Smorgasbord Health – Nutrition in the news – Salt – we may have been getting it all wrong!

Smorgasbord Health 2017I have been a nutritional therapist for nearly 20 years, and one of the essential elements of my work has been to remain informed of new research as it becomes available. This has sometimes turned previously held beliefs on their head, and these latest findings from Dr. James DiNicolantonio certainly qualifies as that.

I have always watched my salt intake as high blood pressure has been a family health concern. I have also been obese for a great many years of my life and certainly have always struggled to maintain a healthy weight. I do not take any medication of any kind and I have worked to keep my blood pressure at normal levels.

However, if this new research is to be believed, I may well have been going about this the wrong way by reducing my salt levels too far.  I have read several articles written by Dr. DiNicolatonio and I am sharing excerpts from two that I suggest you read and consider.

I am not suggesting that you suddenly dive into the salt pot and certainly not to stop taking any medication. I am however excited to discover more about this line of research and will be looking into it in more detail when the book is published.

Top scientist says all you’ve been told about salt is WRONG: It won’t give you a heart attack – while having too little will make you fat and ruin your sex life

For more than 40 years, we’ve been told eating too much salt is killing us. Doctors say it’s as bad for our health as smoking or not exercising, and government guidelines limit us to just under a teaspoon a day.

We’re told not to cook with it and not to sprinkle it on our meals. The white stuff is not just addictive, goes the message — it’s deadly. Too much of it causes high blood pressure, which in turn damages our hearts. We must learn to live — joylessly, flavourlessly but healthily — without it.

Well, I’m here to tell you that all of that is wrong. As a leading cardiovascular research scientist — based at Saint Luke’s Mid-America Heart Institute, Missouri — I’ve contributed extensively to health policy and medical literature.

I am associate editor of the British Medical Journal’s Open Heart, published in partnership with the British Cardiovascular Society, and I sit on the editorial advisory board of several other medical journals.
In my work, I’ve examined data from more than 500 medical papers and studies about salt. And this is what I’ve learned: there was never any sound scientific evidence to support this low salt idea. What’s more, as I explain in my new book, eating too little of it can cause insulin resistance, increased fat storage and may even increase the risk of diabetes — not to mention decreasing our sex drive.

Current daily guidelines limit you to 2.4g of sodium, which translates to 6g of salt (or sodium chloride) or slightly less than a teaspoonful.

If you have high blood pressure, or belong to a group considered to be at greater risk of developing it — such as being over 60 or Afro-Caribbean — doctors even advise you to cut your intake to two-thirds of a teaspoon of salt per day.

Yet salt is an essential nutrient that our bodies depend on to live. And those limits go against all our natural instincts. When people are allowed as much salt as they fancy, they tend to settle at about a teaspoon-and-a-half a day. This is true all over the world, across all cultures, climates and social backgrounds.

Read the rest of the article:

The Mineral Deficiency That’s Making You Gain Weight by Dr James DiNicolantonio

“Salted foodstuffs make people slim, whereas sweet ones make them fat.” —Pliny (A.D. 23 to A.D. 79), an ancient Roman author and philosopher

We’ve been told for decades to hold the salt at the dinner table for the sake of our hearts and blood pressure. The anti-salt campaign has blurred the picture about what salt actually does for us—besides making everything taste better. Salt is an essential mineral that has many vital functions in the body, which I go into more in my new book, The Salt Fix. Since we lose salt every day through sweat and urine, we need to consume some salt in order to live.

What happens when we aren’t getting the salt we need?

When our bodies become depleted in salt, the brain seems to react by sensitizing the reward system—and not just the reward system for salt, but the same reward system that drives us to other pleasurable activities. The purpose of that sensitization is that when we eat salt it induces a greater reward than usual, leading to an increase intake of salt. This primitive “reptilian” response in the brain is over 100 million years old and it has carried over from our ancient ancestors. Its goal is to keep us alive by preventing or quickly fixing a salt deficit in the body. In other words, the brain controls our salt fix.
In our modern world, though, this reward system, intended to save our lives after salt deficit, could be inadvertently leading to weight gain, and even obesity.

