Monthly Archives: August 2017

What is “The Salt Fix”?

MHollander

Salt is back in the news thanks to a new book that was just released. The Salt Fix  by researcher James DiNicolantonio It came to my attention on Dr. Low Dog’s Facebook post.

Dr. Tieraona Low Dog: “We’ve been looking at the evidence for and against saturated fat and carbs in the diet for years. Now there is a book looking at the role salt plays in our health. For years, physicians, myself included told people to limit their salt intake to 1 teaspoon per day (2300 mg of sodium) and for those at high risk for heart disease or hypertension (e.g., people over age 50, African Americans, those with kidney disease) to cut back to no more than 1/2 teaspoon per day (1500 mg of sodium). However, in 2013, after reviewing the evidence, the Institute of Medicine found that those who went on very low salt diets actually faired worse than those with higher intake. Now comes along, The Salt Fix, written by researcher James DiNicolantonio, which questions many of our current assumptions around this precious mineral. I still think it wise to avoid heavily processed foods that are loaded in salt and devoid of much nutrition. I prefer spices and culinary herbs for flavoring foods as they are powerhouses when it comes to taste and health giving compounds. And while it is probably okay to “loosen the reins” a little when it comes to salt, moderation seems to always be the sagest advice.” WNY researcher shakes up nutrition world with new book on salt  By


Sodium is a chemical element that is essential for the human body. Salt is a mineral that is made up of two elements: Sodium & Chlorine. For you chemistry buffs, NaCl or sodium chloride. 40% of table salt is sodium. Salt is harvested from the evaporation of sea water or mining it from the earth.

From Sources of Sodium 

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt = 575 mg sodium
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt = 1,150 mg sodium
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt = 1,725 mg sodium
  • 1 teaspoon salt = 2,300 mg sodium

Salt has been used to cure/preserve meats, enhance flavors, add moisture to foods, it has played a role in religion & has been used as currency. I found a fascinating history of salt at SaltworksThis is a very interesting site with information about gourmet salts, salt recipes & more. I enjoyed perusing the pages.

Sodium has many roles in the body. It helps to regulate the body’s overall fluid balance, thus regulating our blood pressure. It also regulates the normal function of nerves & muscles. It is found in the blood & around cells. We get our sodium through food & drink, and lose it through sweat & urine. Our kidneys regulate the balance by adjusting the amount lost in urine. The amount of sodium in the body effects the blood volume or amount of fluid in the blood & around the cells. It is quite the balancing act! The ratio of sodium to potassium affects our blood pressure & kidney function. 


The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that Americans consume less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium per day as part of a healthy eating pattern. The average American consumes 3,400 milligrams of sodium a day. Most of that is from processed foods.

Hyponatrimia, is when our sodium is too low. This is a rare problem. Usually it is due to dehydration after extreme exercise.  

Hypernatrimia is when our sodium levels are too high. This new book, & the author’s research, is challenging these levels. 

Where do we get our sodium/salt? All whole foods have some amount of sodium in them. Eating a plant based diet, the Mediterranean or DASH diet gives you enough sodium for your RDA, Recommended Daily Allowance.

As Dr. Low Dog said, heavily processed foods are loaded with salt. So are canned goods & processed meats. Even frozen vegetables have salt in them. I give my dog green beans as a snack when she is hungry. Salt isn’t good for dogs, so I have to find canned green beans without it. Sounds easy but it isn’t. Even store brands have some salt in them. Read your labels. The RDA on the label is in milligrams or grams & % of your daily values based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

Texas A&M, Agri Life Extension has an online brochure listing the Sodium Content of Your Food.  It is the most extensive list that I have seen.


From details on the website about the book,  The Salt Fix 

About the author: James J. DiNicolantonio, Pharm. D., is a respected cardiovascular research scientist, doctor of pharmacy at Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas City, Missouri, and the associate editor of British Medical Journal’s (BMJ) Open Heart. He is the author or coauthor of approximately 200 publications in medical literature. His research has been featured in The New York Times, ABC’s Good Morning America, TIME, Fox News, U.S. News and World Report, Yahoo! Health, BBC News, Daily Mail, Forbes, National Public Radio, and Men’s Health, among others. This is obviously no fly by night person who decided to write a book about salt.

