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Positive effects: DASH diet significantly increased life expectancy


Evidence of positive effects of diets on life expectancy
The effects of nutrition on health are extremely far-reaching, and even minor improvements in the diet plan can bring significant health benefits in the long term. In a recent US study, the DASH diet, which was actually developed to relieve hypertension, was clearly associated with a reduced risk of death within the study period.

For people with high blood pressure, the German Hypertension League has long been recommending the so-called DASH diet (DASH = Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), since previous studies have already shown that this diet has a hypotensive effect and can support the use of medicines in a meaningful way. Now US researchers around Mercedes Sotos-Prieto from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in a comprehensive study found that the DASH diet also has a positive effect on life expectancy in general. The scientists published their study results in the journal "The New England Journal of Medicine".

Influence of diet often underestimated
According to Professor Dr. Bernhard Krämer, CEO of the German Hypertension League, often underestimates the influence of nutrition on health and "many patients who develop high blood pressure in middle age are difficult to convince themselves of a change in diet." Although studies have clearly shown that the so-called DASH diet can efficiently lower high blood pressure.

How does the DASH diet work?
With the DASH diet, the food plan provides for an increased consumption of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and low-fat milk products, according to the German High Pressure League. Poultry and fish, nuts and legumes are also allowed and there are only restrictions on foods containing sugar and sweet drinks, as well as red meat and fatty acids. The DASH diet was originally "a fat-modified diet with plenty of vegetables and fruit" and in further studies it was then combined with a reduction in salt consumption, explains Professor Krämer.

Three diet types examined
In the current US study, the effects of three different diet types were examined on the 47,994 participants in the Nurses ’Health Study and the 25,745 participants in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. In addition to the DASH diet, a Mediterranean diet and a diet according to the recommendations of the US government (Alternate Healthy Eating Index – 2010) were part of the study. According to Professor Dr. med. Joachim Hoyer, Clinic Director of the Clinic for Internal Medicine, Nephrology and Internal Intensive Care Medicine, Marburg, “the three diets are similar, with the difference that the DASH diet is the only one that focuses on avoiding salt.”

Reduced risk of death in the study period
A positive effect on life expectancy was found for all three diet forms. This was also the case if the diet was not continuously followed within the twelve-year study period. However, with each approximation of the ideal form of diet by 20 percent, the risk of death decreased by almost ten percent within the study period. The reduced salt consumption alone is probably not responsible for the beneficial effect, explains Professor Hoyer. Rather, all components are probably equally important in the DASH diet.

The US study clearly shows that improved dietary compliance has additional positive effects on life expectancy. According to Professor Krämer, it is a common mistake on diets that they are only observed temporarily. Every diet requires “a permanent, lifelong change in eating habits,” and this also applies to the DASH diet. (fp)

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Video: Healthy Heights: The DASH Diet (January 2022).