Showing posts with label Osteoporosis. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Osteoporosis. Show all posts

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Health Benefits of Salt? Actually, Yes!

It may seem almost like sacrilege to suggest that salt could have health benefits. After all, in many articles and studies, sodium (a significant component of salt) has been named as the culprit in such crimes to our health as high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, stomach cancer, and osteoporosis. But not all the research agrees on the health risks of salt:
  • A 2011 meta-analysis found no strong connection between reducing salt to reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke, not only among those with normal blood pressure, but also those with high blood pressure.
  • A 2014 meta-analysis determined that both low sodium intakes and high sodium intakes are associated with increased mortality.
  • A 2013 study found that those on a low-sodium diet were more likely to experience heart failure than those on a high-sodium diet.
  • A report from the Institute of Medicine found no evidence that a low sodium diet (below 2.300 grams) reduced the likelihood of cardiovascular disease.
  • A 2014 study involving data from over 100,000 individuals found that those who consume below 3 grams of sodium daily had nearly a third higher risk of death, heart attack, or stroke compared to those who consumed between 3 and 6 grams.
In spite of most people believing that salt is bad for you, its primary element – sodium – is a mineral. Like many other minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium, salt can be beneficial for most of us. In the right amount, it's even fundamental to good health.

Often, the problem with salt consumption is not what salt is, but rather how much salt we consume, or, as some believe, what kind of salt we consume.

How much is too much salt?

Your maximum salt intake will depend on a number of variables, including your overall diet, health, family history, ethnicity, and the amount and type of exercise you get. 

For example, according to this medical report, potassium intake matters a great deal, as potassium can counteract the blood pressure risks of a high salt intake. A high potassium intake relaxes blood vessels, which helps your body excrete sodium and decrease blood pressure.

The problem is that the average American eats about 6 to 10 grams of salt daily, even as the recommendation (from such sources as World Health Organization, the American Heart Association, and many U.S. government agencies) for healthy adults is less than 2.3 mg of sodium per day.

Even as there may be disagreement in the medical research regarding whether or not low sodium diets are better for the average person, there is general agreement that a daily sodium consumption above 6-7 grams increases certain health risks.

Types of salt

Dietary salt, or table salt, is used in food to preserve and flavor it. Its primary component is sodium chloride – about 40 percent.

The most common forms of salt you can buy at your local supermarket include:
  • Regular table salt – Ordinary table salt, which is generally the most affordable kind of salt, is processed under heat and bleaching to remove all elements but its sodium chloride content and to make it white. The processing usually involves giving salt additives, such as iodine.
  • Sea salt – Sea salt is effectively evaporated seawater, minimally or not processed, and therefore will contain trace mineral levels (notably calcium, magnesium, and potassium) not present in regular table salt. Some sea salts have less sodium by volume because of their larger crystal size.
  • Himalayan pink salt – Pink in color, Himalayan pink salt is a rock salt, often preferred by health advocates because it is not as processed as table salt and, therefore, contains many other healthy substances, such as trace minerals. In a chemical analysis, Himalayan salt is shown to have more than 80 trace minerals and other elements.
Many health experts recommend that you get your salt from natural sources, in order to avoid additives and to benefit from salt’s other compounds that are often lost or removed in processing.

Sodium/Salt Health Risks

As with any dietary change, you are advised to speak with your physician or another qualified health provider who can answer questions and give advice based on the specifics of your medical condition.

Generally, consuming salt in moderation is safe. Those who should consume even less than the standard recommended amount include:
  • Individuals over 50 years of age
  • Those with high blood pressure
  • Individuals with diabetes or chronic kidney disease
  • African Americans
Those in these high risk groups are generally advised to consume less than 1,500 mg (1.5 grams) of sodium per day.

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Osteoporosis - No Bones About It

Osteoporosis. That's a word that makes many people very anxious. It’s a common health issue in our society that leads to disability for many senior citizens, especially older women. Many of us have an elderly parent or grandparent who has fallen and suffered a fracture or who has trouble with the simple tasks of getting up from a chair and walking a short distance.