Read the rest of this revolutionary post on the subject of salt in our diet:

The Salt Fix by Dr James DiNicolantonio, to be published by Piatkus Books on June 6 at £13.99.

Dr. James DiNicolantonio, PharmD, is the author of The Salt Fix, and a cardiovascular research scientist and doctor of pharmacy at Saint Luke’s Mid-America Heart Institute in Kansas City, Missouri. A well-respected and internationally known scientist and expert on health and nutrition, he has contributed extensively to health policy and medical literature. He serves as the associate editor of British Medical Journal’s Open Heart, a journal published in partnership with the British Cardiovascular Society. He is also on the editorial advisory board of several other medical journals, including Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases and International Journal of Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology (IJCPT). For more information on Dr. DiNicolantonio, please visit

Available for pre-order:

And another reason to ‘Cook from Scratch’ based on a Russian study.

Do you believe high amounts of salt provoke thirst and contribute to high blood pressure and heart disease? If so, you’re likely wrong. Studies have consistently failed to support either of these notions, showing the converse is actually true. Here’s a summary of findings that may surprise you:

• Eating large amounts of salt will not make you thirsty or cause greater urine output (which could lead to dehydration). A study1 involving Russian cosmonauts reveal eating more salt actually lowered their thirst — yet increased hunger.2,3 Recent animal research4 support these results, showing a high-salt diet resulted in increased metabolism, forcing the animals to eat 25 percent more calories just to maintain weight. This suggests salt may have a surprising influence on your weight

• Evidence shows having the correct potassium to sodium balance influences your risk for high blood pressure and heart disease to a far greater extent than high sodium alone, and processed foods are typically low in potassium and high in sodium

• Studies suggest a low-salt diet can actually worsen cardiovascular disease and raise rather than lower the risk for early death among patients at high risk of heart disease5

• The vast majority, approximately 71 percent, of your salt intake comes from processed food.6 Hence, if you avoid processed foods, you have virtually no risk of consuming too much salt.7 Eating a whole food diet will also ensure a more appropriate sodium-to-potassium ratio

• When lowering salt in processed foods, many manufacturers started adding monosodium glutamate (MSG) instead — a flavor enhancer associated with obesity, headaches, eye damage,8 fatigue and depression. Due to its ability to overexcite neurons, MSG may even raise your risk for neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Lou Gehrig’s disease

Read the rest of the article here:

About Dr. Joseph Mercola

Dr. Joseph Mercola is a New York Times bestselling author with a shelf of books on health.

My motivation, whether you are a member of the community or have just heard about me for the first time, is to make you as healthy as you can possibly be. This involves:

Providing the most up-to-date natural health information and resources that will most benefit you and,

Exposing corporate, government, and mass media hype that diverts you away from what is truly best for your health and often to a path that leads straight into an early grave. is not, in other words, a tool to get me a bigger house and car, or to run for Senate. I fund this site, and therefore, am not handcuffed to any advertisers, silent partners, or corporate parents.

Read the rest of Dr. Mercola’s impressive C.V. here:

A reminder again that this is not a recommendation that you stop taking medication and suddenly start eating high levels of salt. But, as always I do recommend that you stay away from industrially produced foods and add salt to your food as you prepare and then eat.

Whilst you may spend a little more time in the kitchen preparing fresh ingredients think of it in terms of adding years to your lifespan!


Smorgasbord Health 2017 – Top to Toe – The Blood – Oxygen distribution, waste disposal andAnaemia

Smorgasbord Health 2017

I have covered in earlier posts the absolute necessity of oxygen to our survival. It is unlikely that you will survive longer than six minutes without breathing in oxygen, but it is also vitally important for the survival of every cell within the body. If an area of the cardiovascular system is damaged and oxygen is unable to reach the tissues directly affected then that tissue will die and the infection generated will compromise the health of the rest of the body. The most vulnerable parts of the body are the hands and feet where irreparable damage to the tiny network of capillaries could lead to amputation.

The oxygen carriers.

