Salt is good for you

The research proving that salt causes high blood pressure is pretty flimsy at best. None of the 17,000 studies published on salt and blood pressure since 1966 has shown population wide health benefits from a low-salt diet. It is only in the last few decades that salt has received bad publicity. In fact, before the 20th century salt was a valuable commodity. Roman soldiers were even paid with it and it is the origin of the word salary.

Salt, or sodium chloride, is a naturally occurring chemical that is vital to health. It is important in the regulation of fluids and nerve conduction in the body. Usually when we eat more salt than is required by the body it is excreted in the urine. We sweat about 500mg of sodium in a 1 hour work-out. Long-term effects of cutting out salt from the diet is unknown, although it is known that even moderate reductions of salt can cause fatigue.

A 30 year study in America showed that those who ate the most salt had the fewest deaths from any cause, including heart disease. In a follow-up study it was found that reducing salt intake did reduce blood pressure slightly but increased bad cholesterol or LDL.

Obviously not content with the results so far the Second National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey ran for a further 13 years looking at data on over 7000 men and women and found that there was a 50% higher risk of heart disease if you had a daily intake of less than 6 g of salt a day. The current recommendation is that people consume no more than 6 g a day, which is equivalent to about 1 teaspoon of salt.

The lead researcher was Dr H. W Cohen, Assistant Professor of Epidemiology and Population Health at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York. Dr Cohen said “It is likely that there are differences between individuals with regard to sodium intake and it is clear that the data do not support the current recommendations “

In 2005 scientists across Europe completed their study involving 8000 people over 50. Their conclusions were that as long as salt intake was no more than 16 g a day it had no significant effect on blood pressure./Risk only increased with an intake over 21 g and even then it had no effect on cardiovascular problems. In fact, other scientists have gone further in saying that pregnant women with pre-eclampsia, high blood pressure, can benefit from up to 20 g of salt a day. One in 10 elderly people suffer from sodium deficiency, which can result in anxiety, hallucinations, muscle cramps and hip fractures.

The food industry perpetuates the idea that healthy food has reduced salt, encouraged by government guidelines. Only 5 to 10% of salt consumed occurs in natural foods to such as meats while more may be added during cooking or at the table. By far the greatest amount is found in processed foods with the worst ones being bred and canned vegetables.

If you are restricting your salt intake to help reduce high blood pressure, then you may wish to discuss whether this is indeed the best course of action with your GP.

Reference

Trick and Treat, How Healthy Eating Is Making Us Ill. Barry Groves. Hammersmith press Ltd 2008, p 144-156

Addendum

Following further research on this topic you might like to look at a large meta-analysis of the studies here

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/o/cochrane/clsysrev/articles/CD003656/frame.html

Over-training caused by adrenal fatigue

If you are running in the Brighton Marathon you may be interested to know that runners often over-train for a marathon rather than under-train.  One cause of over-training is adrenal fatigue. You may miss this as symptoms can be subtle and no clear disease can bediagnosed. Recurrent injury or lack of motivation can be caused by this little known problem.

Adrenal fatigue (technically called hypo-adrenia) was described as long as the 1800’s and is caused by a multitude of physical and emotional stresses often stretching back over many months or years.  A demanding job, long hours and poor sleep patterns combine with a poor diet and too much caffeine to pound the adrenal glands. These stresses can build up slowly over a long time and you can cope – just. If, for instance, you now add in a training routine for a marathon, you are fine initially as the gentle runs and aerobic exercise help the adrenal glands recover. As the mileage increases however, the adrenal glands have to work harder and harder and eventually splutter. So what are the symptoms of adrenal fatigue:-

  • back pain and other joint pains
  • muscle aches
  • tiredness
  • difficulty getting up in the morning
  • cravings for sugar, salt, caffeine or alcohol
  • poor tolerance to physical exertion
  • decreased sex drive
  • poor tolerance to stress
  • frequent infections

….and if that list wasn’t enough in itself – mild depression can be a result of hypoadrenia too.

