Why You Need to Stop Adding Salt and What You Can Do to Make Your Food Taste Good Instead

Why You Need to Stop Adding Salt and What You Can Do to Make Your Food Taste Good Instead

Claremont Colonic Newsletter

On second thought, maybe don’t pass the salt.

Adding salt to your meal at the table is associated with a lower life span and a higher risk for early death, according to a new study.

The study looked at more than 500,000 people in the UK Biobank who responded to a questionnaire between 2006 and 2010 about their salt habits and the frequency with which they added salt to their food. Before you start revisiting all your favorite recipes: Researchers were only looking at how much salt was added after the meals in question were cooked, according to findings published in the European Heart Journal in July.

Researchers followed up with participants about nine years later and found that the more salt people had added to their meals, the greater their chance of early death. However, those people consuming high levels of salt could lower their risk by eating more fruits and vegetables, the study said.

The American Heart Association recommends adults consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of salt per day — but notes the “ideal limit” is 1,500 milligrams per day. Consuming too much salt can raise blood pressure, which in turn can cause heart disease, stroke and kidney disease, the heart association said.

The UK National Health Service recommends that adults limit their sodium intake to about a teaspoon of salt a day.

There is a long track record of scientific research showing that a diet high in salt is risky, but this study adds a new level of caution against adding more to your plate, said lead study author Lu Qi, a professor of epidemiology at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans.

“More evidence, especially those from clinical trials, is needed before the public takes any action,” he said. “However, our findings are in line with the previous studies which consistently show that high sodium intakes are adversely related to various health outcomes such as hypertension and cardiovascular diseases.”

Going further to cut back

Even if you don’t add any salt to your own plate, you might be getting more sodium than you should be.

A 2020 meta-analysis of 133 clinically randomized trials on lowering salt intake found strong evidence that cutting back dietary sodium reduced blood pressure in those with existing hypertension — and even in those who were not yet at risk.

One of the main culprits of high levels of sodium in our diets?

Manufactured foods, which often use salt for flavor, texture, color and preservation. More than 70% of the sodium Americans eat comes from what has been added by the food industry to products later purchased in stores or restaurants, according to the US Food and Drug Administration.

“Most of my patients do not add salt at the dinner table, but don’t realize that bread rolls, canned vegetables and chicken breasts are among the worst culprits (of high sodium) in the US,” said Dr. Stephen Juraschek, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School who researches sodium and hypertension.

Juraschek was not involved in either the Biobank study or 2020 meta-analysis.

But salt makes everything taste so good, you may be thinking.

There are strategies, however, for keeping a vibrant palate and creating enticing dishes with less salt, said Carly Knowles, a registered dietitian who is also a private chef, licensed doula and the author of “The Nutritionist’s Kitchen” cookbook.

Knowles recommends cooking at home — where you have more control over the salt shaker while making your meal — more often, reading the ingredients on your products, substituting in herb and spice blends without salt, and focusing your diet on minimally processed foods.

Contributor: Madeline Holcombe, CNN

The End of Quarantine? What People Should Know About the CDC’s New Covid-19 Guidelines

The End of Quarantine? What People Should Know About the CDC's New Covid-19 Guidelines

Claremont Colonic Newsletter
Last week, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced key changes to its nationwide Covid-19 guidelines. Among them was the end of required quarantine after someone is exposed to a close contact with the coronavirus. The CDC also revised isolation guidance for people infected with Covid-19.
With the required quarantine ending, what should people do if they’ve been exposed? How long should they isolate if they do get infected? What’s the rationale for making the changes? And are there exceptions—who should take precautions above and beyond the new recommendations?

To guide us through the changes, I spoke with CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and professor of health policy and management at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health. She is also author of “Lifelines: A Doctor’s Journey in the Fight for Public Health.”

CNN: Has the CDC really ended quarantine? That seems like a major step.

Dr. Leana Wen: It has effectively ended quarantine for people exposed to Covid-19. I agree, this is a major change in recommendations.

The new guidance says that someone exposed to an individual with Covid-19 no longer needs to quarantine at home, away from others. They can go to work, attend school and be in other settings around people as long as they wear a well-fitting, high-quality mask — ideally an N95 or equivalent. People should mask for 10 days following their exposure. They should also test at least five days after the exposure. If it’s positive, they have Covid-19, and they need to go into isolation. If it’s negative, they have to continue masking for the 10-day duration.

