It better be leaning heavily towards potassium because otherwise, you have a greater risk of dying, according to a new study. It found that people who eat high sodium, low potassium diets have a higher risk of dying from a heart attack or from any cause. The study, which appears in the July 11, 2011 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, adds to the already-substantial evidence that high salt diets have negative effects on health. And it highlights a key dietary change people should make: Eat more fresh vegetables and fruits, which are naturally high in potassium and low in sodium—and eat less bread, cheese, and processed meat, since these and other processed foods are high in sodium and low in potassium.
When it comes to the heart, sodium and potassium have opposite effects. High sodium increases blood pressure, ultimately leading to heart disease, while it also has a directly hardening, stiffening effect on blood vessels. High potassium, on the other hand, helps relax blood vessels which lowers blood pressure. Our bodies need far more potassium each day than sodium, and the latest guidelines say that most Americans should limit their sodium intake to 1,500 milligrams per day, the amount in about two-thirds of a teaspoon of table salt. But the typical US diet— being low in produce and high on processed foods—is just the opposite: Americans average about 3,300 milligrams of sodium per day while only getting about 2,900 milligrams of potassium each day. They’re consuming more sodium than potassium, which is deadly!
The newest study, which is based on diet reports from participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, followed just over 12,000 men and women for an average of 15 years. Sodium intakes averaged about 4,300 milligrams per day in men and 2,900 milligrams a day in women. Potassium intakes averaged a good bit lower (3,400 milligrams and 2,400 milligrams), and substantially lower than the 4,700 milligrams per day that the US government recommends. (7)
People with the highest sodium intakes had a 20 percent higher risk of death from any cause than people with the lowest sodium intakes. People with the highest potassium intakes had a 20 percent lower risk of dying than people with the lowest intakes. But what may be even more important for health is the relationship of sodium to potassium in the diet: People with the highest ratio of sodium to potassium in their diets had double the risk of dying of a heart attack than people with the lowest ratio, and they had a 50 percent higher risk of death from any cause.
The US government and European governments have started working with the food industry to lower sodium levels. Finland and the UK have done the most, and in the US, the Institute of Medicine has recommended that the FDA regulate the amount of salt in commercially prepared food. Some manufacturers have voluntarily agreed to cut back on sodium by 20 percent over the next five years, but Campbell Soup announced in early July 2011 that it was raising sodium levels in some of its soups, blaming its previous salt reduction for sagging sales.
Ultimately, regulatory efforts will be futile because consumers can always add salt to their food. If the soup tastes bland to them, they’ll just add salt at home.
But, what consumers need to realize is that you adjust to a lower salt intake over time, that initially the food tastes bland to you because you’re used to that jolt of salt, but eventually you learn to appreciate the more subtle flavor of the foods without salt or with less salt. Your taste buds can return to a more pristine state of savoring food without salt. It’s worth the effort to do this because high-salt is deadly.
Fiddler on the Roof is a wonderful musical, and I would like to share a few impressions about it with you- and there is a health angle. Of course, I saw it years and decades ago and more than once. But, I hadn’t seen it in a long time until I saw it recently, and I liked it just as much. I consider it a masterpiece, a spectacle of storytelling and fun, but the thing about it that is absolutely genius is: the music.
The composer, Jerry Bock, is not a household name like Rogers and Hammerstein, nor like Irving Berlin, but he is up there with them. His songs are absolute gems, and I have every expectation that a thousand years from now people will be listening to and singing, Sunrise Sunset, If I Were a Rich Man, To Life, Matchmaker and more.
For me, musical genius is the most intriguing kind of genius, and I am referring to composers. Of course, there have been a lot of great composers, but very few of this caliber. I would say that it is a one-in-a-million talent, except that that isn’t scarce enough. It’s more like one in a hundred million or maybe one in two hundred million people who can compose like this.
And it wasn’t just his songs. Even the instrumental dance numbers were very sophisticated and musically accomplished. It’s breathtaking to realize that one person wrote all that.
The story was supposed to take place in the fictional Jewish village of Anatevka in Russia in 1905, but my impression is that it would have been in modern-day Ukraine, since they kept mentioning Kiev as the big city. But, it was actually filmed in Croatia in 1971, which was part of Yugoslavia, which was part of the Soviet Union. And as you know, Communism was still in force then, as was the Cold War. So, I’m sure it took some haggling to get this Western movie made in a Communist country. And what I notice is that Communism is well represented in the movie. What I mean is that it is not maligned. The bad guys in the story are definitely the tsarists- not the commies. And the young zealot, Perchik, who is infused with socialist idealism, speaks of it as the path to freedom. And when he is arrested by the tsar army, he is sent off to Siberia. Isn’t that where the gulags were that Solzhenitsyn wrote about? How ironic! But here’s what I think: I think the Yugoslav government must have insisted that the impending Communist revolution in Russia be presented in a favorable light; otherwise they would not grant permission to film in that country.