The red blood cells are responsible for the transportation of both oxygen and carbon dioxide within the haemoglobin in the blood.

red blood cells

As important as breathing in and utilising oxygen is concerned, getting rid of the carbon dioxide waste, which is produced during this process, is equally important. Some carbon dioxide produced in the tissues is processed and converted to a harmless substance that can be eliminated easily but some has to be transported via the blood stream back to the lungs to be got rid of.

Other transportation duties

Substances in the bloodstream like cholesterol and other fats are transported around the body, from originating organs like the liver, to elimination points where they are removed from the blood and either absorbed into cells or processing points such as the kidneys. This process is used to transport glucose and sugars, hormones and waste products like urea that becomes urine.

We are an extremely efficient waste producer and it is when this waste is not eliminated safely, and regularly, from the body that we become ill and diseased.

There are a number of blood disorders that cause concern and one of the most common is Anaemia so I am going to focus on that today – with the foods and therefore the nutrients we require to support healthy blood over the next couple of blogs.


There are actually several types of Anaemia but whilst there are a number of reasons as you will see for the blood disorder, I will focus on just two. Iron deficiency Anaemia and Pernicious Anaemia sometimes also known as Megaloblastic Anaemia. This anaemia is a Vitamin Deficiency anaemia and whilst requires medical supplementation of Vitamin B12 can still be supported by a healthy diet.

Iron deficiency Anaemia is one of the most common types and is usually associated with women. Mostly in pregnancy, but it can also affect women who have suffered heavy periods throughout their reproductive lives. As the name implies, it is caused by the lack of iron.

This might be because you have not taken in sufficient iron through your diet but it is also a vicious circle. The more blood you lose the more red blood cells you lose. These red blood cells release the iron when they die, and it is absorbed back into the system. If you sustain a lot of blood loss each month you will have increasingly less red blood cells which will lead to an iron deficiency over time.

Pregnant women lose their store of iron to the foetus, which is why many are put on an iron supplement although they can take in sufficient with an appropriate diet.

There are also other causes of blood loss, such as surgery or internal bleeding, but there are some diseases such as chronic bowel problems that induce a slow loss of blood over a long period of time and this can lead to Anaemia. If this is the case then you need to ensure that you visit your GP and ask for a blood test and do not take no for an answer. Chronic tiredness which is a symptom of Anaemia always needs to be investigated.

Earlier in my blogs I wrote about Candida Albicans, a parasite that robs nutrients from your food for its own use. This means iron too. As a result, part of the chronic fatigue associated with Candida can be linked to mild forms of anaemia. Posts on Candida can be found in the Health Directory:

Iron Deficiency Anaemia

Of the two anaemias this one is wholly preventable and treatable with changes in diet and in some cases, supplementation.

The key to the diet is not just taking in iron in extra quantities and in fact it is not a good idea to suddenly rush off and grab yourself a bottle of iron tablets and start taking a handful as this can lead to chronic constipation. It is far better to start with adjusting your diet to include foods that are a good source of the mineral. If you need additional supplementation then you should follow the advice of a professional practitioner.

What is pernicious anaemia?

Pernicious Anaemia is actually a vitamin deficiency rather than an iron deficiency. As well as iron, your body needs B6, B12 and folic acid, or folate, to produce enough healthy red blood cells. If your diet is lacking in these, then you will have fewer red blood cells, and therefore less iron, and be anaemic.

Who is the most likely to suffer from this type of anaemia?

Both men and women suffer from this type of anaemia. In rare cases it can be genetic or congenital when someone is born with the inability to absorb Vitamin B12 from their diet. In this case although a healthy diet will support the sufferer they have to be treated with injections of B12 or large doses orally for the rest of their lives.

Nutrition and blood diseases.

Diet plays an enormous part in the prevention and treatment of blood diseases. Today’s diet of processed foods, additives, chemicals and fad weight-loss plans are all contributing to the inability of our body to process the necessary and vital nutrients efficiently. I have worked with many people who decide that they are going to become vegetarian and have done so without finding appropriate substitutes for animal products that previously provided nutrients such as iron and the B vitamins. If you wish to become vegetarian then make sure that you are getting sufficient wholegrains, fermented soy products like miso or Tempeh and plenty of fresh fruit and green vegetables. There is plenty of advice online on how to change your diet safely so please take advantage of that.