CNN: Can you remind us of the difference between quarantine and isolation?

Wen: Quarantine applies to someone who has been in close contact with an individual infected with the coronavirus. Close contact, according to the CDC, means you’ve been within 6 feet of someone with Covid-19 for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period. Earlier in the pandemic, the recommendations were that those exposed to Covid-19 had to quarantine themselves from others and not be in public. That’s how someone needing “quarantine” was defined — as someone who has not been diagnosed with Covid-19 but does have a significant exposure.

Now, someone with known exposure no longer needs to quarantine, but they do need to have a period of 10 days of masking.

On the other hand, someone should be in isolation if they have been diagnosed with Covid-19. Isolation is defined as being physically separate from others in order to prevent transmitting the virus during the infectious period.

CNN: Are there still some people who should take additional precautions, despite the guidelines eliminating quarantine?

Wen: Yes. The CDC says that people with exposure should take extra precautions when around people who are more likely to get very sick from Covid-19. What I take this to mean is that you should be additionally cautious if you are, say, visiting an elderly grandparent.

If your spouse has the virus right now and you and your kids don’t, you could still go to work and your children to school with a mask, but consider postponing the trip to see medically frail relatives until after the 10-day period. If you live at home with vulnerable individuals, keep your distance during the 10-day period after your exposure, and make sure everyone is masking indoors around one another.

CNN: What do people need to know now about isolation?

Wen: Here, the new CDC guidance is a bit complex.

The basic premise is that individuals diagnosed with Covid-19, whether they are symptomatic or asymptomatic, need to isolate for at least five days. These initial five days are the period where you are most likely to be contagious. The CDC emphasizes that you should try to stay home and separate from others if possible. Don’t travel, and don’t go to places where you can’t wear a mask, such a restaurant where you will be eating.

If you have no symptoms, or if you have symptoms and they are improving and you remain fever-free for at least 24 hours, you can end isolation after five days. For the next five days, you should still mask while in public places. So you can go to work, but keep masking at work, and make sure to mask while on the train or bus there.

There are some caveats here. First, the CDC guidance says that if you had moderate illness, defined as shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, or if you required hospitalization, or are immunocompromised, you should isolate until day 10. This makes sense, because more serious illness or having a compromised immune system suggests you could have had a higher viral load that takes more time to clear.

Second, CDC once again emphasizes caution around people who are likely to get very ill from Covid-19. If you just had Covid-19, you should wait at least until after day 10 to visit medically frail family or friends. I would add here, too, that you should test negative by rapid antigen test prior to seeing vulnerable individuals indoors. This is not something the CDC recommends, but I think the negative test adds more reassurance to protect those at high risk.

Third, speaking of testing, the new guidance also says that you could end your 10 days of masking early if you take two rapid tests 48 hours apart. Let’s say that by day five, your rapid test is negative. You could take another test on day seven, and if it’s negative, no longer need to mask after that.

I think this is sensible, and actually wish the CDC would be even more explicit with its recommendation to clear isolation based on testing. There are some individuals who will still be testing positive on day 11. Here I am referring only to the home rapid antigen test, as the PCR test could remain positive for much longer. I think it would be even safer to say that you need to be testing negative before being around vulnerable individuals, even if it’s been, say, 12 or 13 days.

CNN: What about people who start testing positive again after first testing negative — the so-called “rebound” phenomenon? Does the clock reset for them?

Wen: Good question, and yes it does. This “rebound” phenomenon is often associated with taking the antiviral Paxlovid but could happen in people who don’t take treatments. The CDC guidance says that if someone tests positive again, the clock resets and the day they test positive the second time is day zero again. That means they still have to go through five days of isolation and mask until after day 10, just as they did the first time.

CNN: Why were these changes made? Did the science change, or is the CDC responding to public pressure?

Wen: I think there are two factors. One is the acknowledgment that Covid-19 is here to stay. We are probably going to be living with this virus for our lifetimes and our children’s lifetimes and beyond. Given that’s the case, the emphasis has to be to resume normalcy, which means cutting out policies that are disruptive to everyday life.

The other factor is that public health has to respond to where the public is. Most Americans have returned to many aspects of pre-pandemic life. The CDC guidelines seem to be meeting people where they are already — and, to some, not going far enough — for example, they still recommend masking in high-transmission areas even though most people are not doing so. For public health to be trusted, it has to be seen as relevant, and if the guidance from the CDC is too far apart from people’s everyday behavior, it won’t be trusted.

