I have a lot of patients that when I ask them to tell me about their eating habits they proceed to tell me about how they have restricted their salt intake. There are very few of these same patients that understand that salt is necessary for life and virtually nothing in our body will function without it. This includes our nervous system and muscles which are powered by ion gradients of which sodium plays an important role.
Much of this focus on salt intake in regards to our diet has come from government and doctors. While eating too much salt can be a problem for some, the vast majority of us can manage the salt balance in our bodies without a problem.
The brings me to a controversial study published in the prestigious medical journal, the Lancet. The study looked at four different studies with over 100,000 participants. The study estimated salt intake by measuring morning urine salt content in patients and then measuring their health outcomes over several years. The results of the study showed that "high sodium intake is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular events and death in hypertensive populations (no association in normotensive population), while the association of low sodium intake with increased risk of cardiovascular events and death is observed in those with or without hypertension. These data suggest that lowering sodium intake is best targeted at populations with hypertension who consume high sodium diets."
To summarize, participants with low salt intake had a higher risk of heart attack, stroke, and death. The study also showed that eating a moderate amount of salt of about 3000 mg per day was associated with the best health.
One of the lead researchers, Andrew Mente, stated that "having neither too high nor too low levels of sodium is optimal for health."
In conclusion, I think it is probably important to keep in mind that like most things in life moderation seems to be the key. In some cases salt intake will need to be lowered as directed by your doctor especially if you have heart or kidney disease. Before changing the salt content of your diet please consult with your doctor first.
Interesting new science has been published by a team of researchers at Harvard. Published last month in the journal Science Translational Medicine is a study that tested whether infections, including mild infections, may provoke reactions in the brain that protect from infection but lead to Alzheimer's disease later on in life.
The researchers propose the following scenario. An intruder to the brain like a virus, bacterium, or fungus bypasses the normal barrier to entry to the brain. The barrier, also known as the blood brain barrier, becomes leakier as we age which allows this scenario to happen more often. In response to the intruders the brain reacts by producing a set of proteins call beta amyloid to cage them in. This leads to plaques in the brain which are markers of Alzheimer's disease.
So far researchers have infected brains cells in petri dishes and found beta amyloid produced in response. The findings have been reproduced in yeast, roundworms, fruit flies, and mice. According to the study author "each plaque had a single bacterium at its center." Mice that didn't react to infection by producing plaques were at greater risk for dying from infection.
It is worth noting that the research regarding the connection between infection and Alzheimer's disease is preliminary and needs further study. As with everything in medicine it could be years before we get more definitive answers.
You may have heard of athletes who use stem cell therapy to help heal their joints. While this type of treatment used to be considered pretty novel and experimental there is a growing evidence base that it can be very useful for many conditions.
That is why I am excited to announce that I will begin to offer platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections for patients at my practice.
PRP injections involve using a patient's own blood to harvest platelets and stem cells. This means that the injection is relatively safe and free from side effects. The only major risk factor being the risk of infection from the injection.
Platelets and the accompanying growth factors/stem cells can potentially heal damaged tissue. Stem cells are the primitive precursors to your cells and when they are injected in an area they can potentially turn into the new tissue that is trying to be repaired.
There are many conditions for which this therapy may be beneficial. This includes:
While PRP may be helpful for many conditions it is not a one-shot magic bullet. I believe that it should be incorporated with an overall change in lifestyle that includes changes in diet and activity level. This means eating real food and lowering net carbs as much as possible. The lifestyle changes should also include reducing stress and anxiety.
PRP is also not an instant solution. It will typically take 6-8 weeks or longer to see significant tissue regeneration and repair from PRP therapy.
The process of getting PRP injections is pretty simple. The patient arrives at the clinic and has blood drawn. The blood is then separated into components by a special centrifuge and the platelets, growth factors, and stem cells are removed. These are then injected back into the patient wherever it is needed.
As we are now doing this procedure at Murdock Health feel free to send an email or call if you have any questions or would like a free in-person consultation.
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