Nature’s BalanceREAD MORE
While the broader issue authorities seek to address today is the balance of calories for weight management, the proper intake of nutrients is intrinsic to MyPlate and every other well apportioned plan. Mountains of research prove that achieving balance not only helps us to maintain a healthy weight, but promotes good health in general and decreases the risk of chronic diseases. Vitamins and minerals are hard at work in all of these causes — and their job is made harder, if not impossible, by upsetting the dietary applecart.
Culprits of excess
“Not only are nutrients important, but they are best consumed in the company of other nutrients,” says Dr. David Katz, Director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University’s School of Medicine. “Natural foods package nutrients up together in proportions that are appropriate and wholesome for the human body.”
Despite great advances in nutritional science, experts are still not clear on why, precisely, an ideal balance of nutrients is so difficult to recreate synthetically. Even with a good handle on recommended intakes of each essential vitamin and mineral, they don’t completely understand why nutrients consumed in isolation, as via supplements, do not have the same salubrious effect on the body as foods do. Moreover, it is the unchecked consumption of supplements — or even heavily fortified foods — that is responsible for the vast majority of cases in which patients suffer from nutrient excess. The wise course is to consult a health care provider before taking multivitamin and mineral pills. Absent some chronic condition or dysfunction, the chance that a person on a balanced diet will exceed vitamin or mineral intake is very small.
How Excess Sodium Causes Hypertension
Sodium, or sodium chloride, is needed to maintain fluid levels throughout the body. It’s the job of the kidneys to regulate sodium levels, but when the kidneys can’t eliminate all the sodium we consume, it starts to accumulate in the blood.
Sodium in the blood attracts and holds water (think about how thirsty you get after a salty meal), leading to an increase in overall blood volume. The blood, now bloated with water, still has to be circulated, making for an increased demand on the heart. Pressure increases on the arteries, which carry blood away from the heart, to send the blood through the body’s vessels.
Culprits of deficiency
On the global scale, vitamin and minerals deficiencies are associated with malnutrition. But don’t be quick to write off malnutrition as exclusive to developing countries. According to the non-profit Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), more than 49.1 million Americans live in “food-insecure” households, and the number is on the rise. While the United States can often afford to provide a nutritional safety net, the wealth of a nation is no guarantee against the conditions associated with malnutrition. LESS
Nutrients for Equilibrium and RecoveryREAD MORE
When levels of the mineral sodium get too high, the brain is the first to react by creating thirst. The brain also sends a hormone to the kidneys with an instruction to excrete less water, thereby diluting the high levels of sodium.
The kidneys play a key role in maintaining healthy proportions of sodium, water, and potassium in the blood. Potassium is effective in keeping blood pressure in check, and helps attenuate the effects of excess sodium. Scientists aren’t sure exactly how the protective effect is accomplished, but one possible explanation is that potassium may increase the amount of sodium excreted.
Shaking Up Salt Perceptions
Though the recommendation from health authorities to reduce sodium intake has not wavered, a recent study suggests you may not need to shelve that shaker just yet. In a May 2011 report involving 3,681 participants over a median 8 years’ time, researchers from Belgium’s University of Leuven showed that those with the lowest sodium intake were actually more likely to die of cardiovascular disease. Study leader Jan A. Staessen, MD, PhD, said that people with pre-existing hypertension may need to restrict sodium, but for others reducing sodium has known negative influences on cardiovascular outcomes. LESS