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Simple Way to Add Potassium to your Diet

We tend to eat way too much sodium…and not nearly enough potassium.  This can, and often does, lead to water retention and/or hypertension (aka high blood pressure).

No Salt

It seems that it’s not just the amounts of each of these electrolytes that’s important, but the ratio of potassium:sodium that we ingest is as, if not more important.

I’m always a proponent of trying to get your nutrients from natural food when possible.  So to boost your potassium intake you should definitely focus on consuming potassium-rich foods like chicken breast, potatoes, cantaloupe, kiwi, etc.

But even still, it can sometimes be tough to consume enough of these foods to get your potassium:sodium ratio to at least 2:1.  That’s where a supplement, of sorts, can come in handy….enter No Salt.

Flavor your Food, Boost your Potassium Intake

A simple way to supplement your diet with potassium (without choking down tons of pills) is to add some No Salt to some meals.  If you use too much it can have a bit of an aftertaste, but if you don’t put too much, it’ll taste fine (or you won’t even notice it).

Instead of having regular sodium chloride (aka table salt), No Salt uses potassium chloride.  Although it doesn’t taste as good as table salt, it does give you some additional potassium.  Just 1/4 teaspoon has 650 mg of potassium.  That’s about 50% more than a banana!

Don’t Get Carried Away…Check with Your Doc

Although most people would arguably be ‘healthier’ by adding even a couple thousand milligrams of potassium to their diet, in some extreme cases that could be lethal…seriously.

Let’s say a good approximate target intake would be ~ 4,000 to 5,000 mg potassium per day and ~ 2,000 to 2,500 mg sodium per day, for some this could be dangerously high in terms of potassium.

For example, people on potassium-sparing diuretics may end up with too much potassium relative to their sodium status (because the diuretic ‘kicks the sodium out’ so-to-speak).

Long story short, if you’re gonna add more than ~ 1/4 tsp of No Salt to your meals per day, or if you have kidney problems, diabetes, hyperkalemia, dehydration, take diuretics, etc., you should consult with your doctor first.  Seriously, if you take meds or have a medical condition at all…or just when in doubt…talk with your doctor to make sure it’s safe for you to bump up your potassium intake and/or reduce your sodium intake (especially if you’re gonna reduce it to less than ~ 1,500 mg per day).

One More Idea

Perhaps try implementing No Salt like I do…when I’d typically flavor a food with table salt (NaCl), I’ll use about half No Salt and half regular salt.  I can’t even tell the difference, but at least I’m taking a step in the right direction in terms of normalizing my sodium and potassium intake.

Your friend in fitness,

Dr Clay

PS  Of course any type of sodium-free, potassium-chloride-based salt will work. I just refer to No Salt as it seems to be the most readily available brand.

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Soda May Shorten Life Span via DNA Damage – New Study

We already knew soda wasn’t good for us, but we didn’t have evidence of it accelerating DNA damage…until now.sodas

A new study by researchers at UCSF (University of California San Francisco) found that people who drink at least 20 oz of sugary soda per day have DNA damage comparable to cigarette smoking.  In fact, based on their DNA, they appear to be about 4 1/2 years older than they really are.

Sugar May Shorten Your Telomeres…which is NOT Good!

Telomeres are essentially a type of protective DNA.  Past research has found that telomeres shorten as we age and in the presence of diseases like diabetes, heart disease, etc.  In other words, you want long telomeres, NOT short ones!

Well, if it’s long telomeres (and long life) you want, then you evidently shouldn’t drink much soda!

Subjects in this study who reported drinking at least 20 oz of sugary soda per day had shorter telomeres than their non-soda-drinking counterparts.  Researchers didn’t find the same with diet soda drinkers.  So it’s apparently the sugar that’s the DNA-damaging culprit.

Here’s what lead researcher, Elissa Epel, had to say:

“Regular consumption of sugar-sweetened sodas might influence disease development, not only by straining the body’s metabolic control of sugars, but also through accelerated cellular aging of tissues.”

What You Should Know….and Do

My recommendation is to avoid drinking your calories.  In other words, only drink beverages that have no calories – water, green tea, and coffee, for example, like I wrote about in Set Your Metabolism on Fire.  (Liquid meals like protein shakes or beverages you’ve ‘juiced’ don’t count in my don’t-drink-your-calories rule, btw.)