Adrenal fatigue (technically called hypo-adrenia) was described as long as the 1800’s and is caused by a multitude of physical and emotional stresses often stretching back over many months or years.  A demanding job, long hours and poor sleep patterns combine with a poor diet and too much caffeine to pound the adrenal glands. These stresses can build up slowly over a long time and you can cope – just. If, for instance, you now add in a training routine for a marathon, you are fine initially as the gentle runs and aerobic exercise help the adrenal glands recover. As the mileage increases however, the adrenal glands have to work harder and harder and eventually splutter.

Your adrenal glands produce adrenaline, obviously, but also a whole pharmacy of other hormones which help regulate sugar metabolism; water works; steroids to aid recovery, regulate blood pressure and heart function, reduce inflammation, regulate immune function and affect mood. So anything that disturbs this chemical symphony is likely to be bad.

Fortunately a few simple steps including dietary and lifestyle changes as well specific supplements can help. We can help you choose the best solution.

How do I know if I have Adrenal Fatigue?

The list of symptoms above will give you a good idea but you can have a saliva test which measures the levels of adrenal hormones; you can have have your blood pressure checked which can give clue as can a simple muscle test. if you would like to be tested give us call at Queens Road and book an appointment. Ask for the Adrenal Check-up. Until the Brighton Marathon we are doing blood pressure and muscle checks for a £5 donation to Rockinghorse.

Call on 01273 774 114

Runners MOT – New

Most runners know that a good warm-up and warm down routine, including stretches, is likely to minimise the risk of injury whilst running. In spite of this, the injury rate in runners is still too high, especially knee injuries. Runners are increasingly us to help prevent injuries as well as treating them once they have occurred.

We are helping out with the Rockinghorse runners again this year. Antony our physio has already been giving training tips and we have all been helping runners get over niggling training injuries. If you are running, whether for Rockinghorse or not, you might like to book an appointment for our Runners MOT. Bring your running shoes along and we will check them out along with your back, hips knees and feet for running problems. Some problems will not cause pain until they build up to a critical point so don’t wait for symptoms to tell you if there is an issue.

The fee for this service is £5 which we will donate to the Rockinghorse charity.

Could flat feet cause back pain?

The answer is yes. Here’s why. If the arch in the foot flattens out (over-pronates) the shin bone and knee twist inward in a cork-screw motion putting stress on the hip and pelvic bones. This can cause the spine to tilt and the back joints to ache. In fact it has been estimated that up to 80% of people over-pronate.

How do you know if this could be causing a problem for you? Easy right? You look at your feet arches and if they are flat then it is possible. Well, no unfortunately it is not that simple. When you walk the arch raises and flattens continuously and standing posture doesn’t tell you much. There is a straight-forward test that can tell us though if you do have a problem. We ask you to stand and roll your feet in. If a previously strong arm muscle goes weak it is likely that you have over-pronation. If you would like us to test you next time you are in then let us know.

Other signs of over-pronation you might look for are un-even shoe wear, a waddle when walking or sore feet at the end of a long day. Bunions and Achilles tendon problems can also be a result.

It is not just back problems that over-pronation can cause. You will walk over 115,000 miles in your lifetime so obviously foot and ankle pain can be a result but also knee and hip arthritis have been shown to be caused, at least in part, by arch problems. Interestingly it seems that the mechanism causing such issues may be a weakening of the leg muscles in response to nerve endings being irritated in and around the foot itself.

If we find an over-pronation problem we recommend wearing a shoe insert, sometimes called a footbed or orthotic, to support the arch better. The best ones we have found are called Superfeet and they out perform every other footbed we have tried and often do better than a customised one from a podiatrist which may cost hundreds of pounds. They are really comfortable and most of us at Sundial wear them all the time.

Golfers found that wearing footbeds improved balance and fatigue and even improved how far they could hit a golf ball. Runners found that long-standing injuries improved and military personnel found that they had fewer injuries in the first place when wearing orthotics. If you think you might be a candidate for Superfeet then mention it next time you are in.