How Food Can Manage or Prevent Chronic Illness
Do you have a food budget? Does it include your medications? We have heard healthy eating is too expensive, but when you take into consideration how nutrition could prevent you from needing medications or going to endless chronic illness doctors, all of a sudden it isn’t so costly.
The nutritional makeup of fruits and vegetables, in particular potassium, has been significantly linked to lowering blood pressure, which affects one billion people worldwide. Potassium and sodium are electrolytes that simultaneously work to promote proper fluid balance. Potassium’s claim to fame is contracting the heart. Sodium helps control muscle contractions. Yet, the Western diet is plagued with excess sodium and that by reducing the amount of sodium in our diet, we can reduce our risk for hypertension- or so we thought.
A recent article from the American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology found that increasing the dietary potassium is just as important, if not more so, than simply reducing the sodium in our diet. The Framingham Offspring Study would also agree. The 2,600 participants in this study followed a less than 2,500 milligrams of sodium per day diet, yet did not see long term positive effect on blood pressure. Interestingly enough, those that had a higher intake of potassium of approximately 3,211 milligrams and 3,717 milligrams of sodium combined, had lower blood pressure over time.
Scratching your head over what are the current nutritional recommendations for these nutrients? One teaspoon, or 2,300 milligrams per day is recommended for sodium while dietary potassium is 4,700 milligrams or more commonly seen as 4.7 grams. So, what does that look like? You do not need to go looking for sodium-laden foods, as the majority of all food products that we eat already contain sodium, whether naturally or added. As for potassium, this can easily be achieved by enjoying a 3 cup spinach salad with 3 ounces of salmon, ½ cup dried apricots, 1 cup of both diced avocado and mushrooms with a banana on the side.
June is National Fruit and Vegetable Month. By now, farmer’s markets are thriving and an abundance of produce options inundate grocery stores as if you needed another reason to eat more color. Whether or not you reach your ten servings per day, think of increasing the amount of produce you eat the next time you want to cut back on your food budget as food can truly be medicine.
Published June 1, 2017