Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Tips for using this versatile piece of exercise equipment

Sodium is an essential part of our diet. It helps nerves and muscles function as well as hold onto water. Sodium in the blood is what keeps it viscous, but too much sodium means your body could retain too much liquid. This surge in volume increases blood pressure, which is the root of many serious ailments including heart and kidney disease. Experts estimate that we could save 280,000 lives in the United States if we lowered the average daily sodium intake by 40% for the next 10 years. And that’s just because lowering blood pressure protects the heart.

The average American consumes 3,409 milligrams of sodium each day, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s way above the amount we should be getting per day: 1,500 mg. It means we’re ingesting 1.5 teaspoons of salt each day, when we really need only a third of that. And most of that sodium comes from prepared and processed foods — 75%, actually. Salt helps to preserve and add flavor to food, which is great when you want that strawberry Pop-Tart to taste the same whether you eat it the day after you buy it or a month after. But the CDC recently published a list of the 10 most sodium-dense foods in our diets. You know what’s at the top? Yeast bread, pizza, and sandwiches. The good stuff, the convenient stuff, the stuff like Pop-Tarts.
Dialing back the sodium

Cutting back on sodium in our prepared foods has been made easier by the increase in packaged food companies’ creating reduced-sodium versions of them, like low-sodium chicken broth. While that sounds simple, sodium lurks in some unexpected places. Kathy McManus, director of the Department of Nutrition at Brigham Health/Brigham and Women’s Hospital, says there are some ways to cut back on sneaky salt.

McManus says a good way to reduce the amount of sodium you eat is to focus on natural and whole foods. Preparing your own food, while sometimes inconvenient, can cut down on a lot of the sodium you consume. For instance, a frozen dinner of Marie Callender’s Vermont White Cheddar Mac and Cheese contains more sodium in one meal than you’re supposed to have in an entire day. But it’s not that hard to prepare a decadent mac and cheese yourself with Barilla pasta, your own white cheddar cheese, and a little cream. The sodium count comes out to around 715 mg. That is much more manageable when watching your sodium intake. It’s less convenient, but it works.

Buying low-sodium products and then adding salt to them is still better than buying the regular version. Cooking techniques can also help compensate for flavor lost when cutting back on salt. McManus suggests playing around with grilling or stir-frying with healthy oils to change the flavor. You can also add fresh or dried herbs to enhance taste. Over time, your taste buds will adjust. Your palate will change. You’ll be less accustomed to salt and less desensitized to it, so a little bit will travel farther in terms of flavor.

Restaurants remain at the top of the list for sodium-dense meals. Looking at the menu online ahead of time can help you prepare and research your options, but so can keying in on words that indicate healthier options. Look for baked, grilled, or steamed as a description for lean meats like fish or poultry. Keep an eye out for sides that are prepared simply, like vegetables. Avoid soups or pastas with sauces. Put salad dressing on the side, and definitely avoid the bread basket.
Top 10 high sodium foods

Nutrition is not a one-size-fits-all kind of science, but it does get us thinking about what we eat and how it affects us. You could never cut sodium completely out of your diet, nor would you want to, but you can be more aware of the sodium in the foods you eat. To see the complete list of high-sodium foods, check out the table below. Seasonal allergies can be frustrating. When spring crawls in, many people begin to experience all-too-familiar itchy and watery eyes, runny nose, and congestion. Symptoms of seasonal allergies are the result of an immune system in overdrive in response to pollen and other allergens. Those bothersome symptoms are intended to protect you from unwanted foreign particles, but in this situation they end up causing misery. There are quite a few options when it comes to controlling allergy symptoms, but we want to watch out for a few that can be quite dangerous when used incorrectly.
Nasal steroids

The first-line treatment for seasonal allergies is an intranasal corticosteroid such as fluticasone propionate (Flonase). These sprays are available without a prescription and you can use them as-needed. Nasal steroid sprays have been shown to help with both nasal symptoms of runny nose and congestion, as well as eye symptoms. When using these sprays, it is important to direct the spray away from the nasal septum, as there have been some cases of nosebleeds from using these sprays. If this happens, stop using the medication and let your doctor know.

To date, most studies looking at the effect of intermittent use of nasal steroids on growth in children have been inconclusive. However, a large study reported a slight reduction in the rate of growth when nasal steroids were used daily over 52 weeks by children before puberty. Therefore, it’s a good idea to discuss steroid nasal sprays with your doctor if you find your child needs it on a more regular basis.
Oral antihistamines

Antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl), loratidine (Claritin), cetirizine (Zyrtec), and fexofenadine (Allegra) can also be quite helpful. The key is to take the medicine before symptoms develop, such as early in the morning. Another important thing to remember is that some of these medications can cause drowsiness and should be used cautiously during the day, especially if you are driving.
Decongestants

Nasal decongestant sprays such as phenylephrine and oxymetazoline (Afrin) should be used cautiously. Although they may work well in the short term when used occasionally, if used regularly for more than a few days (approximately five days), you may find your nose more congested than usual. This is called rebound congestion or rhinitis medicamentosa. I usually recommend patients not use these products for more than three days. Using these sprays too often causes a biochemical change in certain receptors on your cells, resulting in a vicious cycle of dependence — the more you use it, the worse your symptoms, and the more you need to use it. If this happens, stop using the medication, and talk to your doctor about switching to another type of nasal spray (intranasal glucocorticoid spray) which has been shown to help with this condition.

Oral decongestants such as pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine may help reduce symptoms as well. You should also use these medications cautiously. They mainly work by constricting blood vessels, and may cause side effects such as increased blood pressure, palpitations, headaches, nervousness, and irritability. These medications should not be used by patients with a history of uncontrolled high blood pressure, heart rhythm problems, strokes, glaucoma, or other conditions.
Alternative therapies

Other therapies that have been shown to be beneficial include nasal saline irrigation. Irrigating the nasal passages with prepared solutions, such as with neti pots, has been shown to improve symptoms of runny nose, congestion, and itchy throat, and to improve quality of sleep in children with acute sinusitis and allergic rhinitis. When using these products, however, make sure you are using distilled, sterilized, purified, or previously boiled water, as there have been rare cases of fatal infections by amoeba when using tap water that was contaminated. Although the evidence for menthol rubs such as Vicks is limited, some patients find that rubbing a little menthol ointment under the nose can sometimes also offer congestion relief.\

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