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DASH your way to better health! - An internationally recommended diet plan in the Indian setting

What we eat is who we are is a common adage. The role of diet becomes all the more important in chronic diseases like Diabetes and Hypertension. Diet experts are constantly researching better and novel diet plans that could contribute to better health.

Internationally, The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) is currently recommended as one of the essential lifestyle measures for controlling BP. It is an extensively researched diet plan which has proven to consistently reduce BP in varied settings. It has also proven beneficial in Diabetes.

It is simple and easily adaptable to locally available foods. It does not require expensive imported or exclusive foods. Since the recommended serving portions are already set, there is no need for complicated calorie calculations or elaborate preparations.

In this article let us understand the DASH diet and how we could use it in the Indian setting.

Basically what DASH recommends is:

1. Higher consumption of healthy carbohydrates, proteins and fiber through whole grains, legumes and nuts.

2. Increasing intake of essential vitamins, minerals, fibre and potassium through fresh fruits and vegetables.

3. High Calcium and protein intake through Low-fat dairy products

4. Inclusion of healthy fats and proteins through lean meat, poultry and fish.

5. Limited intake of red meat like beef/pork/mutton.

6. Limited intake of saturated fats like butter, ghee, sweets, fried foods

7. Limited salt intake.

With every meal that you prepare and plan, make sure the above seven concepts are applied.

Identifying the calorie recommendations for you:

Calorie requirements are calculated based on your age, gender and level of daily physical activity.

  • Age – adolescents require higher calorie intake as compared to adults. As you cross the age of 60 yr your daily calorie requirements reduce by 10 -20%

  • Gender - Females generally require lesser calories as compared to their male counterparts performing same level of daily physical activity. This is because of lower basal metabolic rates in women. Pregnant and lactating women require an excess of calories

  • Daily physical activity

Based on the kind of work you do physical activity levels are divided as:

  • Sedentary work – where more than 70% of your day to day life is spent sitting. This would include jobs like receptionist, clerk, cashier, banker, telemarketer, computer professionals etc

  • Moderate work – Those who have light physical activity as part of their daily life. This would include site inspectors, policemen, sales personnel, homemakers who regularly do household work like washing clothes, gardening etc,

  • Heavy work – Those who indulge in maximum physical activity in day to day life like construction workers, agriculturists, carpenters etc

Your daily calorie intake and diet plan will be based on what kind of work you do.

Calorie requirements of Indian adults – Adapted from the 2010 ICMR (Indian Council Of Medical Research) recommended nutritional requirements and RDA for Indians

*Use very minimal oil in your curries  *Use whole grains in all your meals *Avoid fried/salt rich dishes like pooris, samosas, papads, pickles

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