The Salty Six: Are High-Sodium Foods Increasing Your Stroke Risk?
Excess amounts of sodium doesn’t just increase your risk of a heart attack, it can also increase your risk of a stroke. Unfortunately, avoiding that saltshaker may not be enough. Did you know that the average American consumes 3,400 milligrams of sodium each day? That’s a dangerous number considering that the American Heart Association recommends limiting daily sodium intake to 1,500 milligrams (about half the weight of a penny) to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. The problem is not necessarily that you’re putting too much salt on your food, it’s that salt is already in the foods you’re regularly eating. To help keep your sodium intake at a healthy level, make sure you’re aware of “The Salty Six,” six sneaky foods that are surprisingly high in sodium. Breads, Rolls and Tortillas: Although breads and tortillas may not initially appear to be high in sodium, we often consume several servings. Make sure to keep track of your total servings to see how they add up. Deli Meat, Cured Meats and Poultry: It may surprise you that six thin slices of deli meat can add up to more than half of your daily limit, so be mindful when building those sandwiches. Also, do your best to avoid cured meats, which often means the meat has been salted. Substitute uncured, skinless meats instead. Cheese: Salt is an important addition in the cheese-making process, as it prevents bacterial growth. Unfortunately, that added salt can increase your health risks. Limit the amount of cheese you add to meals to keep your sodium content down. Pizza: Take a quick look at the first three items above and it should be no surprise as to why pizza made the list. One slice and you’ve met at least half of your daily limit. Go easy on the cheese and try adding more veggies instead of meat. Canned Soup: One cup of canned soup can be as high as nearly 1,000 milligrams of sodium. When shopping for canned soup it’s important to check the label – not just on sodium content but serving size as well. Always select low-sodium options when possible or cook your own soup at home. Sandwiches and Burgers: A sandwich or burger from your favorite restaurant can contain more than 100 percent of your daily sodium limit. When dining out, it is best to select low-sodium options or eat a half portion to limit the amount of salt. If some of your favorite foods are on this Salty Six list, don’t panic. Although these foods can be high in sodium, it isn’t necessary to cut these foods out of your diet completely. It’s just important to eat them in moderation and be mindful of your daily sodium intake. Look for low-sodium options, use herbs and spices instead of table salt and do your best to stay under the recommended daily limit of 1,500 milligrams.”
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Alzheimer’s Disease – How to Spot the Signs
Alzheimer’s disease is not normal forgetfulness as we age. Instead, it is a specific form of mental decline. And according to the Alzheimer’s Association it accounts for nearly 80 percent all dementia cases. Natasa Dragicevic, MD, PhD., behavioral neurologist and Alzheimer’s disease specialist with Renown Institute for Neurosciences, weighs in on diagnosing it and the importance of early medical action. How to Diagnose Alzheimer’s Disease In general, the signs of Alzheimer’s disease occur slowly, getting worse over time. For example, forgetfulness is a daily search – for shoes, keys and other misplaced items. Not only is memory affected, but also speech patterns and behavior. There is no single test for Alzheimer’s disease. “Specifically, a neurologist should be the one to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease given differences in presentation,” clarifies Dr. Dragicevic. “And ideally a behavioral neurologist (Alzheimer’s sub-specialist) will be managing the treatment,” she adds. Brain Imaging Diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease involves multiple approaches and medical providers. In short, medical history is reviewed along with a physical exam, lab tests and other diagnostic testing. “A medical workup includes a variety of tests. These include MRI and other brain imaging, as well as neurological and psychological testing. Furthermore, a lumbar puncture is performed to look for markers of the disease,” she states. What Causes Alzheimer’s disease? Although no one knows the cause, researchers think many factors play a role. Uncontrollable risk factors include your genetics and having a family member with the disease. However, the controllable risk factors include: reducing the risk of head injury and keeping your heart healthy. It’s important to realize that high blood pressure, high cholesterol, stroke and diabetes play a role in brain health. Blood loss to the brain causes vascular dementia, leading to long-term blood vessel damage. Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease Generally speaking, the signs of this disease differ in each person. Yet noticeable behaviors include: • Losing the way to familiar places • Forgetting to pay bills • Trouble finding the right words when talking • Repeating questions • General confusion • Social withdrawal Alzheimer’s Disease – Benefits of Early Diagnosis Equally important, spotting Alzheimer’s disease early allows more time to benefit from medications and possible clinical trials. Likewise, nutrition and exercise changes can be made, increasing blood flow to the body, and perhaps delaying symptoms. Early diagnosis also allows for personal health decisions and quality-of-life conversations to take place. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, these benefits include: 1. Medical advantage 2. Emotional and social comfort 3. Time to plan ahead 4. Cost savings A Brain Supporting Lifestyle “At the present time, treatment is limited,” explains Dr. Dragicevic. “Usually Alzheimer’s is a progressive ongoing disease – any management at this time is purely symptomatic.” However, she states the following lifestyle changes can help support brain health: • New hobbies such as painting, pottery, music classes or learning a new language • Crosswords, puzzles and playing games, such as Scrabble • Brain challenging mobile apps, such as Luminosity • 30-45 minutes of mild to moderate physical activity per day, such as walking • Eating a Mediterranean diet (primarily plant based foods)