About the book: A leading cardiovascular research scientist upends the low-salt myth, proving that salt may be one solution to—rather than a cause of—our nation’s chronic disease crises.

Sure to change the national conversation about this historically treasured substance, The Salt Fix elegantly and accessibly weaves the research into a fascinating new understanding of salt’s essential role in your health and what happens when you aren’t getting enough—with far-reaching, even heart-stopping, implications. 

The book is available on Amazon : The Salt Fix: Why the Experts Got It All Wrong–and How Eating More Might Save Your Life   Why is this book so controversial? Here is what Amazon says about it: 

Dr. James DiNicolantonio, a leading cardiovascular research scientist, has reviewed over 500 publications to unravel the impact of salt on blood pressure and heart disease. He’s reached a startling conclusion: The vast majority of us don’t need to watch our salt intake. In fact, for most of us, more salt would be advantageous to your health. The Salt Fix tells the remarkable story of how salt became unfairly demonized—a never-before-told drama of competing egos and interests—and took the fall for another white crystal: sugar. 
 
In fact, too little salt can:
• Cause you to crave sugar and refined carbs.
• Send the body into semi-starvation mode.
• Lead to weight gain, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney disease, and increased blood pressure and heart rate.
 
On the other hand, eating the salt your body desires can:
• Improve everything from your sleep, energy, and mental focus to your fitness, fertility, and sexual performance
• And stave off common chronic illnesses, including heart disease.
 
Dr. DiNicolantonio shows the best ways to add salt back into your diet, offering his transformative five-step program for recalibrating your salt thermostat to achieve your unique, ideal salt intake. Science has moved on from the low-salt dogma, and so should you—your life may depend on it.

I have not read the book yet. I have read & watched several interviews with the author. Here are my favorites that explain his research & his book.

The Salt Fix with Dr James DiNicolantonio You tube video that covers the information in his book. Excellent. I do object to his claim that women need to eat more red meat 🙁

The Be Well Blog has a good interview with Dr. DiNicolantonio. 7 QUESTIONS FOR DR JAMES DINICOLANTONIO, ABOUT HIS NEW BOOK, THE SALT FIX  by Dr. Frank Lipman 

His bottom line is to eat a whole foods diet & listen to your body’s craving for salt. His research & conclusions are scientifically based & correct. I am sure that this book is going to generate more research on the subject of salt in our diet & of sodium’s effect on the body. 


A mother always cut the ends off of her pot roast before putting it into the roasting pan. When questioned by her daughter, she said that her mother always did that. On further research into family lore, it was discovered that the reason the grandmother cut the ends off the roast was so it would fit into her only roasting pan. Why do we continue to do things the way that we were told or taught without any question? What is the story/legend/myth behind it?  This is what research is all about.

Until next week…Mary 🙂

Iron Deficiency Anemia & Iron-Rich Foods

Iron deficiency anemia, IDA, is a common symptom among cancer patients. It can be the result of the inflammatory process of cancer or by its treatment. Many patients come into the oncologists office with a history of anemia. From my research I see that iron deficiency is a common problem world wide. Treating IDA varies by cause. Depending on the diagnosis, it can be helped or corrected with nutrition. In this post I am going to discuss dietary sources of iron exclusively. Eating a diet rich in iron can be done alongside any treatments your healthcare team has decided upon.


The National Institute of Health states on their Iron Supplement Fact Sheetstate that “People in the United States usually obtain adequate amounts of iron from their diets” & “Isolated iron deficiency is uncommon in the United States. Because iron deficiency is associated with poor diet, malabsorptive disorders, and blood loss, people with iron deficiency usually have other nutrient deficiencies.”  Hmm…

The Iron Disorders Institute states: “Iron deficiency is a condition resulting from too little iron in the body. Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency and the leading cause of anemia in the world. In the USA, despite food fortification, iron deficiency is on the rise in certain populations.” Diet plays a huge part in this. Poor diets are not just an economical problem. The SAD, standard american diet, is woefully lacking nutrients the body needs to stay healthy.