If you don’t drink soda, don’t think for a minute that it’s ok to drink other sugary beverages.  I’m quite certain the deleterious effects of any sugar-laden drink would be pretty much the same.

Make sure to read the nutrition value and the ingredients on anything you drink…it’ll do your DNA good.  :)

Your friend in fitness,

Dr Clay

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My Advice…Get OUTSIDE!

If there’s one piece of advice I’d practically beg you to take, it’s to GET OUTSIDE!IMG_4876

I used to think it was just me and a few others who really enjoy – and benefit from – getting outside.  But as I’ve talked to more and more people over the years, I’ve found that tons of people swear by the benefits of the great outdoors.

One common theme that comes up is how people find nature ‘spiritual.’  Many say getting outdoors is their preferred method of ‘church’ or getting in touch with the Creator.  I couldn’t agree more.

I’ve never taken anti-depressant medication, but I can tell you firsthand just how uplifting getting outside can be.  For me, it’s much like hitting a reset button…making the stress of life seem more tolerable.

You can kick this get outdoors thing up a notch by exercising outdoors.  My two favorite modes of outdoor exercise are simply walking and bike riding.  They may not burn a ton of calories, but they do burn some…and the benefits go far beyond that, I assure you.

Make it Green

To get the most out of getting outside, I think you should try to get in as natural a setting as possible.

Sure, walking on a sidewalk outside in the city is great, but I suspect you’d get even more out of it if you we out in a more ‘green’ area like a hiking trail or the beach.  In my experience, the more removed you are from man-made ‘stuff,’ the more you’ll benefit.

Tangible Benefits

Here are some of the benefits you’re likely to reap by getting outside.

  • better mood
  • improved ability to ‘live in the moment’
  • reduced stress
  • better sleep
  • better health (via reduced stress and higher vit D levels)
  • improved fitness

My intention was to simply share with you my advice and experience regarding the benefits of getting outside.  However, I couldn’t resist a quick google search of “benefits of getting outside.”  The first result was from Harvard University…pretty cool.

At a later date I’ll write a more scientific piece about the benefits.  Meanwhile, do yourself a favor and go for a walk or ride outside in nature.  I know you’ll be glad you did!

Speaking of getting outside…I’m closing up my laptop now to do just that.  It’s time beach time for me!

Your friend in fitness,

Clay

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New Study: Grapefruit Juice Reduces Weight Gain, Blood Sugar & Insulin

According to a new study, drinking grapefruit juice appears to help lower fasting blood glucose and insulin levels, both of which tend to be good things.grapefruit juice

The same study also showed that when subjects (mice in this case), drank grapefruit juice, they didn’t gain as much weight as the control group.

On one hand, this is cool stuff.  On the other hand, all of this occurred while the mice were on a high-fat diet designed to make them gain weight.  So it’s not necessarily that grapefruit juice will help you lose weight, but it may help you get fat more slowly – ha, but true.

And let’s also keep this study in perspective in that the subject were mice, and the study was financially supported by The California Grapefruit Growers Cooperative.  I’m not saying that affected the outcome, but it’s something to keep in mind.

Common Sense Look at What this Study Should Tell Us

Please don’t think grapefruit is the missing link to your fat loss woes….I assure you it’s not.

But this study does shine some light on how there are evidently some compounds (aka neutraceuticals) in grapefruit juice that have anti-glycemic (blood glucose lowering) effects.  To quote the authors – “…the fact remains that GFJ (grapefruit juice) contains a compound or compounds other than naringin with health-promoting properties.”  (FYI, naringin is a bioflavonoid found in grapefruit.)

In general, we should eat more foods made by God/Mother Nature and less foods made by man.  This study, yet again, illustrates this fact.

Your friend in fitness,

Dr Clay

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Treating Hypertension (high blood pressure) through Diet and Exercise

Question:

I know you are not a cardiologist, but I respect your experience and your opinion on health related topics.

Can you recommend any books/publications on treating hypertension through diet & exercise?

Thanks again,

Kyle

Answer:

I would love to see a good book on treating hypertension (HTN) via diet & exercise!  However, I don’t know that one single book fits the bill.  If it’s out there, I haven’t seen it.

I’d actually love to write that book, and it’s actually in my pipeline of things to get around to in the not-so-distant future.  Meanwhile… [Read more...]