Today’s video is SUPER important. It’s about something that so few people are talking about, teaching, aware of or looking at – but it could perhaps be THE single most important risk factor for heart disease. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the USA…in Australia 9 in 10 adults have one or more risk factors…but this is the biggest, nobody is warning us and it’s probably the easiest to fix…
Full Transcript of the Video:
There is a secret health epidemic nobody is talking about. It’s proven to be more of a risk factor for your heart than practically anything else. This factor is critical for your heart, your bone health, essential for your kidney health, for your nerve function and muscle growth, repair and performance. And if you don’t have this right – your risk of heart attack and stroke skyrocket.
Now you’re probably expecting me to say – eating sugar, or fats, or processed meats – smoking, not exercising?
Nope – today I’m talking about your potassium to sodium ratio.
Exactly, nobody is talking about this and it’s so important. It’s essential to life itself. But the way our modern diet – full of processed, packaged foods has led us – we are consuming little to no potassium and lots more sodium – and not a healthy source of sodium either.
And on top of this misleading health messages from our doctors, mainstream health media, government and pharmaceutical industry – it has led us in completely the wrong direction. They have had everyone with heart risks focus on cutting out sodium – rather than adding in potassium.
The research has proven over and over that total sodium intake is nowhere near as powerful as simply increasing potassium. However, there is not so much money in this. Just like the fat-free farce of the past 40 years, leading us to consume 300% more sugar per day than is healthy on average – which is killing us in a different way – the ‘reduced salt’ ‘low salt’ industry is booming. Law prevents food and supplement manufacturers from adding potassium to their products (more on this in a minute) – so they took the low salt option.
It’s easy for food companies to reduce salt and replace that flavour with chemicals – and if the doctors and governments are telling you to eat a low salt diet – it’s money time. Just the same as with fat free – the government says low fat, the food companies can replace fat with sugar to get the flavour into their products, and they make a ton of money – and then lobby government to keep on spreading this message.
The bottom line is this, a salt-restricted diet is not the way to protect your health.
The most important factor is potassium intake.
Now I know this might be confronting to some people, so let’s take a look at some of the evidence and studies that have supported this:
The PURE study (Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology study) – a four year study involving over 100,000 people in 17 countries actually found that sodium intake was not a good predictor of heart health – those in the lowest risk group were consuming 3-6grams of sodium a day – far more than the daily recommended limits…
And they also found that those in the group consuming LESS than 3grams a day were in higher risk group.
This suggests a non-linear relationship between your heart and sodium – too much could be bad, too little could be bad – and too little leads to other risks by the way which we’ll get onto in a minute – BUT they proposed a different approach, and a new focus – rather than aggressively reducing sodium – we should be focusing on increasing potassium.
[Note: The results were published: “Association of Urinary Sodium and Potassium Excretion with Blood Pressure & “Urinary Sodium and Potassium Excretion, Mortality, and Cardiovascular Events.”]
Study after study has been conducted into sodium and health, and there is no compelling evidence that a low sodium diet helps. In fact, most show the opposite.
In 2004 researchers from the Cochrane Collaboration conducted a meta-analysis of 11 low salt trials and found that, in normally healthy people, over the long-term, low-salt diets decreased blood pressure from 120/80 to 119/79. In other words, it made very little difference.
And in a 2006 study in the American Journal of Medicine compared the reported daily sodium intakes of 78 million Americans and showed that lower sodium diets led to HIGHER mortality rates among those with cardiovascular disease!
In 2011, the Cochrane Collaboration conducted yet another review of the available data, concluding that when you reduce your salt intake, you actually increase several other risk factors that could theoretically eliminate the reduced risk for cardiovascular disease predicted from lowering your blood pressure!
And concerningly for people with heart and blood pressure issues, they found that – and I quote them here
“sodium reduction resulted in a significant increase in plasma cholesterol and plasma triglyceride which expressed in percentage, was numerically larger than the decrease in BP blood pressure”.
The bottom line is, as we’ve always said – salt is critical to your health.
Sodium is one of the most alkaline minerals, and it’s one of the sources that powers your body – and along with potassium it is a powerful combination that keeps you functioning day in and day out.
