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The DASH Diet

by Suz on May 1, 2012 · 11 comments

in Books, Food, Health

One of the things I liked so much when I started researching about Paleo, was the ease and simplicity. The books basically tell you to eat a simple diet, of the natural foods we’ve evolved to eat. I found there really was nothing confusing or contentious. As well as reading the Paleo and Evolutionary health books – I read everything else I could find on nutrition. There is a book for every fad diet imaginable, with completely conflicting and confusing advice. Some of the diets just seem downright complicated to follow and devoid of any logic.

One of the bestselling diet books in Australia at the moment is about the “DASH Diet”, so I couldn’t resist taking a look. I’ve noticed the newer fad diets seem to be more closely resembling Paleo, so I always hold out hope that books like this will be about Paleo, but with a different name.

DASH stands for “Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension” and is aimed at those suffering from High Blood Pressure, though it also has a significant focus on weight loss. I had high hopes when I picked up the book – but it quickly became apparent that the book is based on the flawed food pyramid. The plan recommends a diet high in fruit, low-fat dairy and whole grains. It also advises avoiding processed food and limiting (not eliminating) sugar.

Menu Suggestions Menu Suggestions on the DASH diet – Insulin for Breakfast, Anyone?

While the DASH diet is based on studies, these studies only compared three different nutritional plans. Unfortunately they don’t give the specific meal plans for each of the diets in the study, just the macro nutrient profiles – and some of the micronutrient profiles. From this it’s apparent the DASH diet had 10% less fat than the other diets (taken entirely as Saturated fat), with the 10% added onto the protein and carbohydrate consumed. Without knowing exactly what they ate, this is rather meaningless. Cheap, commercial chocolate is high in saturated fat – as is butter – they clearly aren’t equal, yet this study doesn’t allow us to differentiate.

The book is full of un-Paleo recommendations such as only eating whole-grain bread, avoiding coconut oil, trimming all visible fat off meat and only eating low-fat dairy.

I’m sure someone coming from a highly processed SAD diet would (initially) see benefits on a DASH diet – but only because they had cut out processed foods, sugars and therefore reduced their carbohydrate intake. It saddens me that unwell people follow this diet in good faith – when it isn’t based on good science – and certainly doesn’t seem optimal.

What do you make of the DASH diet and the other fad diets out there?

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Gena May 1, 2012 at 8:29 pm

I always find the idea there will be a diet that works perfectly and quickly and everyone is trying to find the secret. It’s what sells the latest books.
The best book I have read so far is ‘Sweet poison’ well explained makes a good read.

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Gena May 1, 2012 at 8:37 pm

Sorry I forgot to say the author of the book I found inspiring, Sweet Poison, is David Gillespie. Well worth a read it really makes sense.

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Suz July 15, 2012 at 11:33 am

I really enjoyed that book too Gena

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Gaby May 2, 2012 at 4:26 pm

Interesting. Cereal and Cheerios certainly qualify as processed foods in my book. Non-fat milk, too.

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Suz July 15, 2012 at 11:33 am

Agreed Gaby!

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Elissa May 2, 2012 at 10:18 pm

David Gillespie’s book Sweet Poison is what started me on my sugar free journey late last year. Firstly it was eliminating processed foods and anything with more than 3gm of sugar per 100gm, what drew me was the fact that he said that this isnt a quick fix, its not a diet its a lifestyle that is easy to maintain for life, its not a promise its not a gimmick, it works just avoid sugar, anything artificial and your body will love you. I love David’s new book Big Fat Lies which talks about seed oils and how canola, processed oils and margarine are dangerous to our health and explains the science behind it. that really scared me so when I read that book I thought hang on what can I do furtherr to improve my health then I discovered this Paleo website and Marks Daily Apple, Sarah Wilson, Christine Cronau, Robb Wolf, Wheat Belly and I was hooked just like sugar to discover this new way of living! I can never go back to my SAD foods ever ever again, not after what I have learnt.

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Suz July 15, 2012 at 11:35 am

I think a lot of people get on board after reading David Gillespie. His books are so well written.

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Gena May 3, 2012 at 9:09 am

Thanks for that tip Elissa, I think David Gillespie’s new book will be the next one I read.

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Suz July 15, 2012 at 11:36 am

Let us know how you find it Gena!

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Amy S May 7, 2012 at 7:51 am

I agree that David Guillespie’s books are fantastic. I followed a similar order of inspiration: Sweet Poison, Nourishing Traditions/WAP, Sarah Wilson, Mark’s Daily Apple then all things Paleo. David’s new book about fats.

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Suz July 15, 2012 at 11:37 am

Nourishing Traditions is a great read

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