I confess to loving Campbell’s tomato bisque soup. I mix it with 1 percent-fat milk and it’s hot and delicious and comforting, but one of the worst food choices I could make because one cup contains more sodium than I should have in a day. Knowing this, I have already relegated it to an occasional treat. But by the end of this blog post I will do more.
We are overdosing on sodium and it is killing us. We need to cut the sodium we eat daily by more than half. The guidelines keep coming. The U.S. government has handed out dietary guidelines telling Americans who are over 50, all African Americans, people with high blood pressure, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease to have no more than 1,500 milligrams (mg) — or two thirds of a teaspoon — of sodium daily. That’s the majority of us — 69 percent. Five years ago the government said that this group would benefit from the lower sodium and now it made this its recommendation. The other 31 percent of the country can have up to 2,300 mg a day, say the guidelines from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Or should they? The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that all Americans lower sodium to less than 1,500 mg a day. Excessive sodium, mostly found in salt, is bad for us because it causes high blood pressure which often leads to heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease and can also cause gastric problems. People with heart failure are taught to restrict salt because water follows salt into the blood and causes swelling of the ankles, legs, and abdomen and lung congestion that makes it difficult to breathe.
I saw one recommendation by an individual on the Internet to just drink a lot of water to flush the sodium out of your body rather than worry about eating foods that have less sodium. BAD idea, especially for people with heart problems who need to restrict fluids to help prevent fluid accumulation in their bodies. The salt will draw the water to it.
But cutting our salt consumption by half is quite a tall order for an individual consumer because Americans have been conditioned from childhood to love salt and we on average consume 3,436 mg — nearly one and a half teaspoons — a day. Sodium is pervasive in our food supply. We get most of our sodium from processed foods and restaurant and takeout food, sometime in unexpected places. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at HeartSense*
Smokers of the world unite! It’s strange for a physician to be sympathizing with the tobacco companies, purveyors of the opium of the people. Am I a stealth nicotine addict, an apologist for Big Tobacco who supplies me with my daily fix? This scurrilous allegation can be vaporized in a one-question quiz:
Q: Identify which two of the three individuals listed below are cigarette smokers:
- John Boehner, newly elected Speaker of the House , 3rd in line to the presidency
- Barack Obama, Commander-in-Chief and leader of the free world
- Michael Kirsch, Hemorrhoid Examiner
I’ve never smoked and I detest the habit. It kills people and separates lower income Americans from money that could likely be devoted to more worthwhile endeavors. I remember caring for folks with end-stage emphysema as a medical resident and thinking that this disease was worse than cancer. I haven’t changed my mind.
Yet I have felt for years that Big Tobacco is demonized by the press and the government as Big Scapegoat, and this blame shift has always troubled me. I am well aware that the tobacco companies are guilty of many offenses. They have lied about their corporate practices, advertising strategies and manipulation of nicotine content. These companies — like any individual or business — should be held accountable with available legal remedies. If crimes were committed, then I’m sure this nation has a few idle and altruistic attorneys who can fight them in the courts. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at MD Whistleblower*
The FDA will soon require new cigarette package labeling to deter smoking. So in politically-correct governmental fashion, they are asking which labels you’d like to see. (You can pick your favorites here.) My personal favorite (so far) is the one shown to the left, but its impact factor pales in comparison to this example found in England. (That, my friends, is cancer!)
Ironically, it appears the FDA isn’t too sure how forceful it should be in these warnings about the dangers of smoking. They offer a cornucopia of milquetoast labeling options, many of which contain cartoons. Might such unrealistic portrayals defy they hard-hitting message they want to project? Worse, at least one cartoon (seen here) even seems to promote cigarettes AND drug use together!
In an even more astonishing example, some images almost make me what to take up smoking so I can blow big bubbles. Since I could never do this well before, maybe I should take up smoking! Seriously, is an empowerment message what the government wants to portray?
Make these labels big, ugly, and real. Anything else is a waste of taxpayer’s money.
-WesMusings of a cardiologist and cardiac electrophysiologist.
*This blog post was originally published at Dr. Wes*