Whatever Happened to Common Sense?

I’d thought I’d be telling you all about Portland for this blog, but two different severe medical emergencies in the family have me thinking it’s more important to keep to medical issues today.  Boy, Bear is a tremendous support. I’d previously blogged about the importance of friends and family in the face of your illness, now I see how important they are in the face of loved one’s (or in this case: ones’) illnesses. Let them in, boys and girls.  They need to be there in support of you as much as you need to be there in support of the one enduring the medical crisis.

Both of these beloved people are in hospitals, two different hospitals in two different states. I looked at the menu of the one in an Arizona hospital and realized that, while this unrestricted diet was tasty and enticing, it was sodium laden.  That reminded me of a Canadian study about the sodium content of hospital food there that I’d read recently. It’s an eye opener and made me wonder about just plain common sense

Hospital meals need to hold the salt

Prepared, processed foods often too high in sodium

 Jul 16, 2012   4:00 PM ET

Hospital patients are getting too much sodium in their food, CBC's Melanie Nagy reports.Salty hospital meals

Hospital patients get too much salt even when they’re on a sodium-restricted diet, says a Canadian study.

On average, Canadians consume 3,400 milligrams of sodium a day, which is 1,100 milligrams over the recommended levels. At least three-quarters of that sodium comes from processed foods.

Restricting sodium is particularly important for certain hospital patients, such as those with heart failure.

Registered dietitian and postdoctoral researcher JoAnne Arcand of the University of Toronto and her colleagues and Mount Sinai Hospital analyzed 84 standard menus for regular, diabetic and sodium-restricted diets at three hospitals in Ontario between 2010 and 2011.

“We demonstrated that hospital patient menus contain excessive levels of sodium,” the study’s authors concluded in a letter published in Monday’s online issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine. [I could not ascertain if they meant Monday, 7/23/12, or the previous Monday.  Sorry, folks.]

You can find the entire article at: http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/story/2012/07/16/salt-hospital-food.html?cmp=rss

This reminded me of another article I’d read that seemed somewhat unnecessary since I’d thought it was just common sense.  Maybe it isn’t. Basically the article discussed the salt content of fast foods and how that pertains to CKD patients.

Salt Intake and Hypertension – the plot thickens….


There is good evidence to support a connection between salt intake and population-based blood pressure levels. Excess dietary salt is associated with increased blood pressure in individuals. It has also been argued that like the effects of restraining tobacco consumption there would also be a salutary effect on population outcomes if salt intake was constrained. A recent article in the June 12 issue of CMAJ by Elizabeth Dunford and colleagues is a must-read because of it’s practical importance.
Basically, Dunford and co-workers performed a survey assessing the salt content of food items sold by 6 trans-national food companies operating in the US, Australia, Canada, France, New Zealand, and the UK. They calculated mean salt content and compared these within and between countries and companies. The companies involved were: Burger King (known as Hungry Jack’s in Australia), Domino’s Pizza, Kentucky Fried Chicken, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut and Subway….

The authors conclude: “Decreasing salt in fast foods would appear to be technically feasible and is likely to produce important gains in population health — the mean salt levels of fast foods are high, and these foods are eaten often. Governments setting and enforcing salt targets for industry would provide a level playing field, and no company could gain a commercial advantage by using high levels of salt.”
The other practical point, of course, is that when we see patients with CKD  who invariably have hypertension that is difficult to control, we should educate them about salt content in fast food items and how much variability there currently is.
I simply could not accept that we were as senseless as these two articles seemed to indicate, so I mined all the articles I’d saved about sodium and thankfully came up to this one.  It’s clear and offers you some control about the sodium in your life.

According to CDC [that’s the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] Director Thomas Frieden, MD, “Too much sodium raises blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. These diseases kill more than 800,000 Americans each year and contribute an estimated $273 billion in healthcare costs.”  But nutritionists believe that salt poured at the table is rarely the  culprit in sending Americans past the threshold, because eaters can more  easily control the salt shaker at home; it’s the hidden salt found in many processed foods, or in meals eaten outside the home, that help push Americans over the limits. CDC estimates that reducing the sodium content of the 10 leading sodium sources by 25% would lower total dietary sodium by more than 10% and could play a role in preventing up to an estimated 28,000 deaths per year.

The article contained a chart and suggestions that made it simple to understand  table salt is not the culprit.  Here we are congratulating ourselves for banishing the salt shaker from our tables only to discover it’s the salt INSIDE the foods we eat that do much damage, too. You can see that chart and those  terrific suggestions at: http://www.primaryissues.org/2012/03/lick-the-salt/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=lick-the-salt

Many thanks to Tamara Jansen at AKDHC for her continued support via the flyer campaign in their offices. Don’t want to forget about being grateful in the midst of my personal woes right now.

To Cheryl, Nima and everyone else who is hospitalized at this time: keep faith – there are such wonderful, medical innovations being used these days and, please, let those of us who want to support you do it.  You have no idea how much it means to us.

Until next week,

Keep living your life!


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