I mentioned there is a health angle. There was a lot in the story about food, and it was mostly animal food. There were a lot of references to slaughtering animals. Five chickens were given as a wedding present- “one for each of the first five Sabbaths of their wedded life.” Slaughtering cows was discussed. You see activity in a butcher shop. Tevye, the leading character, was a milk man. And besides producing the milk and delivering the milk, he also had time to make cheese. I’d say it was an impossible amount of work output for one man and his family. But, I also found it interesting that he was frequently delivering milk to people, but nobody ever paid him. You never saw him collect so much as a ruble. No wonder he complained of poverty!
But, speaking of poverty, I want to point out a glaring contradiction: Tevye kept bemoaning being poor although he never seemed that poor. He had all these animals. He had a big place. He looked well-fed, as did his family. And they were all nicely dressed. Nobody was in rags. And they were eating a high animal food diet.
A high animal food diet is inherently NOT a poor diet. It is a rich diet. That’s because the conversion of plant foods to animal foods involves a great deal of caloric waste. For whatever calories of plant food you feed to animals, you only get back about 15% of it as animal food. So, it takes a vast abundance of plant food to maintain a high animal food diet. So, these people were not as poor as they thought themselves to be.
In the story, you see them cleaning chickens and fish for meal preparation, and you also see them baking bread. But, they didn’t show any vegetables. There was a bowl with some apples at the wedding- but that is as far as it went for fresh produce.
And otherwise in the story, you see some smoking going on, but not by Tevye, and not so much by any of the Jews but rather by the gentiles. But, there is a lot of drinking- by everybody. Following the agreement that Lazar Wolf would marry Tevye’s daughter Zeitel, the two men start drinking heavily. It was probably supposed to be vodka because it was clear as water, and I’m sure it was water. But, they were putting it down in an amount that could have produced acute alcohol intoxication.
Of course, the whole idea of the story is that they lived according to “tradition” but the traditions were being challenged by all the changes going on in the world. Tevye even says at the beginning that: “In Anatevka, we have traditions for everything, how to eat, how to sleep…” etc. You definitely get the impression that it was an agriculturally-rich area with a relatively mild climate: undoubtedly cold in the winter but with a long enough warm season to produce ample crops. So, the practice of eating all that animal food and making it so prominent in the diet was definitely just a tradition; it wasn’t necessary- not there.
And today, because of commerce and technology and distribution, it really isn’t necessary anywhere. Plant foods are abundant everywhere, and plant foods are what people should be primarily eating. I don’t say people have to be strict vegetarians, but they should definitely be MOSTLY vegetarian- if they are going to eat wisely. Loading up on animal foods is an antiquated practice- nutritionally speaking.
But, watch Fiddler on the Roof if you haven’t seen it because it is delightful. I have seen it many times, and I will see it more times because it is a spectacle of genius and talent and accomplishment. It is one of the greatest musicals of all time.
I wrote an article bashing diuretics for my retreat website:
That was some years ago, but I have not changed my mind or softened my position. Taking diuretics does not solve anyone's problems. It only adds a new problem to the ones they already have, which is pharmaceutical dehydration. It is a doctor-induced abnormality which guarantees more trouble down the road.
So, please read the above article.
But, now I want to discuss a recent research study about the use of diuretics for high blood pressure. Specifically, it compared the effectiveness of two popular diuretics: chlorthalidone and HCTZ. Which is better for treating high blood pressure? Well, they determined that they were both about the same at preventing death and cardiovascular catastrophes, but HCTZ incurred fewer hospitalizations for diuretic side effects: hypokalemia (low blood potassium) hyponatremia (low blood sodium) heart rhythm disturbances, and other problems. So, the gist of it was that HCTZ is the better choice.
But, I want you to realize how presumptuous the whole thing was. My contention is that diuretics do not prevent any deaths from high blood pressure, and therefore I wanted to pick apart that aspect of the data. But that they glossed over, insisting that patient outcomes were about the same in both groups. But traditionally in medical research, they include a “control group“ that doesn't get the treatment so that you can see what happens to people who don't get the drug at all. Usually, they just give them a placebo- a fake, inert pill.
So, did they use a placebo-control in this case? No, they didn't. I don't know that they ever have.