Molecular pumps pull potassium into cells and push sodium out to create a chemical battery. This battery drives the transmission of signals along nerves and powers the contraction of muscles.
Potassium and sodium help the kidneys work properly. They are essential for energy production and fluid balance. And researchers are beginning to tease out their roles in bone health.
So you NEED salt – but the right kind of salt – not regular table salt which is predominantly sodium chloride and refined with man-made chemicals. You need natural salts – Himalayan salt, sea salt – natural, unprocessed, unrefined salt. And don’t restrict it – this isn’t helping you.
As I mentioned before – too little salt has not been able to be proven to be supportive of heart health, but it HAS been linked to other risks and even to your heart and blood pressure.
In a 2016 study published in The Lancet – while those already diagnosed with hypertension should measure and track their sodium intake to not go too high…for those WITHOUT hypertension, a low sodium diet was associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular events and death.
It’s clear that focusing on sodium makes things very unclear!
Confusion, Conflicting Advice, Overwhelm…anyone?
We often talk about how overwhelm, confusion, conflicting advice is the biggest frutstation for people wanting to make healthy changes to their diet – and how about this!
- People eating a ton of salt were in the low risk group.
- People eating low levels of salt were also in the low risk group.
- People WITH hypertension with a high salt diet should change it…
- People WITHOUT hypertension should eat MORE salt.
- And a low-salt diet can increase risk of hypertension!
Which is true?!
Well, the bottom line is they all are. The truth is, sodium isn’t the important factor here. Your POTASSIUM INTAKE, and it’s relative ratio to your sodium is the ONLY critical factor here.
And the shocking fact is, estimates predict that 95% of us are eating nowhere near enough potassium each day.
How much potassium should we have?
While the recommended amount in the USA, UK, Europe, Australia sits are an average of around 4,700mg/day – this isn’t the most important measure. Of course, we need to get enough.
But on top of this our ratio of sodium to potassium has to be right. We’re getting way too much sodium in relation to our potassium – and this is causing a huge amount of issues in the body. If you’re facing any kind of blood pressure, heart, hypertension, cardiovascular issues OR if you’re facing issues with your bone health, density, strength, or muscular issues – I highly recommend you pay attention to this.
And getting enough potassium is critical. But – keeping your SODIUM TO POTASSIUM RATIO is even more critical.
According to a Harvard Health School report:
“Thousands of years ago, when humans roamed the earth gathering and hunting, potassium was abundant, while sodium was scarce. The so-called Paleolithic diet delivered about 11,000 milligrams (mg) of potassium a day…but well under 700 mg of sodium. The scarcity of sodium is reflected in the human body’s marvelous ability to hold onto this substance.”
The body only NEEDS 200mg of sodium a day to survive, but the average person eating a regular western diet is having up to 7,500mg per day – crazy.
And as mentioned, it’s recommended we have 4,700mg of potassium yet most people are getting half of that amount at best.
So we’ve evolved with a sodium potassium ratio requirement of around 1:6 sodium to potassium and we’re actually consuming 4:1 sodium to potassium.
In the 2011 study “Sodium and Potassium Intake and Mortality Among US Adults” the researchers found, after looking at studies involving 12,000 adults that “Our findings suggest that a higher sodium-potassium ratio is associated with significantly increased risk of CVD and all-cause mortality”
Not good. We have to address this.
Step One: Ditch Processed Foods
Processed foods are almost always high in sodium and very very low in potassium. They are also a source of hidden sugars, preservatives, acid-forming ingredients, chemicals and very low nutrient content. Certainly nothing fresh. Plus they’re often pasteurised which kills off any remaining nutrients. Rubbish.
These foods are easily replaced in the diet with just a little pre-preparing and planning. There is not a fast-food, oven meal, microwave meal (and don’t get me started on microwaves) that cannot be replaced with just a little pre-preparation and planning.
For example, just look at this – instead of a regular store bought spaghetti bolognaise sauce which contains very little potassium, a ton of sodium and an unholy amount of sugar, I simply blend:
1 garlic clove
½ red onion
This contains 1600mg of potassium per serve – just for this. What a change – plus a ton of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, anti-inflammatory and alkaline forming foods. Plus it’s raw, so you can just gently warm it and it’s ready to go without destroying the nutrients in the food.
