Combat-Aging.com Newsletter Volume 1, Number 3
December 15, 2005
From my Diary
- Aerobics and fat loss: During the last two weeks ending Sunday, I used a break from weight-lifting as an opportunity to lose some more fat around the middle and promised to report progress on fat loss.
- Progress: For short periods, weight loss can be used as a proxy for fat loss, so I weighed myself every day. After 16 days, I had lost two pounds (0.9 kg). At the end of the first week, I found that I was losing weight too fast, so I skipped workouts on Sunday. Also, on Sunday I allowed myself a few liberties, snacking on nuts and dried fruit. However, the second week I got a big surprise.
- My Surprise: On Thursday of the second week, I squatted to get a book from the bottom shelf and when I got up almost fainted. Didn't feel right for a couple of days, so I took both Saturday and Sunday off, no workouts and and more liberty to snack on nuts and dried fruit.
- What Went Wrong: By Monday, I had figured out what went wrong. I had increased my physical activity by 50% and also my water intake, but did not increase the amount of salt intake. Result? Extra salt loss from sweat. Without the salt, I excreted water, causing blood volume to decrease and blood pressure to drop. By Saturday morning, BP was only 105 over 60. That's why I stayed home on Saturday and Sunday, added more salt to my food and increased calories. By Sunday, I was back to 112/62 and by Monday morning, to 120/65, almost back to my normal 120/70. Low salt is a hazard who sweat a lot and drink a lot more water when they exercise. Even then, people with average salt intake may not be at risk. The risk is greater for people who don't eat packaged or fast food and don't use salt in cooking.
Because I cook almost everything I eat using unprocessed ingredients and no salt, I get only about 500 mg/day (1/4 teaspoon) most of which I add while eating. However, for the level of exercise I was doing the last two weeks, I should have increased salt intake. My problem was: hyponatremia, low sodium. The sodium deficit took 10 days to develop. Getting sodium back to normal will probably take a week. In the future, I will make sure I get extra salt when doing extra exercise.
Tips of the Week
- Limit Sodium Intake
Avoid salt in packaged and fast food. Excessive sodium intake risks not only high blood pressure, but also osteoporosis.
Americans average 5,000 mg of sodium per day, equivalent to 10,000 mg of salt per day. About 80% of this salt comes in junk and packaged food. Even seemingly good food can be hazardous. A one pound can of Heinz baked beans contains almost 2,000 mg. Sodium is in everything, savory or sweet: breakfast cereal, soft drinks, yoghurt, cheese, bread. You name it, if it comes in a package or can with a fancy label, it's probably loaded with salt. Sodium is good for business: salt is cheap, weighs more than food, and makes people thirsty. That's good news if you own a lot of shares in food industries.
As a consumer, this is bad news for you: salt is a killer, right up there with smoking. The RDA minimum is 500 mg/day (1/4 teaspoon); the maximum is 2,400 mg/day, about one heaping teaspoon. However, this maximum may be excessive, since heart patients are told to limit salt to 1500 mg/day and British consumers are told to limit their salt intake to 1600 mg/day, half a teaspoon. Moral: Read labels before buying packaged food. If salt appears near the beginning of the list, the amount is probably excessive. Don't add salt while cooking: taste the food first. If it needs salt, add just enough and no more. After a month of mild salt restriction you will find that you have kicked the habit.
- Monitor Your Magnesium Intake: Both calcium and magnesium are necessary for bone health. The need for calcium is well known, but the need for magnesium is less well known. Dr. Kathryn M. Ryder, of the University of Tennessee, Memphis, and colleagues studied magnesium intake from supplemental and dietary sources in relation to bone mass density (BMD) in 2038 subjects between the ages of 70 and 79 years. They found that fewer than 26 percent met the RDA for magnesium. Among the people studied there was a two percent increase in bone mass density for every 100 milligram per day increase in magnesium. The researchers concluded that, "Higher magnesium intake through dietary change or supplementation may provide an additional strategy for the prevention of osteoporosis," Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, November 2005.
My Comment: The sooner we start implementing strategies for protecting against bone loss, the denser our bones will be when we reach advanced age. Women are usually aware of the risk of osteoporosis after menopause, but few men are aware they are at risk too. While hip fractures are not as common in elderly men as in elderly women, the difference is less than what many believe. "One in two women and one in four men over age 50 will have an osteoporosis-related fracture in her/his remaining lifetime." Osteoporosis: Fast Facts.
- To Control Afternoon Snacking Chew Gum: Psychologist Marion Hetherington and her colleagues in Liverpool, England, found that chewing low-calorie gum cut snacking by about 36 calories compared with not chewing gum. While that doesn't sound like much, it adds up to 1,000 calories a month, one pound of body fat in three months. Do have a few high-calorie treats during the festive season, but consider chewing low-calorie gum when you know it's time to restrain the urge to eat more.
Source: Sally Squires, Lean Plate Club.
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