How does the DASH Diet Work? How Does the DASH Diet Lower Sodium?
We have heard for many years that we need to lower our salt intake, so most people have limited the amount of table salt they use.
However, this change has not decreased the occurrence of hypertension in America. The main culprit of sodium is processed and packaged foods and the foods we eat in restaurants.
Most of these foods have high levels of sodium, and we are eating more of them than ever before.
The DASH diet plan is a low sodium diet that doesn’t just reduce table salt intake. It is a comprehensive diet that limits the processed and packaged foods that are the main cause of high sodium intake.
By learning to eat a new kind of diet that relies on fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes, and low-fat dairy and meat products, lowering sodium is as simple as sticking to the eating plan.
It is rich in essential nutrients, such as potassium, that are important in preventing and combating high blood pressure. It is also rich in fiber, minerals, and other heart healthy nutrients.
Currently, the US recommended daily intake of sodium is less than 2300 mg a day. The recommended intake for people with high blood pressure is 1500 mg per day.
If the average American diet were to reduce sodium to 1500 mg per day, it would save an estimated 70,000 lives per year. Until the government forces the FDA to regulate the amount of sodium in pre-prepared foods, it is up to individuals to look after their own health. It is a simple lifestyle change that could very well save your life.
What Kinds of Food Can You Eat on the DASH Diet?
The DASH diet doesn’t require you to limit yourself to boring cardboard like crackers or subsist on liquid shakes.
The DASH diet is an adaptable plan that you can tailor to your own food tastes and choices. Because it is founded in solid nutritional understanding, you don’t have to worry that you will not be getting the proper nourishment for your body.
There is a wide variety of foods that are encouraged to eat on the DASH diet plan. Most of these foods are fresh, unprocessed fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy foods, lean meats, nuts, seeds and legumes, and limited fats and sweets.
What most Americans do not realize is that fresh foods are extremely tasty. Once a person has been eating a cleaner, fresher diet for a few days, they will experience a sharp reduction in cravings for unhealthy, salty, sweet, and fatty foods.
The DASH diet works by requiring a person to eat a specific number of servings of different types of foods each day depending on the caloric intake that person requires.
How to transition into the DASH diet Transitioning into the Diet
Various sodium levels of the diet
The DASH diet plan allows for variation in both sodium levels and caloric intake. To begin with, it might be difficult for an individual to go down to 1500mgs of sodium a day, especially if they are used to a typical American diet that consists of roughly 4000mg of sodium a day.
That is why the DASH diet allows dieters to transition into the lower sodium levels while beginning the diet.
The important part of the DASH diet is long term success, not short term weight loss. Therefore, accounting for the individual’s needs, and human nature is crucial in the success of the diet.
In the DASH diet clinical studies, there were three different sodium groups. These sodium levels were 3300mg, 2300mg, and 1500mg. The lowest levels of sodium on the DASH diet have the quickest and best results in lowering blood pressure, so this is the ideal plan.
If you are eating a high fat, high sodium diet, start by transitioning to a 3300mg DASH diet, then 2300mg, then finally 1500mg.
Unprocessed foods have very little sodium content. The way to count your sodium intake on the DASH diet is by reading the labels on the processed foods you eat and adding them up toget the total daily value.
Since most of the meal plans on the DASH diet are from whole, unprocessed foods, it will be easy to transition to a lower sodium regimen.
There are several different caloric intake plans on the DASH diet. The reason for this is that different bodies require different calorie levels for optimum health. For example, men require more calories than women and taller people require more calories than shorter people.
Also, severely reducing calories abruptly can shock the body. If a person has been on a very high calorie diet, it is better to transition more slowly into a lower caloric intake than to do it all at once.
There are three caloric levels on the DASH diet plan. These are 1600, 2600, and 3100. Each of these different plans require different serving quantities for the various food groups required on the DASH diet. This will make following the caloric intake requirement much easier.
Transitioning Into a High Fiber Diet
The typical American diet is very low in fiber, while the DASH diet is very high in fiber. In the long run, this high fiber diet will be excellent for the digestion. However, many people have noticed digestive difficulties when first transitioning into a high fiber diet.
Some of these digestive difficulties include bloating, diarrhea, constipation, gas, etc. It is important to be aware of these side effects before beginning the DASH diet, and in many cases it might be wise to transition into the diet over a week’s time.
To transition slowly into the high fiber DASH diet, you can eat your normal meals for breakfast and lunch and eat a DASH diet dinner that is rich in fruits and vegetables and whole grains for the first three days. Then on the fourth day, begin to eat your lunch and snacks according to the DASH diet plan. Finally, for breakfast, at the end of the first week, you should be fully transitioned into the DASH diet meal plan.
When transitioning into a high fiber diet it is essential to drink plenty of water to flush the fiber through the system. Drink at least eight 8 oz glasses of water throughout the day during the transition week, and continue to have high water consumption as you continue the DASH diet plan.