Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Why You Should Take Nutrition Information with a Grain of Salt



Today starring me in the face, I remembered why I often tell people to listen to the message but then take decide if it applies to you. If you don’t know, ask your dietitian or physician. But, always keep in mind that there isn’t a one-size-fits all approach to nutrition. What you hear in the media may have nothing to do with you. An above average BMI may mean little to nothing as long as you are otherwise healthy and active. And just because your co-worker thinks she needs to lose 5 lbs, that doesn’t mean you should jump on that bandwagon.

So my personal wake up call of the day was about sodium. I agree with CDC’s take that many people consume too much sodium and hypertension (high blood pressure) is prevalent. I discuss this message in the media, advocate that most sedentary people watch their sodium intake yet carefully monitor how much sodium my athletes get to ensure they don’t cramp or worse yet, end up with dangerously low blood sodium. However, somewhere in this mix of people to look after and messages to convey, I forgot the very thing that has helped me for years - regularly salting my food. You see, I’m on the opposite end of the spectrum compared to the majority of Americans. My blood pressure is very low. Normally my body warns me, I get dizzy or end up with postural hypotension (get dizzy and my vision blurry when standing up too quickly). But today an ordinary blood pressure cuff and a nurse with a puzzled look on her face made me realize I had slacked on the advice a doctor gave me years ago: “salt your food!” This just goes to show you how subconsciously, messages seep in and we think “yes, I need to take vitamin C daily” or “everyone else is taking fish oil, I’ll take some and see what it does.” And, that my friends, is like playing a game of Nutrition Scrabble. Taking a ton of advice, mixing it up and seeing if you can spell out a health prescription.

As your own health advocate, read, ask and listen but consider what is good for your own body, not your neighbors, the general public or your coworker’s body. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition or health. And sometimes, you have to ignore what the people around you say and do what’s best for you. And, be diligent about it…..even if it goes against popular opinion.

And, here I go, back to the odd looks people give me and comments like “that stuff’s gonna kill ya, you should know better” when they see a dietitian salting her food.

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