This is an informative resource about Iron Deficiency Anemia. This was written in January 2017 & it states that IDA is a common nutritional deficiency in the USA. I wanted to share this paragraph regarding the symptoms of anemia. 

Academy of Nutrition& Dietetics, EatRight: Foods to Fight Iron Deficiency By Caroline Kaufman, MS, RDN, Published January 06, 2017

“If the body doesn’t absorb its needed amount of iron, it becomes iron deficient. Symptoms appear only when iron deficiency has progressed to iron deficiency anemia, a condition in which the body’s iron stores are so low that not enough normal red blood cells can be made to carry oxygen efficiently. Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency and the leading cause of anemia in the United States. 

Symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Pale skin and fingernails
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Glossitis (inflamed tongue)

Iron is an import mineral the body needs. As explained in the Patient & Caregiver Handout from the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center: Iron in Your Diet  “Iron is an essential mineral that your body needs to create red blood cells, which store and carry oxygen throughout your body. Iron is also part of many proteins and enzymes that help you stay healthy.

Iron Deficiency Anemia   “If  your body isn’t getting enough iron, you can develop iron deficiency anemia. This can happen if you:

  • Don’t have enough iron in your diet
  • Have had chemotherapy
  • Have had radiation therapy
  • Have a chronic illness
  • Have lost some of your blood, such as during surgery or an accident

How much iron you need to stay healthy is decided by age & gender. The handout has a graph for you to use set up by both age & gender. “Common side effects of taking higher amounts of iron include stomach irritation and constipation.”

The article brings up two important points: do not take iron supplements without speaking with your healthcare team & don’t forget to read the labels on all foods & supplements. Many are fortified with iron & you can easily go over the recommended daily amount. 

I would recommend that you look at & print out this handout if you or someone you knows is anemic or has been diagnosed with Iron Deficiency Anemia.


Sources of iron in your food are divided into two types. There is some controversy surrounding whether or not vegan’s & vegetarians can get enough iron in their diets, in particular the vegan.

  • Heme: from an animal source which includes dairy, fish & poultry.
  • Non-heme: from plant-based foods

The above mentioned handout has a list of both animal & plant-based foods rich in iron. Here is a list for meat-eaters from WebMD: Iron-Rich Foods “Some foods can help your body absorb iron from iron-rich foods; others can hinder it. To absorb the most iron from the foods you eat, avoid drinking coffee or tea or consuming calcium-rich foods or drinks with meals containing iron-rich foods. To improve your absorption of iron, eat it along with a good source of vitamin C — such as orange juice, broccoli, or strawberries — or eat nonheme iron foods with a food from the meat, fish, and poultry group. I have a problem with all the lists I found for people who eat meat. They all start with beef, making you think that is the only way to get a good source of iron. Keep reading & take a look at the veggies list. 

Very good sources of heme iron, with 3.5 milligrams or more per serving, include:

  • 3 ounces of beef or chicken liver
  • 3 ounces of clams, mollusks, or mussels
  • 3 ounces of oysters

Good sources of heme iron, with 2.1 milligrams or more per serving, include:

  • 3 ounces of cooked beef
  • 3 ounces of canned sardines, canned in oil

Other sources of heme iron, with 0.7 milligrams or more per serving, include:

  • 3 ounces of chicken
  • 3 ounces of cooked turkey
  • 3 ounces of halibut, haddock, perch, salmon, or tuna
  • 3 ounces of ham
  • 3 ounces of veal

Other sources of heme iron, with 0.3 milligrams or more per serving, include:

  • 3 ounces of halibut, haddock, perch, salmon, or tuna

Rodales Organic Life… 14 Vegetarian Foods That Have More Iron Than Meat: Your best meat-free options to boost your iron levels. November 18, 2016

Check out their comprehensive list with the amounts of iron per serving.

  1. Spinach
  2. Broccoli
  3. Lentils
  4. Kale
  5. Bok Choy
  6. Baked Potato
  7. Sesame Seeds
  8. Cashews
  9. Soybeans
  10. Chickpeas
  11. DARK CHOCOLATE 🙂
  12. Swiss Chard
  13. Tofu
  14. Kidney Beans

This list adds a few more. One Green Planet: 10 Plant-based Foods Packed with Iron Take a look at the article for the amount of iron in each.