This is just one quick, simple example. And, if like we do you serve this sauce over a bed of steamed veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, peas, carrots and green beans – this bed of veggies contains around 1400mg of potassium, meaning you’ve gotten 3000mg of potassium from this dinner…
Instead of a bolognaise sauce over pasta and meatballs which would have contained all of that sugar, almost no nutrient content, lots of man-made chemicals, preservatives, and and a lot of processed sodium with very very little potassium.
Step Two: Lots of Fresh Veggies and a Little Fruit
The foods that are highest in potassium – one of the most alkaline minerals on earth, are of course highly alkaline forming foods – in other words, fresh foods, fresh vegetables and fruits.
Now, you need to be careful of not over consuming fruit as the high fructose content can cause big problems with the liver, your hormones, inflammation and acidity – that’s another video.
BUT I do recommend that 1-2 pieces of in-season fruit per day is fine. Avoid fruit juices (fructose without fibre is disasterous for your body), and avoid dried fruits, because these are easy to overconsume, and they are just little bundles of concentrated sugar.
The foods highest in potassium that I recommend are:
Beet Greens, Swiss Chard (Silverbeet), Spinach, Bok Choi, Beetroot, Brussel Sprouts, Broccoli, Tomoatoes, Asparagus, Cabbage, Carrots, Kale, Celery, Lettuce, Bell Pepper, Lima Beans, Sweet Potato, Avocado and Kidney Beans.
Again – loads of green foods – as ever, whenever there is a nutrient and the foods recommended – it’s always loads of alkaline green foods. There is a trend here….
Fruits can support this too but generally they are way lower in potassium than these foods – even the much lauded potassium king the banana, gram for gram contains WAY less potassium than those foods listed above.
Step Three: Juices & Smoothies
Yep, juices and smoothies again – I never stop recommending having a green juice or smoothie each morning before you leave the house. Here is the recipe for my High-Potassium Juice and Potassium Rich Super Smoothie – so no excuses about only having a juicer or blender – there is one of each!
These are a fantastic way to get a huge hit of potassium before you even leave the house!
The bottom line is that in a juice or smoothie you can pack WAY more veggies in than you would normally be able to happily eat in one sitting, and you can get them in before breakfast – not something you’d normally do in a day!
Either is fine, the bonus of smoothies being that you can add avocado (super great source of potassium and healthy fats) and you get all the fibre…the benefits of juices is you remove the fibre so you can more easily digest the nutrients AND you can add more leafy greens.
Do this daily and you’ll really feel the difference!
Step Four: Healthy Salts and NOT Cut Back
Swap your salt now. If you are still using regular table salt, cut it out immediately. And if you are going to follow step one and cut out processed foods, you will need more salt added into your home-made foods – and I highly recommend a natural salt like pink Himalayan salt.
Salt is essential to your health with your body requiring it for so many processes including: Being a major component of your blood plasma, lymphatic fluid, extracellular fluid, and even amniotic fluid; Carrying nutrients into and out of your cells; Maintain and regulate blood pressure; Increasing the glial cells in your brain, which are responsible for creative thinking and long-term planning; Helping your brain communicate with your muscles, so that you can move on demand via sodium-potassium ion exchange
You need it – but the right kind.
Whereas regular table salt is 97% sodium chlorine and then 3% man made, carcinogenic chemicals, Himalayan salt is 84% sodium and the other 16% is naturally occurring trace minerals that are SO beneficial for your health.
The Takeaway Message Here is:
You need to cut out processed foods and add in these fresh, green, healthy, natural foods – real salt, and if you’re concerned about your cardiovascular health, bone health, muscle health – I recommend you look specifically into your recent daily diet – make a retrospective food diary of your past 3-4 days and look at how much potassium and sodium you consumed. Use a site like those listed below this video – nutrient data or calorieking and calculate your totals. It could be very eye opening for you.
Ditch the junk, eat real foods and let’s do this, let’s take your energy up to the next level!
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