1. Pass the salt!

    Pass the salt!

    Where would I be without the efforts of the loony so-called "health organizations" in this country? One thing's for sure: I'd have a lot less to write about. This time, it's an organization known as the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) who went before the FDA to try and get the U.S. government to put strict limits on an essential nutrient that's critical to your good heath: salt.

    What's next? Limiting the amount of oxygen we breathe?

    Salt has long been a favorite whipping boy of the nation's health industry, and to their credit they've done an excellent job of foisting their anti-salt, anti-sodium agenda on the public. In fact, the lie that salt is bad for you has achieved "common knowledge" status among the misled public. Go ahead and ask anyone you know, "Is salt good for your health?" and I'll bet that 10 out of 10 of the people you ask will tell you with complete and utter certainty that the answer is, undoubtedly, "no."

    You'd never know it from reading the mainstream press, but salt's role in the many ailments for which it's commonly blamed is highly controversial within the medical community. In spite of what you hear on TV and read in magazines, there's actually NO AGREEMENT in the medical community that salt is the key factor in the development of such dangerous maladies as high blood pressure and hypertension!

    Regardless of this fact, the whack-jobs at organizations like the CSPI can boldly park themselves in the lobby of the FDA and make the outrageous demand that the government change salt's status as a food additive from "generally accepted as safe." The CSPI would prefer that salt be a controlled substance, as though it were a drug.

    Sadly, CSPI isn't alone in its wackiness. They were joined by my misguided colleagues in the American Medical Association (AMA), whose anti-salt ranting reached a fever pitch. During this public meeting, the AMA's vice president for science, quality, and public health said, "The deaths attributed to excess salt consumption represent a huge toll - the equivalent of a jumbo jet with 400 passengers crashing every day of the year, year after year."

    Allow me to pause for a moment and wipe off the hyperbole.

    A slightly less manic statistic put forward at the meeting by the AMA was the absurd claim that 150,000 U.S. deaths could be prevented every year by the simple expedient of halving the amount of salt contained in American food products.

    But there are some other pertinent statistics about salt that the CSPI and the AMA failed to put forward at the meeting, like how many lives are SAVED by salt every year.

    Yes, SAVED by salt. Are you ready for me to skewer another popular sacred cow?

    Lost in all the clamor from "public health" know-nothings is the cold, hard fact that without salt, you'd die. That's right: Salt keeps you alive. It's an essential nutrient THAT THE HUMAN BODY CANNOT MANUFACTURE ON ITS OWN. Salt plays a critical role in regulating vital bodily function, and is a key element in the fluids that transport life-giving oxygen throughout the body. Salt maintains the body's fluid balance.

    Here's another salt truism you'll never hear from the experts at CSPI: The body AUTOMATICALLY disposes of excess salt in your system. So you can ignore the popular claim that your diet can put "too much salt" in your body. That's just not physically possible.

    The alleged benefits of a low-sodium diet is another lie. Remember how I told you earlier that salt is routinely blamed for high blood pressure? Well, some studies have shown that A LOW-SODIUM DIET CAN ACTUALLY CAUSE HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE. The reason for this goes back to the body's need for salt. If you zealously avoid salt and sodium, your kidneys will go into overdrive to conserve the precious salt in your system. This triggers the body's back-up system to try to compensate for the absence of salt, which spikes blood pressure. Sodium deficiencies have also been linked to memory loss and even Alzheimer's disease.

    I could go on. But you know where I'm going. Don't let the anti-salt panic mongers goad you into throwing out your saltshaker. Sit back, relax, and know that a couple of shakes on your bucket of popcorn will not only make it a lot tastier it will also help keep you alive longer.

  2. Low Blood Pressure Can Have have a Big Impact on Your HealthArms

    Low Blood Pressure Can Have havea Big Impact on Your Health

    Hypertension Contention

    Blood Pressure: Low equals "slow"

    Aside from the fact that there's no evidence that high blood pressure causes heart disease (it's often a response to the condition, but not its cause), and the fact that salt intake is only remotely correlated to hypertension, there's one more widespread myth about blood pressure that most people - and their doctors - don't seem to know about:

    Your blood pressure can be TOO LOW (115/75 is borderline, if you ask me).

    Research from Israel shows just how big of an impact low blood pressure can have on health - especially upon those who are getting up in years. According to a recent Reuters online article, a Ben Gurion University study showed that patients over 70 with what modern standards call "mild hypertension" actually thought more clearly and creatively than those with lower blood pressure.

    Both men and women in the nearly 500-subject study whose blood pressure was deemed high enough to warrant treatment with prescription drugs - and also those with clinically uncontrolled (untreated) hypertension - performed significantly better on tests of cognitive function, memory, concentration, and visual retention. Only in tests of verbal fluency was there no meaningful scoring advantage for the high-BP group.

    Those with "normal" blood pressure tested the worst of all three groups in the study.

    Similar studies in younger test populations yielded no difference in performance based on blood pressure. What's this mean? It means that physicians need to balance their efforts to control what they perceive as risk factors for heart disease (namely, BP over 115/75) with patients' quality-of-life concerns - like mental sharpness and creativity.

    In other words, they should stop meddling with the body and mind and let it find its own equilibrium. But the over-medication of senior citizens isn't just limited to the treatment of hypertension.


    Keep reading

    Drug-induced emergencies twice as common as left-handedness

    I've long lamented the needless over-prescription of all kinds of drugs to American senior citizens - and with the pharmaceuticals industry's merciless marketing of their poisons to aging baby boomers, there's no end to the trend in sight.

    But is drug-company targeting of conditions likely to be suffered by seniors actually causing more illness than it helps to cure? I think so. But a recent study shows just how prevalent drug-induced medical problems really are. According to the research, fully 20% of all emergency department visits are senior citizens suffering drug-related side effects or interactions.

    That means you're twice as likely to end up in the ED because of your medications as you are to be left-handed!

    Why is this happening? Often, it's because physicians don't know enough about how the ever-growing array of drugs interact with one another, so they prescribe them in error. This is especially prevalent in cases where patients have more than one doctor (a very common occurrence nowadays).

    Also, the complexity of adhering to medication schedules can contribute to confusion over dosages or accidental overdoses - especially in the case of elderly patients with multiple medications (also quite frequent in this day and age). One study identified 2.2 million cases of seniors taking more than the recommended dosages of their medications.

    The solution to this over-medication of the elderly is three-fold: First, fewer doctors treating each patient (and better communication between them if there must be more than one). Second, better education of doctors about drug interactions and side effects. And third


    What are the odds of all these things happening? A lot slimmer than the 1 in 5 chance the average senior has of ending up in the ED because of problems with their drugs.

    Never "slow" about letting you know,

    William Campbell Douglass II, MD

  3. 'Tis the seasoning, Part I

    The Tibetans are known for living long, healthy lives. But their longevity flies in the face of modern lifestyle and dietary guidelines that recommend we eat like rabbits, munching on leaves and grass to keep us alive and well into our golden years.

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