Saturday, December 16, 2006

SALT – Silent Alarming Longevity Threat

Mid of this year, during Japan Hemodialysis conference at Yokohama, I had an opportunity to attend the presentation of Prof Stanley Sheldon – Pioneer figure in Hemo Dialysis. His talk on SALT’s havoc on our body was so profound that now whenever I pick up a salt dispenser or order potato chips or observe sauces poured on spaghetti, I watch it with trepidation

We all are concerned of elevated sugar, cholesterol levels. We fear Diabetes, Coronary artery blockages. But we needn’t worry. Medical science is already advanced to offer us a remedy for this and in some cases a reversible cure with products like Artificial Pancreas (Insulin Pump), Lipid Removal drugs and Cardiac Interventional Procedures. But scenario with SALT is different. SALT is what we should be worried about. Our body during whole day doesn’t need more than 5gm of SALT per day and in one helping we stuff our body with excess.

Where does this excess SALT go? Can we take it out?

When sodium intake exceeds the amount the body can handle, it builds up in the interstitial areas and the kidneys have to work extra hard to excrete it. An extra fluid around the cells contributes to increased blood pressure and also excess weight gain from water. We don’t look abnormal with water retention as body’s tissues have plenty of capacity to hold excess water. This extra fluid is what makes one look fat. The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for SALT is about 2,300 mg - slightly more than one teaspoon. While SALT is naturally present in many foods but our penchant to use food additives makes us go overboard. In fact, in our body, 75% of the excess SALT is from processed foods, with just 10 per cent from SALT we add during cooking and the remaining 15 per cent that occurs naturally in food. So more we eat processed food, we are bringing our Kidneys to knees.

There is no way we can take excess SALT from our body. SALT increases Blood Pressure. Drugs that bring the pressure down don’t do anything with SALT but just dilate the vessels and reduce pressure on walls.

Be watchful of processed food industry. They play havoc with our health and bring all of us closer to the door of death. Fast food mfrs bend backwards in offering Maha Burger at throw away prices. What they do is just add extra SALT in the burger and make it bigger. SALT absorbs water and adds to its weight. So is the case with every processed food mfr who sell their products by weight. Just imagine, how much SALT is added to pickles to preserve it. Most common preservative is SALT to increase shelf life of the product. And we love to buy products with longer shelf life. How foolish are we!!!

A lot has been said and written to put the warning sign on processed foods but Food industry with silent backing of Pharmaceutical Industry would make it difficult for any Govt to pass the legislation. After all, they are the biggest fund contributors to all political parties In US; however, they have started putting warning signs on salted peanuts, almonds and pistachios.

So what do we do after having deposited enough of SALTS in our body? We can’t bring down the level but we can slow down their rising to alarming levels.

We often complain that without SALT, food is unpalatable. Prof Sheldon says, it’s incorrect. In fact SALT is dominant in anasthesiasing our other taste buds. When we say the food gets palatable, we only appreciate taste of SALT. Other tastes are all numbed. Once we cut down the SALT intake, it takes 2-3 months to reduce dominance of SALT on taste buds. Slowly, we start understanding and appreciating the taste of raw food. Try it and we can see the dramatic difference.

Prof Sheldon has proved that by mere cutting down SALT, he has brought down BP and Hemodialysis patients have increased longevity. Margaret Wilde writes in her blog about ‘salt and obesity’ and her own personal expereince.“I became aware that there was a lot of salt in bread and cheese and breakfast cereals. Because of the connection between hypertension and salt intake I altered my eating to reduce, and eventually to exclude, all avoidable sodium. This lowered my BP & I no longer needed to take ATENOLOL. More spectacularly, and very unexpectedly to me, eating less salt reduced my weight by 51 pounds! -This was nothing to do with calories, fat or sugar. The weight I lost was clearly water, that was held in my body.”

Soviet specialists prescribe "no salt" for people who have diseases of heart and kidney. They have found that even some common ailments like bronchitis and skin eruptions are helped, by giving up salt. The theory seems that, giving up salt relieves the kidneys, heart and even certain glands, from the chemical work of forever removing excess salts out of the body via urine. Excess of salt also interferes with the elimination of certain wastes from the body like uric acid and therefore contributing indirectly to diseases like gout.

Prof Sheldon showed that Urban Japanese who use SALT very heavily suffer from higher death rate from strokes (due to high BP) compared with rural ones who don’t have SALT. Natives of South Pacific, who eat no salt ever, almost ever have high blood pressure or strokes. Blacks in the USA, are heavy salt takers, and have three times more BP problems than Whites in the same areas. If every one went on a low salt diet, BP related diseases would fall by 50%. These diseases kill far more people than cancer.

According to Prof Sheldon, Indians have become victim of blatant imitation of US lifestyle. In old days, Indian ate fresh food and people labored in the fields. Now the situation is different. In the guise of economic liberalization, we are bringing processed food industry to create havoc with our health. Japanese doctors jocularly mention popularity of McDonald’s fast food joints in Japan is a silent revenge by Americans of attack on Pearl Harbor.

Which products are high SALT bearers: Baking Soda, Baking Powder, Brine, Broth, MSG (Ajinomoto) Soya Sauce. Common foods and their average sodium amounts: Table Salt (1/4 teaspoon) 580mg ; Ketchup (2Tbsp) 380mg ; Bacon (3 slices) 435mg ; Canned Soup (2 cups) 1880mg ; Pickle (1) 833mg ; Salad dressing, commercial brands (4 Tbsp) 860mg ;Soya sauce (1 Tbsp) 1014mg ;Chicken Broth (1 cup) 980mg

Here are some basics to stay away from danger:

When you order chips, ask not to pour SALT on top
After regular workout in Gym, don’t have drinks supplement containing SALT. Only manual labourers or sportsmen who work in beating sun need SALT replenishments.
Sauces, Dressings contain huge SALT. Watch out before you pour.
Sea food already contains lot of SALT, don’t add any more.
Fruits, vegetables, lean meant, beans, whole grains have little sodium. Do with little extra salt. Rinse salt from canned foods.
Sparingly eat canned soups or broths or 2 minute noodles.
Switch to low-sodium margarine, or low-salt butter.
Avoid salted nuts, chips, pickles and other snack foods.
The best way to protect yourself is to prepare meals at home. If you do eat processed foods, check the labels carefully -- and aim for a daily dose of 2,400 mg of sodium or less from all your food sources.

Watch out when you eat Indian Chinese food. You are eating processed noodles, lots of MSG (Ajinomoto) and Soya Sauce. Ever thought why you feel thirsty after Chinese Meal?

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Anonymous ketan tendulkar said...

This was very useful and will literally save a lot of lives.

Must pass this on to my wife....
for salt source control !!


3:05 PM  
Anonymous rocky said...

nicely presented,good review , good keep it up.
keep writing.and video-ing.... ... .......... ......... ... .. ... . ..................... ........... .:)

3:07 PM  
Anonymous jaideep said...

yep MSG is more harmful than NaCl... and most of the chinese dishes have MSG.

am i right?
good revu...

3:08 PM  

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