Nav: Home

If your diet fails, try again; your heart will thank you

November 13, 2018

During the holiday season, it can be difficult for even the most determined of us to stick to a healthy diet. A piece of Halloween candy here, a pumpkin spice latte there, and suddenly we're left feeling like we forgot what vegetables taste like.

Our weight isn't the only aspect of our health that can fluctuate during times like these. According to a new article in the journal Nutrients, risk factors for cardiovascular disease closely track with changes in eating patterns, even only after a month or so.

"If you're inconsistent about what kinds of foods you eat, your risk factors for developing these diseases are going to fluctuate," said Wayne Campbell, a professor of nutrition science at Purdue University. "Even in the short term, your food choices influence whether you're going to have a successful or unsuccessful visit with your doctor."

Diet failure isn't an anomaly, it's the norm, and there are a variety of reasons for that. This can lead to repetitive attempts of adopting, but not maintaining, healthy eating patterns.

To assess how these diet fluctuations affect risk factors for diabetes and cardiovascular disease, such as blood pressure and cholesterol, Campbell's team looked to two previous studies (also led by Campbell at Purdue). The research study participants adopted either a DASH-style eating pattern (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) or a Mediterranean-style eating pattern.

"Our DASH-style eating pattern focused on controlling sodium intake, while our Mediterranean-style focused on increasing healthy fats," said Lauren O'Connor, the lead author of the paper. "Both eating patterns were rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains."

Participants adopted a healthy eating pattern for five or six weeks and then had their risk factors measured. The study participants then returned to their normal eating patterns for four weeks and came back for a checkup. After adopting a healthy eating pattern again for another five or six weeks, participants had their risk factors assessed one last time.

The results look almost exactly as you'd expect: like a cardiovascular rollercoaster. How fast the participants' health started to improve after adopting a healthier diet is impressive, though. It only takes a few weeks of healthy eating to generate lower blood pressure and cholesterol.

"These findings should encourage people to try again if they fail at their first attempt to adopt a healthy eating pattern," Campbell said. "It seems that your body isn't going to become resistant to the health-promoting effects of this diet pattern just because you tried it and weren't successful the first time. The best option is to keep the healthy pattern going, but if you slip up, try again."

The long-term effects of adopting and abandoning healthy eating patterns on cardiovascular disease are unknown. Research on weight cycling suggests that when people who are overweight repeatedly attempt to lose weight, quit, and try again, that may be more damaging to their long-term health than if they maintained a steady weight. To know if long-term health effects of cycling between eating patterns raise similar concerns, further studies are needed.
-end-
Researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the University of Colorado contributed to this work. The studies were funded by the Pork Checkoff, the Beef Checkoff, with support from the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute Clinical Research Center.

Purdue University

Related Blood Pressure Articles:

Here's something that will raise your blood pressure
The apelin receptor (APJ) has been presumed to play an important role in the contraction of blood vessels involved in blood pressure regulation.
New strategy for treating high blood pressure
The key to treating blood pressure might lie in people who are 'resistant' to developing high blood pressure even when they eat high salt diets, shows new research published today in Experimental Physiology.
Arm cuff blood pressure measurements may fall short for predicting heart disease risk in some people with resistant high blood pressure
A measurement of central blood pressure in people with difficult-to-treat high blood pressure could help reduce risk of heart disease better than traditional arm cuff readings for some patients, according to preliminary research presented at the American Heart Association's Hypertension 2019 Scientific Sessions.
Heating pads may lower blood pressure in people with high blood pressure when lying down
In people with supine hypertension due to autonomic failure, a condition that increases blood pressure when lying down, overnight heat therapy significantly decreased systolic blood pressure compared to a placebo.
The Lancet Neurology: High blood pressure and rising blood pressure between ages 36-53 are associated with smaller brain volume and white matter lesions in later years
A study of the world's oldest, continuously-studied birth cohort tracked blood pressure from early adulthood through to late life and explored its influence on brain pathologies detected using brain scanning in their early 70s.
Blood pressure control is beneficial, is it not?
Until recently, physicians had generally assumed that older adults benefit from keeping their blood pressure below 140/90 mmHg.
The 'blue' in blueberries can help lower blood pressure
A new study published in the Journal of Gerontology Series A has found that eating 200g of blueberries every day for a month can lead to an improvement in blood vessel function and a decrease in systolic blood pressure in healthy people.
How to classify high blood pressure in pregnancy?
The American Heart Association (AHA) and the American College of Cardiology (ACC) changed their guidance to lower the threshold criteria for hypertension in adults.
Discovery could advance blood pressure treatments
A team of Vanderbilt University Medical Center researchers, working with the US Department of Veteran's Affairs (VA), has discovered genetic associations with blood pressure that could guide future treatments for patients with hypertension.
Blue light can reduce blood pressure
Exposure to blue light decreases blood pressure, reducing the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, a new study from the University of Surrey and Heinrich Heine University Dusseldorf in collaboration with Philips reports.
More Blood Pressure News and Blood Pressure Current Events

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2019.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Accessing Better Health
Essential health care is a right, not a privilege ... or is it? This hour, TED speakers explore how we can give everyone access to a healthier way of life, despite who you are or where you live. Guests include physician Raj Panjabi, former NYC health commissioner Mary Bassett, researcher Michael Hendryx, and neuroscientist Rachel Wurzman.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#544 Prosperity Without Growth
The societies we live in are organised around growth, objects, and driving forward a constantly expanding economy as benchmarks of success and prosperity. But this growing consumption at all costs is at odds with our understanding of what our planet can support. How do we lower the environmental impact of economic activity? How do we redefine success and prosperity separate from GDP, which politicians and governments have focused on for decades? We speak with ecological economist Tim Jackson, Professor of Sustainable Development at the University of Surrey, Director of the Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Propserity, and author of...
Now Playing: Radiolab

An Announcement from Radiolab