Archive for the ‘salt restriction’ Category

Secrets For the Salt Sensitive

January 5, 2013

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I am a baby boomer and have joined the middle age club. I have a history of heart disease in my family and both parents were hypertensive. As a result I’m very salt sensitive. Salt added to your diet tends to hold onto water and increase your blood volume thus making your heart work harder to pump blood throughout the body. For those of you who have high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease, or are just salt sensitive, here are a few suggestions for limiting the salt intake in your diet.

You can easily tick off a list of salty, sodium-rich foods: potato chips, popcorn, hot dogs, pizza, pickles, and more. But there are plenty of high-sodium foods you probably aren’t aware of. According to the Centers for Disease Control, Americans get almost one-third of their sodium from breads and rolls, chicken and chicken dishes, pizza, egg dishes, and pasta dishes. That’s partly because these foods contain added salt and partly because we eat them so often. Here’s another staggering number: up to 80% of the salt in your food was put there by someone other than you.

Why does salt matter? Your body needs a little bit of the sodium in salt to contract muscles, send nerve impulses, and maintain a healthy balance of fluids. But too much sodium can increase blood pressure, make the heart work harder, thicken and stiffen blood vessels, and more. Higher salt and sodium consumption have been linked to increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
How can you avoid these hidden salt mines? Read food labels carefully. Look at both the amount of sodium per serving and the recommended daily sodium allowance percentage. Shop for products labeled “salt free,” or “no salt added,” or “low-sodium.” Avoid condiments such as soy sauce, ketchup, teriyaki sauce, and salad dressings, which tend to be loaded with salt.

Another good strategy is to limit your use of prepared and processed foods, which tend to be made with a lot of salt. Adding more fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables to your diet can also lower sodium and increase potassium.
Restaurant foods are often loaded with salt. Many restaurants now offer low-sodium choices. If your food is being made to order, don’t hesitate to ask that it be made without salt.

Use Ms. Dash or potassium containing salt substitutes. (Potassium salt substitutes should be avoided in patients with chronic renal failure) Try filling your salt shaker with a low- or no-sodium salt, or replace it with a shaker full of herbs and spices or a squeeze of lemon.

Bottom Line: Although salt may make food taste better, it can be hazardous to your health. If you are salt sensitive, consider alternatives that don’t affect the flavor of your foods but do protect your heart and lower your blood pressure.

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Putting a Lid On Your Hypertension

July 29, 2012

An alarming one in three American adults has high blood pressure. Known medically as hypertension, many people don’t even know they have it, because high blood pressure has no symptoms or warning signs. But when elevated blood pressure is accompanied by abnormal cholesterol and blood sugar levels, the damage to your arteries, kidneys, and heart accelerates exponentially. Fortunately, high blood pressure is easy to detect and treat. Sometimes people can keep blood pressure in a healthy range simply by making lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, increasing activity, and eating more healthfully.

Maintaining a healthy blood pressure is vital for good health. Keeping yours below 120/80 is the ideal goal for dodging a host of afflictions, including heart disease, kidney failure, and, yes, even erectile dysfunction.
But about half of all Americans with high blood pressure (hypertension) have not reached their goals, reports the July 2012 issue of the Harvard Men’s Health Watch.
Many men can improve their health with lifestyle changes such as weight loss, decreasing the salt intake in their diet, and a good dose of daily exercise.
One of the easiest ways to decrease your blood pressure with almost immediate results is to reduce your salt intake. Salt holds more water in the body and increases the work on the heart to pump the extra water load. The medically proven DASH diet keeps sodium to 2,300 milligrams per day (about one teaspoon of salt). Cutting it to 1,500—not easy, but doable—works even better. The DASH diet can lower your systolic pressure (upper number) by 10 points or more. The DASH diet eating plan has been proven to lower blood pressure in studies sponsored by the National Institutes of Health. In addition to being a low salt (or low sodium) plan, the DASH diet provides additional benefits to reduce blood pressure. It is based on an eating plan rich in fruits and vegetables, and low-fat or non-fat dairy, with whole grains. It is a high fiber, low to moderate fat diet, rich in potasium, calcium, and magnesium.
A second suggestion is to check your blood pressure in your home and not in the doctor’s office. Blood pressure tends to rise a few points when it is taken in the doctor’s office. We even have a name for this slight elevation: white coat hypertension. Checking blood pressure at home with an appropriate device can give you instant feedback on the benefits of diet and exercise and give you a more accurate picture of your blood pressure.
Limit your alcohol intake. Drinking too much alcohol can raise blood pressure. For men, the suggested limit is one to two alcoholic drinks per day, defined as 1.5 ounces (1 shot glass) of 80-proof spirits, a 5-ounce serving of wine, or a 12-ounce serving of beer. (For women it’s no more than one drink a day.)
Take more meds if you need to—but take the right ones. Many people who are already taking one or two hypertension medications ultimately come into control only when taking three or even four medications. But they need to be the right drugs. Your doctor should combine medications that work to lower blood pressure in different ways.

Bottom Line: Blood pressure is a silent killer and can affect more than your heart. This can be controlled with life style changes and when this is ineffective, then medication prescribed by your doctor can help.