In this case, they glossed over the effectiveness of either drug, but digging deep I found it. Among patients taking either drug, about 3 and ½ out of 100 suffered a major cardiovascular event which resulted in hospitalization or death per year. So, at the end of the first year, 3 and ½ were so affected; by the end of the second year about 7 were affected; by the end of the third year, over 10% were affected, etc.
Are those good results? They assumed that they were. But, compared to what? They didn't say. And, they don't sound like good results to me.
"After adjustment for baseline differences, the patients treated with chlorthalidone and those treated with HCTZ did not differ in the primary study outcome: a composite of death or hospitalization with acute myocardial infarction, heart failure, or ischemic stroke.”
So, they didn't differ, but how did taking diuretics compare to doing nothing? Again: they didn't say.
But notice that above they admitted that people taking diuretics for high blood pressure continue to have heart attacks, strokes, and heart failure. Therefore, I have to ask: what good are they?
“However, patients treated with chlorthalidone were approximately 3 times more likely to be hospitalized with hypokalemia and approximately 1.7 times more likely than those prescribed HCTZ to be hospitalized with hyponatremia.”
So, this wasn't really a comparison of the benefits from diuretics; it was a comparison of the harms. And they decided that one was more harmful than the other. But, the idea that taking a diuretic, any diuretic, is a good thing was just presumed and was never tested.
When a person has high blood pressure, there are certain abnormalities that are responsible for it. Taking a diuretic corrects none of the abnormalities. It usually lowers the blood pressure some, but that's because the resultant dehydration reduces the blood volume some. But, it doesn't usually lower it that much, and that's why in the majority of cases doctors decide that the diuretic drug isn't enough, and they give the patient another blood pressure drug to go along with it.
By itself, a diuretic drug might lower the blood pressure about 10 points. It might knock a 150 blood pressure down to 140. Is it worth it to endure the harms from the diuretic to get that 10 point drop? I don't think it is, and they, the medical establishment, refuse to test it by doing placebo-controlled studies.
But, let's remember that in real life, people aren't limited to taking a drug or a placebo. They also have the option of doing constructive things to correct their high blood pressure. That would include ditching harmful substances that cause blood pressure to rise, such as salt, alcohol, and caffeine. It would include taking off excess weight, that is, shedding excess body fat and getting down to lean body weight. It would include exercising. It would include switching over to a high fruit and vegetable diet; eating mostly plant foods and severely restricting animal foods. And it might also include taking natural supplements that can safely help to lower blood pressure, such as magnesium, resveratrol, CoQ10, fish oil, melatonin, and more.
How do you think that would affect the death rate compared to taking a diuretic? They are never going to do a medical research study to find out, but I can just imagine the results.
The vast majority of people with hypertension have “walking hypertension” where they don't have symptoms from it, and the doctor just tells them that their blood pressure is high. These people do not need drugs. They do not need diuretics, and they don't need any other drugs. They need the above regimen that I laid out. Throwing drugs at them may lower the pressure some, but it will not restore them to health, and it will not reduce their risk of future problems. It is simply the wrong way to go.
So, if you are discovered to have high blood pressure, so long as it's not an emergency situation, it's time for you to say Sayonara to your regular MD and get started on a real health program. Forcing the pressure down with drugs only creates the illusion of improvement; it is not a real health improvement. It does not restore normality. In reality, it just digs you in deeper and guarantees more trouble down the road.
So, I wouldn't do it; I wouldn't recommend it. Stop everything if you have to and just attend to your health through natural means. Just say no to the medical monkey-business, because that's all it is.
I found a new report interesting where researchers discovered that Vitamin C can kill multidrug-resistant TB germs (tuberculosis) in the lab. The study authors from Yeshiva University in Israel made the revelation in Nature Communications, and they think the same action may be possible form giving vitamin C to humans. Lead investigator Dr William Jacobs, professor of microbiology and immunology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University, says, "We have only been able to demonstrate this in a test tube, and we don't know if it will work in humans and in animals. This would be a great study to consider because we have strains of tuberculosis that we don't have drugs for, and I know that in the laboratory we can kill those strains with vitamin C. It also helps that we know vitamin C is inexpensive, widely available and very, very safe to use. At the very least, this work shows us a new mechanism that we can exploit to attack TB."