In some anaemic patients it is the result of a disease or condition that prevents absorption of nutrients in general – such as Candida – Crohns disease or if someone is celiac. Anything that affects the small intestine will cause mal-absorption of nutrients and result in possible anaemia

Also, long-term medication, use of the pill, HRT and chemotherapy can have an effect on the way we absorb iron, B6, B12 and Folate. As I mentioned earlier, any blood-loss means that the iron that is normally recycled when cells die off naturally is not available. It is important that anyone who has been through an intensive a treatment for a disease such as cancer receives nutritional support afterwards to ensure that their diet is absolutely optimum for regaining healthy red blood cells.

What symptoms would someone experience if they were anaemic?

People will vary with the symptoms depending on the severity of the problem.

  •  Generally people will begin to feel very tired. As we have said the body is being deprived of one of its main energy sources – oxygen.
  •  Some may experience rapid heartbeats – perhaps find themselves getting breathless when they have not really over exerted themselves.
  • There might be some chest pain associated with the symptoms – headaches or dizziness.
  • Hands and feet can become numb and very cold.
  • Nausea, causing loss of appetite and weight loss.
  • Bleeding gums and a yellowish tinge to the skin and around the eyes.

What should you do if you feel that you might be anaemic?

If anyone is suffering from any of the symptoms above and is worried they should go and see their doctor and ask them to do a blood test. It would certainly either put their mind at rest or establish that there is a problem which can be easily treated – if necessary with a short term course of iron supplements or, if the problem is more serious, with injections. For dietary based anaemia or where it is only a temporary problem with absorption of B12 – diet and supplementation might be appropriate.

If the problem is a long term issue, as with pernicious anaemia, then the treatment usually consists of injections – daily to begin with, for a week or so, until the condition as stabilised and then as required, which might be monthly or three-monthly. If B12 is given orally it requires much higher dosages to ensure absorption but there is currently experimentation with sublingual supplementation.

Both these types of anaemia can be supported with a healthy diet and next time a look at the nutrients that are needed to support the health of the red blood cells and the foods you need to obtain them.

You can find all the Top to Toe posts in this directory.

Thank you for dropping by ..Sally



Smorgasbord Health 2017 – Top to Toe – Cardiovascular system and the components of Blood

Smorgasbord Health 2017

Blood is an incredibly complex fluid that uses the network of blood vessels to take the essential supplies such as oxygen and nutrients around the body that we need every day.

Blood is one of the constituents of our bodies that we tend to take for granted. Unless we suffer a catastrophic accident, resulting in major injuries most of us just need a plaster from time to time to patch ourselves up. However, blood is alive with an amazing group of components, completing several vital roles every second of every day, to ensure that we survive.

If our blood is not healthy we can suffer from anaemia, inefficient immune systems, slow healing and frequent infections. Long term blood disorders lead to much more serious illnesses such as cancer and organ failure.

Without a microscope we are unable to see the enormity of the life that is contained in just one small drop of blood. Once you understand some of the properties and duties of your blood and appreciate how vital it is to maintain its integrity, it will be easy to make sure that you include foods in your diet that promote its health and therefore your own.

The Cardiovascular System

Our cardiovascular system’s function is to pump blood around the body. If this process stops for more than a few seconds we will lose consciousness. Every part of our body requires oxygen and nutrients on demand, including additional supplies when we are under pressure. Our cardiovascular system deals with this process without any thought or involvement from us and in addition it will remove any waste products from our systems at the same time. A healthy cardiovascular system is essential and the quality of our blood is vital to our survival.

The circulatory system is made up of arteries, veins and capillaries. The arteries carry the oxygenated blood from the lungs into smaller arterioles, which connect to the veins via capillaries. Unlike the muscle-walled arteries, veins have thin, flexible walls that can expand to hold large volumes of blood. De-oxygenated blood returning to the heart in the veins is at a lower pressure than in the arteries and movement is assisted by a succession of one-way valves that prevent blood from flowing backwards.

