Wednesday, December 21, 2005

We're listenin'...but not doin'

Americans consume far too much sodium.

Despite counseling by physicians, Americans still consume far too much sodium, putting them at risk for high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke, according to a study in the latest issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

People with hypertension took in 3,330 mg of sodium a day, and people without hypertension consumed 3,600 mg a day, far more than the 2,400 mg maximum recommended by the American Heart Association and other groups.

Survey participants were also asked if their doctors had ever advised them about dietary sodium. There was no difference in sodium intake between patients advised about sodium consumption and those not advised.

I must admit that it's so darn hard to cut the sodium intake. However, it can be done. We need to eat more primitively.

"Hunter-gatherer consumption of electrolytes was essentially the inverse of modern
tendencies, with relatively elevated levels of potassium and greatly reduced (by nearly an order of magnitude) intake of sodium.
This observation is explained both by the high potassium content of wild game and uncultivated plants and the fact that hunter-gatherers typically had no access to sodium chloride other than that contained in their primary foods. The relatively high ratio of potassium to sodium contained in the hunter-gatherer diet is significant because it may explain the virtual absence of essential hypertension and age-related elevations in bloodpressure in those groups."

To start this process of cutting sodium and upping the potassium, start with the DASH diet. Note, however, that if your are on an ace inhibitor or angiotensin-receptor blocker, you should up your potassium intake slowly and let your doctor know. These classes cause potassium retention. So, get a routine metabolic panel, also called a blood chemistry, to check your blood potassium level.

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