Cautions About the DASH Diet - dummies

Cautions About the DASH Diet

By Sarah Samaan, Rosanne Rust, Cynthia Kleckner

Although the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet is a fabulous plan that promotes better health and well-being for most people, it’s not for everyone.

One advantage of DASH is the fact that it’s high in potassium. For most people, that helps their kidneys regulate blood pressure more efficiently. However, people with advanced kidney disease may need to limit the potassium in their diet.

If you have a chronic medical condition or take prescription potassium, it’s important to discuss any major changes in the foods you choose with your doctor. In some cases, you may need more careful monitoring of blood work, and in other situations, it may be possible to cut back on the potassium pills when you switch to DASH.

Of course, if you have high blood pressure, DASH may lower it enough that your medications will need to be adjusted. That’s a really good side effect, but not one that you want to overlook. When you commit to DASH, it’s important to monitor your blood pressure closely, especially in the first one to two months and whenever you find yourself losing weight.

Let your doctor know of any changes. Doctors love it when patients can ditch a pill or two.

It goes without saying that if you’re gluten intolerant, you need to modify a bit, but there are plenty of tantalizing, gluten-free, healthy grains, including buckwheat, quinoa, millet, and wild rice.

If you’re lactose intolerant, yogurt and other dairy products may not be right for you, so consider calcium-fortified soy milk, almond milk, and other such products.

If you have a disease or disorder that requires medical nutrition therapy (MNT), you need to consult with a registered dietitian/nutritionist (RDN) for individual nutrition counseling prior to starting the DASH diet. Talk to your doctor about a referral or find an RDN near you by checking out Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Finally, despite the fact that some of you may eat way too much salt, certain individuals need more of the stuff. Competitive athletes and people working outdoors in the heat are the obvious examples. A small minority of people suffer from low blood pressure, and in those cases, extra salt is often the treatment of choice.

The great thing about DASH is that it can be easily adapted for a wide variety of tastes and conditions. Because everybody is different, check with your doctor before jumping in with both feet, and let her be a partner in your path to wellness.