  1. DARK CHOCOLATE & COCOA POWDER 🙂
  2. Dried Fruit
  3. Blackstrap Molasses
  4. Dark Leafy Greens
  5. Spirulina
  6. Tofu
  7. Whole Grains
  8. Legumes
  9. Nuts
  10. Seeds

I have had a problem with Anemia my entire life. It isn’t bad, just low. I have never been able to give blood because of it. My doctors have always blamed my being a vegetarian as the problem. But here is the kicker 🙂 When I am following a strict vegan diet my numbers improve & I am no longer anemic. I don’t know why & my doctors just shake their collective heads. I think it is because I increase the veggies, fruits & whole grains in my diet & stop all dairy including eggs. This would decrease the chronic inflammatory process & would make sense.

I am not suggesting that you become a vegan if you are anemic. I am making a case for increasing the iron rich veggies, fruits & whole grains in your diet & not relying on just meat, poultry & fish for iron.

For those of us who are vegan, on the Forks over Knives website, What Is a Whole-Food, Plant-Based Diet?  BY , the erroneous idea of eating for just one nutrient is explained.

The idea of eating a particular food for one nutrient is pervasive in our culture. We have been led to believe we should eat meat for protein, dairy for calcium, fish for omega-3 fatty acids, and even tomatoes for lycopene, among many others. This sort of thinking is misguided and has caused grave harm to human health. The quest for protein, for example, has steered us toward meat consumption. In this quest, we not only consume protein in excess of our needs, but also many harmful substances like dietary cholesterol that are only present in animal foods.

No food is a single nutrient, and we should never think of foods in that way. Any given food has countless nutrients. What matters most is the overall nutrient profile, i.e., the whole package. Whole, plant-based foods contain all the essential nutrients (with the exception of vitamin B12), and in proportions that are more consistent with human needs than animal-based or processed foods. So our question is really this: Why waste any of what we eat on inferior packages? As long as—over time—we choose a variety of whole, plant-based foods, we will easily meet our nutritional needs.

Even on this diet, people sometimes tend to worry about eating a certain type of green vegetable for calcium, beans for protein, nuts for fat, and so on. We ask you to let go of that kind of thinking. The most important thing in this lifestyle is to choose the whole, plant-based food you enjoy most!” I have discussed how a whole food has thousands & maybe more pathways of information. The nutrients in each food works synergistically within the food & with other foods as well. Isolating one nutrient does not make sense.

Another good website to look at for vegans is Dr. Neal Bernard’s: 21 day Vegan Kickstart  & his Food For Life program.


Before I sign off, I want to share part of an email I received from our NUT, Terrie M, about last weeks post: Organic Imposters  I followed up on what she says & she is correct. This is a good example of store brands being legit. “I have checked out the Organic veggies when I find them at the 99 cent store. They are the same packages I see at Sprouts and Frazier Farms. The local company is identified on the package and invites a “check us out.” I did,  it is not day old, it is over picked and packaged surplus. Helps me greatly. I buy what they have, Spinach or other “greens…”  Thank you Terrie!

Until next week…Mary 🙂


Additional Resources

 

Organic Imposters

MHollander

I was complaining to my husband last week about the prices we pay for organic products at our natural foods market. I was comparing them to what I could buy at Safeway; purchasing their store brand organic products. I was also comparing the prices for produce at our local farmers market. After researching for this post, freshness & quality at the farmers market & our local natural food store won over the cheaper prices at Safeway.

What I have wondered about for years: are there really enough small organic farms to supply big box stores like Walmart, Safeway, Target and others? I decided to do some investigating.

What I found was troubling at the very least. Big farms & dairy’s are the ones supplying the bigger stores. These large enterprises are certified organic, by some iffy certifiers, and are cutting corners. According to the following articles, cutting corners means not living up to the organic standards set by the FDA. For example some dairy’s are not allowing the cows outside as outlined in the standards but are factory farming. UGH 🙁


What are the standards? USDA Organic Production/Organic Food: Information Access Tools Everything you ever wanted to know about Organic food & organic certification. 


