-fat dairy products
- Lean meat, poultry and fish
- Nuts and Seeds
- Healthy fats (i.e. Omega 3)
Healthy lifestyle modification including healthy good food habits, good water intake, proper exercise and adequate sleep helps deal with all the lifestyle disorders including Hypertension.