In the past, we believed that brittle bones and their resulting fractures were just a normal part of aging.  Now however, we know that these problems can be the result of risk factors, some are lifestyle habits that can be changed, like bad diet, smoking, too much alcohol or lack of exercise.Others are factors over which we have no control, like family history, post-menopause, having a light weight or thin body frame.

What is Osteoporosis?

Since bone is a living tissue, it is constantly being created and replaced in our bodies. Osteoporosis happens when old bone is absorbed faster than new bone can be created.  Osteoporosis weakness bones and makes them prone to breaking. When you have osteoporosis, a simple fall can easily result in a bone fracture.  Just bending over or coughing can cause fracturing when you have osteoporosis.  Most fractures happen in the hip, wrist or spine.

According to The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases ~ National Resource Center, more than 40 million people either already have osteoporosis or are at high risk due to low bone mass.  That risk increases if you are female, elderly, small and thin.  Family history can also play a part since osteoporosis tends to run in families. 

Can Osteoporosis by prevented?

There are steps you can take to reduce your chances of developing osteoporosis.  These include early screening, osteoporosis medications, dietary supplements and weight-bearing exercises to strengthen your bones. 

Get Screened

The National Osteoporosis Foundation lists the following factors for having a bone density test:

calcium vitamin D
Mary Carr, diagnosed with Osteoporosis at age 65.
  • You are a woman age 65 or over
  • You are a man age 70 or over
  • Menopausal age with risk factors
  • Post-menopausal before age 65 with risk factors
  • A man between the ages of 50-69 with risk factors

Consider getting tested for osteopenia – a precursor to osteoporosis.  Osteopenia is a condition in which your bone mineral density is lower than normal.  A bone mineral density test can be used to diagnose osteoporosis.  Having Osteopenia does not mean you will develop osteoporosis, but knowing this gives you the chance to change your diet and lifestyle to reduce your likelihood of developing osteoporosis.  

At this point, you might be wondering if your insurance will cover a bone density test. Well, if you are a woman age 65 and over, it probably is covered. However, if you are younger and feel you are at risk, what can you do?  According to the WebMd, the test will be covered if you have one or more of the following risk factors:

  •     A fracture
  •     You are postmenopausal
  •     You are not taking estrogen at menopause
  •     You are taking medications that cause bone thinning

You should check with your insurance provider to be certain that the test will be covered for you. However, even though there may be a cost involved, the information you get from having this valuable test will pay for itself in years to come. You will have the peace of mind of knowing that you have a chance to reverse and prevent bone loss before it is too late.

Using a walker to get around, my mom used to be 5'4", now
she's 5'. Bone shrinkage due to Osteoporosis caused
curvature of the spine and painful compression fractures
in her back.

Weight-bearing Exercises

  • Walking
  • Hiking
  • Jogging or running  
  • Climbing stairs
  • Lifting weights
  • Playing tennis
  • Dancing 

Calcium and Vitamin D

Eat a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D to reduce your chances of developing osteoporosis.  Get vitamin D by eating foods such as salmon and tuna and foods fortified with vitamin D like orange juice, breads and cereals. Read our FamilyWize article Got Milk? Don’t Worry-Lot’s of Foods Are Calcium Rich!   for a list of foods that are great calcium sources.

Discounted Osteoporosis Medication

You may qualify for significant discounts – up to 75% off – on prescription medication for osteoporosis through the free FamilyWize prescription discount card.  

Some medications taken for common ailments like heartburn can affect osteoporosis, according to WebMd. Corticosteroids, such as Prednisone, could raise fracture risks. If you have osteoporosis or you are at risk to develop it, you should discuss this with your doctor. There may be an alternative medication that does not affect osteoporosis, or other measures you could take, like diet and exercise, that may counteract the affects of the medication.

You can also speak with your doctor to get more information and a better understanding of your risks. 

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer