Last Saturday, Food Lovers magazine had invited me to speak on Nutrition & Health as a part of their Food Fiesta celebration at 1 MG Mall. One of the questions raised by the audience was “Is salt necessary for the body? What if we don’t take salt at all?”
Salt (rather, sodium) is needed for the body. Sodium is required to maintain the fluid balance and to transmit nerve impulses. Salt being the best source of dietary sodium, it is required in small amounts on a daily basis. Unfortunately, the average daily intake of salt by an Indian far exceeds the limit set by nutrition experts. Last year, WHO issued guidelines for sodium intake even for children. This indicates that most people are eating more salt than necessary, and by reducing the intake of salt we can reduce the risk of cardiac related health problems.
Sodium is not only added to cooked foods in the form of salt at home but is also present in processed foods. Here are a few tips to cut back on sodium / salt intake –
Many stories and anecdotes surround mono sodium glutamate which is commonly referred to as MSG. Headache, sweating, burning, pain, weakness, nausea, etc have been associated with the intake of MSG although research has yet to prove the connection. Commonly termed ‘Chinese restaurant syndrome’ because people believe that the symptoms appear after they have eaten a Chinese meal, MSG is commonly used in many Chinese dishes.
MSG was first discovered in Japan more than a hundred years ago. Today MSG is used in processed meats, canned vegetables, sauces, soups, apart from Chinese cooking. The US FDA regards MSG as safe for consumption but mandates the ingredient to be listed on the food label.
People on a sodium-restricted diet will need to restrict or avoid the use of MSG because of its sodium content. Also, if you have a reaction after eating food with MSG, it’s best to avoid MSG in your food.
As of today, MSG is not considered harmful, but we don’t know what research will tell us some years later.
Today is World Health Day, and this year’s theme is High Blood Pressure. High blood pressure also known as hypertension increases the risks of heart attack, stroke and kidney failure. However, hypertension is preventable and treatable.
On the occasion of this year’s World Health Day, The Times of India, Bangalore, carried my article yesterday (April 06, 2013) in their wellness section. I’ve published the same article here for the blog readers –
Diet Helps Maintain Normal Blood Pressure
It’s a given that high blood pressure and diet are linked. What and how much you eat can increase the risk of high blood pressure, and at the same time can also help to control your blood pressure.
Increased intake of sodium, calories, saturated fat and alcohol, along with other factors like heredity, smoking, stress and sedentary lifestyle accelerate your risk of high blood pressure.
Dietary changes to control your blood pressure
Steps to prevent or control blood pressure
As women, we always worry about whether or not we are getting enough calcium. It’s becoming fashionable to take calcium supplements after stepping into middle age. Do all women really need calcium supplements once they cross 40? No.
Traditional Indian diets included adequate calcium-rich foods and there was no need for calcium supplements in the form of tablets. Lifestyle changes over the last few decades have robbed calcium from our bones and supplementation has become common.
Some of the calcium ‘robbers’ are carbonated beverages, smoking, alcohol, caffeine, sodium and sedentary lives. If the ‘robbers’ can be eliminated (eg – smoking) or restricted (eg – sodium), we have a greater retention of calcium in our bones and reduced need for supplements.
Also, include calcium-rich foods like soybean, horse gram, chick peas (channa), ragi, dairy foods, green leafy vegetables, fish, sesame seeds (til), cumin seeds (jeera), almonds, regularly in your diet.