While we all probably realize that cutting down on excess salt is a good idea, it may be a little further down on our health “to do” list than it should be.
One health expert recently described the common attitude toward reducing sodium in The Wall Street Journal article “Where Salt is Lurking on Restaurant Menus”:
“The consequence of too many calories is more conspicuous. The sodium issue is quite invisible until they have a stroke,” says Dr. Walter Willett, chairman of the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health.
Excess sodium’s severe effects on bone health may also seem invisible…even though we know it contributes to osteoporosis and excessive bone loss.
Why not take the first step to reduce sodium? When looking for a place to start, keep in mind that, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than 40% of sodium comes from the following 10 types of foods: breads and rolls, cold cuts and cured meats such as deli or packaged ham or turkey, pizza, fresh and processed poultry, soups, sandwiches such as cheeseburgers, cheese, pasta dishes, mixed meat dishes such as meat loaf with tomato sauce, and snacks such as chips, pretzels, and popcorn.
Potassium: the hidden bone guardian
Along with sodium levels, it’s also important to consider your intake of potassium, which I called the hidden bone guardian! Sodium and potassium work together to maintain the critical fluid balance within the body. Potassium also works to neutralize bone-depleting metabolic acids.
To get the recommended level of 4,700 mg a day of potassium, try to include 13 half-cup servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Some good sources include asparagus, raw bamboo shoots, avocados, baked potatoes with the skin, and cantaloupe. See my list of potassium rich foods for other wholesome options.
Remember, diet is one of the key factors you can control when it comes to your bone health. In fact, what you eat — and choose not to — is so important that I’ve included an entire section on nutrition on my website. My Personal Program for Better Bones also includes a 30-day meal plan complete with easy-to-prepare recipes.
Dizik, A. 2013. Where salt is lurking on restaurant menus. The Wall Street Journal. URL: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323277504578193442345026364.html (accessed 02.18.13)
Cogswell, M.E., Am J Clin Nutr. 2012 Sep;96(3):647-57. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.112.034413. Epub 2012 Aug 1. URL: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22854410 (accessed 01.10.2013)
CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). 2012. Vital Signs. URL: http://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/sodium/ (accessed 01.10.2013). Atlanta, Georgia.
You can try Dr. Brown’s comprehensive supplements in her at-home bone health program, developed with Women to Women. Get her exclusive formulations along with her detailed lifestyle and diet guidance, plus telephone support whenever you need it. Learn more about the Personal Program for Better Bones.
We created the Better Bones blog as our forum to express opinions and educate the public about natural means of supporting and improving bone health and overall wellness. As part of this forum, we sometimes discuss medical issues and medications, and their effects on bone health in general. However, we cannot advise readers about specific medical issues in this forum. If you wish to obtain advice from Susan E. Brown, PhD, about your specific bone health and nutritional concerns, please visit our Consultations page. Other specific medical questions should be referred to your healthcare provider.