The preventable deaths of 100,000 citizens a year would seem to be a national crisis. How often does the FDA get the chance to save so many lives simply by regulating an unnecessary food additive?
San Diego, CA (PRWEB) April 28, 2010
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) Report Brief, Strategies to Reduce Sodium Intake in the United States, condemns the amount of salt most Americans eat. The April 2010 report concludes that nationwide action to decrease sodium in food could stop more than 100,000 deaths each year.
The Report Brief recommends that the FDA set mandatory national standards for sodium content in foods. "The IOM uses strong language," observes Janice Stanger, Ph.D., author of The Perfect Formula Diet. "The preventable deaths of 100,000 citizens a year would seem to be a national crisis. How often does the FDA get the chance to save so many lives simply by regulating an unnecessary food additive?"
Instead of rapid response to an identified public health emergency, the IOM report recommends a gradual phase-in of reduced sodium. This strategy’s goal is to give manufacturers a level playing field and consumers time to adjust their tastes so that processed food still is appetizing. While industry is protected by this approach, consumers are left to fend for themselves for years if they want to reduce blood pressure as much as possible.
Here are ten actions consumers can choose now to take control of their health and outdistance the FDA.
1. Send their taste buds to boot camp. Changing tastes is about a three week transition process. If people are willing to stop cooking with salt for three weeks, and cut back significantly on processed and restaurant food during that period, they will reeducate their taste buds. At the end of three weeks, consumers will experience formerly appetizing foods as too salty. Although salt is generally required for baking, for all other recipes the family member doing the cooking can just omit the salt.
2. Instead of salty processed foods, consumers should choose whole plant foods. These natural powerhouses are low in sodium and high in nutrients. The optimal low-sodium diet is based on a variety of vegetables, fruits, beans, potatoes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. These appealing choices are best prepared without added salt and oils.
3. Use herbs and spices to enhance the flavor of food instead of salt. These tasty additions are very rich in protective phytochemicals, plant-based nutrients that enhance health and act as antioxidants. The appealing fragrance of herbs and spices makes food irresistible.
4. Read food labels carefully. An excessive amount of sodium can be hiding in foods that do not taste salty. This is especially true for canned, dried, and frozen prepared foods, cheese, and processed meat, chicken, and fish.
5. After reading the labels, consumers can choose the alternative that has the lowest amount of sodium in the amount of food they plan to eat.
6. Consumers should also be aware of sodium in beverages. For example, some vegetable juices are heavily salted.
7. Patients who have been advised by their physicians to limit sodium should carefully track its consumption. While the IOM recommends no more that 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day for people over two years old, some people may have medical conditions which require a lower salt intake and careful vigilance to control.
8. Wash canned beans and vegetables with fresh water in a strainer to get off as much sodium as possible. Even better, consumers can choose fresh foods or cook dried beans without salt.
9. Consumers should use gourmet salts as sparingly as regular table salt. While these high end, pricey products do have some trace minerals, sodium is still the dominant substance and the amounts add up quickly.
10. When traveling, bring food on the trip so choices are not limited by airport concessions or fast food. At restaurants, diners can ask for information on the amount of sodium in various menu items. While restaurants do not always have these numbers, asking will send a message that the amount of sodium is important.
The single most important shift for consumers who want to take control of their food and get healthy is to realize that, even without any salt, processed foods are best minimized. For example, would chips be healthy even with no added salt? Would fries, or crackers made with white flour and chemicals, or donuts? Nutrition studies clearly show that whole plant foods are the basis of a healthy diet. Food choices are key in enhancing both health and appearance.