Implicit here is that there isn’t new research that’s leading to the change. Quarantine isn’t being removed because Covid-19 has become less infectious. However, circumstances have changed, including the fact that we have many more tools that reduce the likelihood of severe illness from the coronavirus.

All in all, I think the CDC made the right call. Easing restrictions now preserves the credibility of public health officials later, if stricter guidance has to be in place because of a new, more dangerous variant.

Contributor: Katia Hetter, CNN Health

New Study: This Ancient Spice Can Help You Lose Weight

New Study: This Ancient Spice Can Help You Lose Weight

Claremont Colonic Newsletter
Research has already shown that black pepper can help improve digestion, reduce your risk of cancer, and boost your brain power, but a new study has found that this ancient spice can also help you lose weight.
Also known as kali mirch, black pepper is indigenous only to the southwestern India province of Kerala. This delicious spice is a staple in most people’s pantries these days, but as early as 1000 BCE, pepper was a valuable luxury, available only via the spice trade. Thankfully, you don’t have to go much further than the grocery store or a nice restaurant to find freshly ground pepper. And with the latest research into its health benefits, you’re going to want pepper now more than ever.

Researchers at the Sri Venkateswara University have found that black pepper can reduce the harmful effects of high-calorie diets. For 22 weeks, male rats were fed a high-fat diet. In week 16, the experimental group of rats received piperonal derived from piperine. Piperine is the organic compound in black pepper that gives it its characteristic taste.

During the study, the research team measured subjects’ plasma levels of glucose, insulin and lipids. Bone mineral composition and density were also studied via dual-energy X-ray (DXA) images, and fat tissue was measured using MRI technology.

At the conclusion of the study, the team found the experimental group had a lower body fat percentage than the rats who did not consume the compound. The test rats also weighed less, had stronger bones and lower blood sugar levels.

Although the study focused solely on the anti-obesity properties of black pepper, and not its anti-inflammatory properties which might also aid in weight loss, the results are promising. It certainly has us reaching for the pepper grinder more often.

What’s the best black pepper?

Whenever possible, use fresh ground pepper from a pepper mill. As soon as you grind pepper, it releases the un-oxidized center of the peppercorns, giving you the most potent health benefits from the spice. Whole peppercorns can also be stored in the freezer, while ground pepper cannot. Store-bought ground pepper may also contain extra spices or fillers.

Here are some creative ways to get more black pepper:

Drink your pepper

A sprinkle of black pepper in your chai tea or turmeric golden milk adds an extra little kick to your morning beverage. If you drink bone broth, add some spice to it with a little freshly-ground black pepper.

Spice up your fruit

Try fresh ground pepper next time you nosh on melon slices during the summer. Add pepper to your favorite homemade raspberry vinaigrette or pair the spice with acidic fruits like pineapple or tart plums.

Use black pepper essential oil

A drop or two of black pepper essential oil to a pot of vegetarian chili or your favorite pasta sauce packs a big punch of healthful flavor. Add the oil slowly and taste test as you cook if you’re sensitive to the heat.

Don’t be afraid to add pepper to rubs for grass-fed steaks, marinades for grilled vegetables or even your fruit smoothies. The sweet flavor of strawberries, in particular, mixes perfectly with fresh ground pepper.

Other health benefits of black pepper

Numerous studies show that black pepper can help relieve aches and pains through its anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties. Even when applied topically, black pepper helps relieve physical pain. In a 2014 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, subjects who experienced neck pain applied a cream of black pepper, marjoram, peppermint and lavender essential oils to their necks each day over four weeks. The group who used the cream experienced improved pain tolerance and improved neck pain.

Another study found that rats who were fed high-fat diets and black pepper had lower overall cholesterol levels than the control group. Their triglycerides were also lower. Most notably, subjects’ HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels elevated while their LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels fell.

When mixed with turmeric or cinnamon essential oil, black pepper essential oil can improve circulation and stimulates mucus flow. It has also been shown to have antiviral properties and targets a virus without damaging the cells around it.

Whether you like to keep it safe when adding pepper to your day or you decide to try some of the more adventurous recipes we’ve suggested, black pepper can help you live healthier. It might even help you lose a little more weight and feel better after you come off the running trail.

What’s your favorite way to include pepper in your diet?

Contributor: Megan Winkler-AlternativeDaily.com