This is a very good article explaining the problem of organic impostors from my ECOWatch Newsletter: Here’s How to Boycott Organic Imposters By Katherine Paul and Ronnie Cummins, Organic Consumers Association,  A recent series of articles by a Washington Post reporter could have some consumers questioning the value of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) organic seal. But are a few bad eggs representative of an entire industry?

Consumers are all for cracking down on the fraudulent few who, with the help of Big Food, big retail chains and questionable certifiers give organics a bad name. But they also want stronger standards, and better enforcement—not a plan to weaken standards to accommodate “Factory Farm Organic.”

The article points out that their are about 25,000 honest organic producers & that they are being hurt by the dishonesty of the few. The authors list the ones that we, as consumers, need to watch out for. They also give you the following tools.

  • USDA Organic Integrity Database Organic Certifier locator.
  • The Cornucopia Institute Maintaining the Integrity of Organic Milk Provides links to information about organic dairies & their certifications.
  • Where is My Milk From? How it works: From the cow to your mouth. In five easy steps. Udder to pail. Pail to dairy. Dairy to grocery store. Grocery store to fridge. Fridge to mouth. We’ll let you take it from there. So where is your milk from? Locate the code on your carton or container, enter it above (go to website) and click Find It. You’ll instantly know which dairy your milk came from! The same goes for your yogurt, chocolate milk, soy or organic milk, coffee creamer, cottage cheese, ice cream, and more!
  • The Cornucopia Institute Choosing the best eggs As with the link to the dairy information, this link is all about organic eggs & how to choose them.

Very informative article. It confirmed my suspicions regarding big box stores & their private labels. Private labels are a good way of hiding the suppliers name. Not all private labels are fraudulent. Ask or use the above tools to track down the supplier of your favorite brand.

Organic Consumers Association   If you are truly interested in the latest in organic news, then I suggest that you subscribe to their newsletter. I do 🙂


Who owns who? This is an interesting site not only to see the Organic Industry structure now, but also the structure in 2007 to compare it to! Wow!  See other relevant info-graphics too at: Philip H. Howard Michigan State University  Click on the info-graph below to make it larger & then click again to zoom in.

What are the practical measures we can take to avoid these impostors? We can investigate every label & every certifier & boycott big box stores organic labels. That is not a practical choice for most of us. We are on a budget, and must be careful with each dollar spent on groceries.

Our first question to ourselves is why we are even buying organic. In my case it is a no brainer; for health. I see it as our health insurance. What is your answer? It will influence your buying decisions. 

Here are my steps to balance my budget & still be able to buy organic.

  • Buy local organic produce. Skip the oranges from Chili & the other out of season produce that you know had to come from another country or state. You can buy them locally when the season arrives.
  • Buy local organic products. Our natural foods store has a sign when a product such as honey, peanut butter, locally roasted coffee, olives & more are from a local farm, person, or company. Local means transported within one day from farm/factory to your store.
  • Use EWG’s Dirty Dozen & Clean 15 lists. I have the EWG App on my phone so I have it with me all the time.
  • I already use very few canned goods & rarely anything processed. It is amazing how easy it is to do without those items. I buy my beans & rice from bulk bins. Our store has their origin on the label of the bin.
  • I support my local farmers market during the season & our local organic farmer at his stand during the winter months.
  • I am going to stay out of Safeway & Fred Meyers (a Kroeger market). No Target or Costco up here & I have boycotted Walmart for hundreds of years 🙂  

What are you going to do? Don’t go with the fads or the headlines, or ME! 🙂 This is a personal choice. You need to decide what is right for you & your family.


This is a wonderful resource for your local farmers markets in San Diego County. Farm Bureau San Diego: San Diego County Certified Farmers’ Markets  Buy Local San Diego Produce by visiting one of the Certified Farmers’ Markets (CFM) in San Diego County allows you to experience agriculture. Farmers’ Markets provide venues for farmers to sell directly to consumers and supports small farming operations.

If you don’t live in San Diego County, then Google farmers markets in your county. 


I will continue to buy organic, support our local farmers & grow as much as we can. My budget will have to accommodate that choice. As I said earlier, this is our health insurance.

Until next week…Mary 🙂