The links between the arteries and the veins are the capillaries, which are tiny blood vessels with permeable walls, which allow the exchange of nutrients, oxygen and waste between blood and tissue cells.

Blood is a liquid tissue and your body contains around 8 to 12 pints depending on your age and if you are male or female. Without blood you would die. It performs a number of crucial functions within the body, including the transportation of oxygen and carbon dioxide, food molecules (glucose, fats and amino acids), ions, waste (such as urea), hormones and heat around the body. One of its major functions is the defence of the body against infections and other ingested toxins.

The components of Blood

Within blood is plasma, which is the pale yellow liquid that can easily be replaced by your body when it needs to. It is mainly water and proteins which assist your body in controlling bleeding and fighting infection. It is essential for the circulation of our red and white blood cells and platelets and also ensures that our natural, chemical communication system is operational. This communication system reaches every part of the body via the capillaries and is fuelled by minerals, vitamins, hormones and antibodies.

What are the different blood cell types?

White blood cells are called leukocytes and there are five types carrying out specific roles within the blood. Neutrophils, Eosinophils, Lymphocytes, Monocytes and Basophils.

Neutrophils are the most abundant of the white blood cells and are the first line of defence. They squeeze through the capillaries to infected areas in the body and consume and destroy invading bacteria and viruses. Even when we are healthy this process is essential as we are constantly ingesting, absorbing or inhaling harmful substances in our everyday environment. If our blood is healthy and well-populated with neutrophils we can prevent these invasions leading to illness and disease.


Eosinophils are not very abundant in the blood but they are on stand-by and can increase their numbers dramatically if the body comes under attack from certain types of parasites. The cell will rush to the infected area such as the intestines and release a toxic substance over the parasite to destroy it.


Red blood cells, or erythrocytes, are the most numerous type of blood cell. They are shaped specifically to ensure that they absorb as much oxygen from the lungs as possible. In just one minute 120 million of your red blood cells will die but in the same time frame exactly the same amount will be replaced from the bone marrow. The process actually starts in the kidneys, which release a hormone called erythropoietin, which travels to the bone marrow where it stimulates the production of erythrocytes. This is another reason why it is so vital to maintain the function of your kidneys with a natural, cook from scratch approach to your diet.

Other Cells in the blood.

  • B-Lymphocytes (B Cells)are responsible for making our antibodies in response to an infection.
  • T-Lymphocytes (T-Cells)are a family of cells including Inflammatory T-cells that rally Neutrophils and macrophages to the site of an infection quickly where they will consume bacteria.
  • Cytotoxic T-Lymphocytes that kill virus infected and possibly cancerous tumour cells.
  • Helper T-Cells that enhance the production of antibodies.
  • Monocytes leave the blood and become macrophages, which are large cells that ingest and destroy any invading antigens that enter the body and also any dead and dying cells from the body.
  • Basophils also increase production during an infection and will leave the blood stream via the capillaries and collect at the site of an infection where they will discharge granules that will stimulate the release of histamine, serotonin, prostaglandins and leukotrines. This increases the flow of blood to the infected site and results in an inflammatory reaction. An example of this might be a wasp sting or an allergic reaction to ingesting pollen resulting in a hay-fever attack.

What else is in the blood that is so vital for our health?
We have already established that without blood we die and we need a system in place that ensures that any break in the circulatory system is plugged and repaired as quickly as possible.


Platelets are fragments of cells and must be kept at sufficient density in the blood to ensure that when blood vessels are cut or damaged the loss of blood can be stopped before shock and possible death occurs. This is accomplished by a process called coagulation or clotting.

A clot is formed when platelets form a plug, which is enmeshed in a network of insoluble fibrin molecules. This forms over any break in the circulatory system preventing any further loss of blood.

Next time a closer look at oxygenated blood and Anaemia.

©sallycronin Just Food For Health 1998 – 2017

You will find all the Top to Toe posts in this directory

Thank you for dropping by. Sally