Most of us already know that too much salt isn’t a good thing. Yet what’s surprising is that despite decades of warnings to reduce sodium intake, Americans continue to over-consume the flavorful staple in most households. A new Harvard study shows that our salt intake really hasn’t changed over the past 50 years, and it seems like that intake is hardwired and not easy to change no matter how many PSAs or dietitian visits we have.
As more processed foods hit our shelves and as obesity rates continue to soar, it almost seems as though sodium levels would have continued to increase, not necessarily stay the same. Yet, after multiple studies were reviewed, all occuring between 1957 and 2003, it appears that 3700 milligrams of sodium was consistently consumed over the years. Of course, other measures of our sodium intake don’t necessarily reflect the same pattern. In fact, the NHANES, or National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, does indeed show an increase in salt consumption. The biggest difference between these survey results and that observed in the Harvard study is that the NHANES relies on food records where as the Harvard study took a look at urinary sodium output which is supposedly more accurate.
Current guidelines for sodium intake are 2300 milligrams a day for healthy adults and 1500 milligrams a day for those at risk of high blood pressure. That’s quite a difference. And although this message has been touted for over twenty years, it appears that few are following it or that these recommendations are too stringent for the majority of Americans.
Elevated sodium intake isn’t just occurring in American populations though. In fact, the average sodium intake appears to be similar on an international level. This means that there may be more to this whole sodium intake thing than we think. It also begs the question- are our recommendations wrong?
Most everyone can agree that they want to eat healthy. Of course, there are exceptions to this but, in general, it can be assumed that eating healthy and feeling great are goals most people have for themselves. Yet, purchasing healthy foods isn’t always the cheapest. In fact, if you aren’t careful, you can end up spending a lot of money on health foods that either go bad before you get a chance to eat them, or later find that you don’t enjoy them at all and end up being unable to finish them.
Luckily, there are many ways to save a buck in the grocery store. In fact, money saving has almost become its own sport in America with couponing becoming more popular year after year. In fact, US consumers have redeemed 3.5 billion in coupons and saved approximately 4.6 billion in 2011 alone. This is a 12% increase since 2010; however, are these savings helping people eat their best or just save money?
Although couponing and eating healthy may seem like two totally separate topics, they actually work very well together. Of course, you have to know how to best use your coupons and be able to identify what foods are worth the savings.
So you’ve lost the weight and you’ve achieved your goal – so now what? You’ve probably spent so much time thinking about your goal that you may not have thought too much about what to do after it was met. And although it’s easy to slip back into old eating habits, it’s also easy to gain back all that weight you worked so hard to lose in the first place. To keep that from happening, you need to have a plan – a maintenance plan. But how do you know what plan is right for you?
It’s Sustainable for the Long Haul.
Any maintenance plan you decide to follow should be something you can do today, tomorrow, and every day after that. If it’s overly restrictive, requires you to eat weird foods or incorporate foods you don’t love, you probably won’t stick with it for very long. To avoid going back to a less nutritious way of eating, keep your maintenance plan balanced and realistic.
It Doesn’t Eliminate Major Food Groups.
If you discover a maintenance plan that asks you to eliminate an entire food group from your eating plan, don’t walk, run away! Any type of diet or meal plan that restricts or eliminates whole food groups is often unbalanced and can result in nutritional deficiencies if you aren’t careful. Your body simply needs a wide variety of foods to function at its best. A decent maintenance plan should allow for all foods to be incorporated in some shape or form.
If you want to lose weight this year, you may want to consider consulting with a physician who’s BMI is within normal limits. According to a national cross-sectional survey of over 500 primary care physicians in the United States, those who struggle to maintain a healthy weight themselves are much less inclined to help others fight the battle of the bulge.
In most cases, it’s not that they don’t want to. Instead, it’s more likely that they either lack the confidence in themselves or feel that because of their own weight struggles, they assume that most patients won’t take them that seriously. Normal weight physicians feel similarly about their overweight colleagues and feel as though they themselves are better role models for patients. Whether this is truly the case or not, it really doesn’t matter. And although not all physicians are well-equipped to deal with weight management issues, it’s not fair or appropriate to assume that a doctor knows less because their weight isn’t ideal. It’s also not appropriate to assume that physicians who are at a healthy weight are better equipped to counsel their patients on nutrition and exercise-related matters.
Red is a fabulous color. It’s bright, bold, and down-right stunning. It’s also the official color of the Heart Truth campaign, by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and its partners to raise awareness about women’s risk for heart disease.
The Red Dress is the centerpiece of the campaign and was created as a national symbol in 2002. Its presence is meant to remind women that they need to protect their heart health and inspires them to take action. This Friday, February 3, everyone is encouraged to wear red to raise awareness for women’s heart disease.
The campaign is specifically targeted toward women ages 40 to 60; however, all women can benefit from the small changes encouraged as part of the campaign. Since heart disease develops gradually, it’s really never too early to start promoting healthy heart initiatives.
Some of the major risk factors for developing heart disease are obesity, physical inactivity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, a family history of heart disease, diabetes, and being over the age of 55. Although genetics can definitely play a role in susceptibility to these risk factors, changing lifestyle behaviors can also greatly impact an individuals likelihood of developing the condition.
Although eating a well-balanced diet, staying physically active, and keeping weight in check all seem like simple notions that most people know, it’s often hard to put those general principles into practice. This is probably true because it’s difficult to envision these large scale ideas as small individual actions we make on a daily basis. These small behaviors eventually add up and result in preventative steps toward heart disease prevention.