Lowering salt intake to improve health may backfire

Original article from eba.benefitnews.com

By Anna Edney

Lowering sodium intake, a drumbeat of doctors’ efforts to improve patient health, may have the opposite effect if taken to the extreme, scientists said.

U.S. dietary guidelines to reduce sodium intake to 1,500 milligrams a day for certain people aren’t supported by enough scientific evidence, an Institute of Medicine panel said in a recent report. Studies reviewed by the panel didn’t prove health outcomes improved when salt consumption was cut to that level.

“Lowering sodium intake too much may actually increase a person’s risk of some health problems,” says Brian Strom, the panel chairman and a public health professor at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. The studies still “support previous findings that reducing sodium from very high intake levels to moderate levels improves health.”

Adults consume an average 3,400 milligrams of salt each day. The U.S. recommends 2,300 milligrams for the general public and as low as 1,500 milligrams for those with high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease, black people and people older than age 50. The American Heart Association, which advises 1,500 milligrams for everyone, challenged the report.

“The report is missing a critical component — a comprehensive review of well-established evidence which links too much sodium to high blood pressure and heart disease,” says Nancy Brown, chief executive officer of the association.

In addition, studies that don’t show a benefit on heart disease or adverse effects were conducted on sick people, the Dallas-based association said in a statement.

Complex changes

The IOM panel said it looked at studies that measured health outcomes such as heart disease and death rather than high blood pressure as an indicator of heart disease.

“These studies make clear that looking at sodium’s effects on blood pressure is not enough to determine dietary sodium’s ultimate impact on health,” Strom says. “Changes in diet are more complex than simply changing a single mineral. More research is needed to understand these pathways.”

The report recognizes that blood pressure is only one of many factors that should be considered when evaluating dietary changes, the Salt Institute, an Alexandria, Virginia-based trade group that represents companies including Morton Salt Inc., said in a statement. Morton Satin, vice president of science and research for the Salt Institute, praised the report’s caution against reducing sodium to 1,500 milligrams.

Potential harm

“The recognition by the IOM experts that such low levels may cause harm may help steer overzealous organizations away from reckless recommendations,” Satin says.

The panel’s report didn’t list what a healthy sodium range would be, and the authors said further research is needed on associations between lower levels of sodium and health outcomes.

The Institute of Medicine, the health arm of the Washington-based nonprofit National Academies, provides medical advice to policy makers and the public. The report was sponsored by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

 


10 Tips to healthy eating and physical activity for you

Source: http://www.fitness.gov/10tips.htm

  1. Start your day with breakfast.Breakfast fills your "empty tank" to get you going after a long night without food. And it can help you do better in school. Easy to prepare breakfasts include cold cereal with fruit and low-fat milk, whole-wheat toast with peanut butter, yogurt with fruit, whole-grain waffles or even last night's pizza!
  2. Get Moving!It's easy to fit physical activities into your daily routine. Walk, bike or jog to see friends. Take a 10-minute activity break every hour while you read, do homework or watch TV. Climb stairs instead of taking an escalator or elevator. Try to do these things for a total of 30 minutes every day.
  3. Snack smart.Snacks are a great way to refuel. Choose snacks from different food groups - a glass of low-fat milk and a few graham crackers, an apple or celery sticks with peanut butter and raisins, or some dry cereal. If you eat smart at other meals, cookies, chips and candy are OK for occasional snacking.
  4. Work up a sweat.Vigorous work-outs - when you're breathing hard and sweating - help your heart pump better, give you more energy and help you look and feel best. Start with a warm-up that stretches your muscles. Include 20 minutes of aerobic activity, such as running, jogging, or dancing. Follow-up with activities that help make you stronger such as push-ups or lifting weights. Then cool-down with more stretching and deep breathing.
  5. Balance your food choices - don't eat too much of any one thing.You don't have to give up foods like hamburgers, french fries and ice cream to eat healthy. You just have to be smart about how often and how much of them you eat. Your body needs nutrients like protein, carbohydrates, fat and many different vitamins and minerals such as vitamins C and A, iron and calcium from a variety of foods. Balancing food choices from the Food Guide Pyramid and checking out the Nutrition Facts Panel on food labels will help you get all these nutrients.
  6. Get fit with friends or family.Being active is much more fun with friends or family. Encourage others to join you and plan one special physical activity event, like a bike ride or hiking, with a group each week.
  7. Eat more grains, fruits and vegetables.These foods give you carbohydrates for energy, plus vitamins, minerals and fiber. Besides, they taste good! Try breads such as whole-wheat, bagels and pita. Spaghetti and oatmeal are also in the grain group.Bananas, strawberries and melons are some great tasting fruits. Try vegetables raw, on a sandwich or salad.
  8. Join in physical activities at school.Whether you take a physical education class or do other physical activities at school, such as intramural sports, structures activities are a sure way to feel good, look good and stay physically fit.
  9. Foods aren't good or bad.A healthy eating style is like a puzzle with many parts. Each part -- or food -- is different. Some foods may have more fat, sugar or salt while others may have more vitamins or fiber. There is a place for all these foods. What makes a diet good or bad is how foods fit together. Balancing your choices is important. Fit in a higher-fat food, like pepperoni pizza, at dinner by choosing lower-fat foods at other meals. And don't forget about moderation. If two pieces of pizza fill you up, you don't need a third.
  10. Make healthy eating and physical activities fun!Take advantage of physical activities you and your friends enjoy doing together and eat the foods you like. Be adventurous - try new sports, games and other activities as well as new foods. You'll grow stronger, play longer, and look and feel better! Set realistic goals - don't try changing too much at once.