The DASH diet (dietary approaches to stop hypertension) is a dietary pattern used to control hypertension. The diet is designed to use a variety of foods including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, meats, fish, nuts, and low fat dairy options. DASH limits sugar and sweeteners, added fats and excessive red meat.

The DASH diet was created in 1992 by the National Institutes on Health to help balance out and reduce the amount of hypertensives in the US.  According to current statistics, high blood pressure affects roughly 50 million Americans. That’s close to twice as many residents as the entire state of Texas. Worldwide, close to 1 billion humans are dealing with hypertension.

Up until recently, the diet was only though to help lower blood pressure and risk of stroke, but now research is showing a clear link between DASH diet participants and a reduced prevalence of depression.  According to doctors at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago the DASH diet may have the dual benefit of not only protecting the heart, but also boosting the mood and lifting depression.  The study indicated an 11% reduction in depression for those that adhere to the DASH diet. 

This study will be formally presented in April and will go into greater detail the challenges of late life depression especially post stroke and heart attack. Awareness around seniors and their health is still skewed heavily towards the physical, but as people age and end up losing people close to them, it is easy for loneliness and depression to take hold.

While this study focuses on seniors with a mean age of 81, it is not a far reach to assume that diet and nutrition has a powerful effect on all of our bodies and minds. Regardless of our age and current health status, the choices we make are crucial so understanding the pitfalls of diet can make or break our health status. As usual we want to avoid sugar and added sweeteners. Healthy fats like avocados, nuts, olive oil and ghee are not the enemy but fried greasy fats and cakes and cookies are.  Ideally we drink more water than any other liquid in a day, and keep our alcohol intake to none or very little. 

Treating food as medicine and making healthy choices will undoubtedly extend our lives and make us happier more present individuals. As tempting as the junk food can be, when we make healthy food choices instead, we always feel better afterword. 


(Christian Cristiano is an acupuncturist in LA TV host of Wellness for Realists and writes on wellness regularly for CityWatch. Christian can be reached at 310.909.6956 twitter: @CristianoWFR )



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