Monday, January 11, 2010

my sodium soapbox

If you have or know someone with high blood pressure, please pay close attention. Chris' stroke was said to be because of high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Before his stroke, he was told to lose weight to help his blood pressure. It didn't work. After his stroke, he was told to eat less than 1500 mg of sodium a day and lose weight. (But only in passing....their main solution was for him to pop a pill to solve all of his woes.) While Chris was in therapy, I was reading up on how to cook for this man with health problems common to a 60 year old. It kept coming back to sodium and saturated fat. At his first appt. after getting out of the hospital with a heart specialist, we asked the doctor if he thought his blood pressure could immediately be affected by food. He said that it could be, but continued to suggest us doubling Chris' meds to bring his bp from 140 to 130. Chris took on the challenge to lower his blood pressure through diet and refused the additional meds, but dedicating himself to eating low/no sodium.

•He eats around 100 mg of sodium a day
•His blood pressure hovers around 120/80
•He is completely off of bp meds
•Yes, he has lost weight. Still, if he eats too much sodium (more than 100 mg), his bp sky rockets.
•when you are on bp meds, they tell you to avoid eating too many potatoes or bananas since they naturally lower your blood pressure...and we'd hate to do THAT, now wouldn't we?

Why don't doctors focus on sodium in blood pressure patients? I don't know. Do you know how much sodium is in most of the food you eat? A freaking ton. His dining out options are sushi, mongolian grill or...a salad with nothing on it. At home, just about everything is made from scratch. And it has paid off.

On to cholesterol.

After Chris' stroke, we met with a doctor and pointed out the strict diet Chris was on (no more whole milk and butter, plus grassfed beef and lots of fish) and asked if it might be possible to eventually get off of cholesterol meds. Mind you, we brought this up and might not have heard the next bit of info if we hadn't. Replies the doctor: Yes. And it might be a good idea since cholesterol meds cause liver failure. YIKES. So Chris has been slowly getting of his cholesterol meds while testing his cholesterol regularly to make sure all is a.o.k. For the last year he has suffered MAJOR back pains. We attributed it to the way he compensated for his right side and he dealt with it. He would come home early from work and sit in bed (the only comfy position) until bedtime. It was horrible times ten. Ok...I'll cut to the chase. He's off his cholesterol meds and his back hasn't bothered him since. Yep. Who would have thunk? We were thinking more physical therapy would fix it. Nope.

The moral? In general (I am sure there are exceptions), look at your diet before looking to a magic pill. Yes, it is easier to pop a pill, but that doesn't necessarily mean it is best for you. Blood pressure is this great epidimic in the US, but if you go check out the nutritional info on most food in the grocery store, you would know why. We don't even bother eating chicken since it is injected with so much stinking saline. Are things a little blander at the Kang abode? Yep, but we have adjusted. When we splurge, you can hear everyone complaining about the saltiness. (They say it takes 3 weeks to adjust)

The end. My novel is complete. Eat less sodium. Amen.


Annalia Romero said...

I don't think I can give up salad dressing, because I hate salad. The dressing is the only thing that makes it palatable to me. Can you think of any alternatives?

Sarah said...

•tzaziki sauce with vinegar (15mg a serving)
•yummy varieties of vinegar
•homemade dressing with salt free spices from penzies or trader joe's
•Chris uses El Pato for just about everything (mexican food aisle, cheap and super low on the sodium)

Nicole Broadbent Gribble said...

Thanks for sharing, Sarah! Your story freaks me out alot, but that's a good thing...if it brings more awareness! I definitely need to reform my family's diet. We pretty much eat whatever we want, whenever we want it, and I'm sure it won't pay off in the long run, although right now we seem to be healthy. Any great cookbooks you recommend for healthier meals?

Paige said...

Amen. Not that I'm eating well at all lately, but I agree wholeheartedly that changing diet is going to be a better fix than meds (which are toxic to our bodies). Did you know most doctors & nurses don't ever take a nutrition class (because it's not required)? Seems like it should be.....

nikko said...

I totally believe it. How we eat has so much to do with how we feel... Good for you for finding an alternative to medication!