This does sound promising, and I hope they pursue it. For the record, I don’t take megadoses of Vitamin C in my daily life, and I don’t desire to do so, even if this turns into something terrific. And the reason is that I wouldn’t want to condition my body to getting a super-high dose of Vitamin C all the time. If I did it all the time, my body would adapt to it by getting lazy about absorbing Vitamin C; it would accelerate the breakdown and degradation of Vitamin C; and it would do other things to neutralize the effect I was trying to achieve. So, when I’m healthy and fit and doing fine, I want to take a generous but not exorbitant amount of Vitamin C. To my mind, that means taking no more than 1000 mgs of Vitamin C a day in supplement form, and otherwise eating a lot of Vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables. That’s as high as I’m willing to go on a daily basis. But, if I were in a situation where I was fighting an infection or had some other health problem, I would be entirely open to temporarily taking much more Vitamin C, either orally or intravenously, depending on the circumstances. And I mean, perhaps, for several weeks. And so far, thankfully, I haven’t been in that situation so I haven’t had to do it or consider doing it. So, I have never actually done it. But, I would certainly be open to it if my circumstances changed for the worse.
When it comes to therapeutics, my attitude is that when you can do something which may be helpful, and where it is entirely safe and can’t possibly hurt you, which is certainly true of taking Vitamin C, then it pays to do it. And that’s another reason why I don’t want to do it all the time because I suspect it will have greater potential to help if I am conservative with Vitamin C in the day to day.
But, everything is relative. According to the government 90 mgs of Vitamin C is all you need, and they only raised it under pressure. The RDA used to be 60 mgs. But, living in a state of ideal Nature where fresh produce comprised a large percentage of your diet, you would naturally get many hundreds of milligrams of Vitamin C every day, and that is the natural order for a human being. So, I can’t imagine that 60 or 90 mgs is optimal. I definitely want to get close to if not over a gram a day, and I do. But, I’m not willing to enter the Linus Pauling realm of Vitamin C intake. And what’s interesting is that the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, which is devoted to nutritional research, lauds Vitamin C, but they don’t actually recommend the high doses that he took. Word to the wise.
The American Urological Association- an organization of board-certified urologists- is now condemning the routine use of PSA testing for prostate cancer, and for two reasons: 1) it's not that accurate, and 2) treating prostate cancer, even when it's confirmed, is often ill-advised. It is usually ill-advised.
Remember that the whole idea is to stay alive, and the data shows that men with prostate cancer who do nothing live as long as those who undergo radical treatment. So, what's the point? And the treatment is never harmless. It often results in impotence and/or incontinence and other harms.
It also results in pain, distress, risk of complications from the surgery, radiation, etc., and the surgery may even help spread cancer cells around. The tendency to get some cancer cells in the prostate gland is almost universal among men. In men who are in their 80s or older, the presence of such cells is almost guaranteed. But, they usually stay put in the gland and cause no trouble until the man dies of something else.
Basically, if you are an older man, and you are excreting your urine alright, and you're not in any pain, and there is no outward sign of trouble, then you shouldn't allow any prostate interventions. Forget about it.
Regarding the PSA test, it's just a blood test, so it's harmless in itself. So, if you really want to do it, you can. But, stick to the rule above regardless of the results.
I don't really recommend a passive approach. On the contrary, I think you should assume that prostate cancer is inevitable, and your goal is to minimize the risk of it, with the hope you never have to undergo drastic measures. A preventative program should include foods that have been shown to cut the risk, and they're all plants. I'm referring to foods like cruciferous vegetables, blueberries, and pomegranates. Eat tomatoes and tomato products to get the lypopene. Eat these high-antioxidant foods because they are likely to either prevent prostate cancer completely or keep it toned down and non-aggresive. And either of those outcomes are fine.
But, there is more that you can do. Taking high-dose VItamin D3 is a very good idea as a prostate cancer preventive. I recommend at least 5000 IUs daily.
Taking melatonin at night is a good idea for prostate cancer prevention. Melatonin is anti-mutagenic. I found this from the University of Maryland Medical Center: "
"Studies show that men with prostate cancer have lower melatonin levels than men without the disease. In test tube studies, melatonin blocks the growth of prostate cancer cells."
Other supplements can help too, such as resveratrol, which has the potential to inhibit prostate cancer cells. Good food and good supplements constitute a powerful double whammy against prostate cancer.
But, there is more yet that you can do. Keep your weight down. Getting heavy- especially in the abdomen with a pot belly- is very bad. It adds mechanical pressure which can impede drainage from the prostate, resulting in morbid accumulations.
And exercise- a lot- because when you exercise, you also relieve congestion in the prostate.
And have sex regularly- even as you get older- because it too relieves congestion in the prostate.
So, what I am saying is that, by all means, think of yourself as a prostate cancer patient and take all the lifestyle and nutritional measures that are proven to fight it. But, unless you have a urinary obstruction or are in pain or have a major clinical development, do not allow any conventional treatment. And if you skip the PSA test completely, it's fine with me.