Tag Archives: heart disease

The “Bloat” on Sodium

Salt has received a bad rap. Or has it? The American Heart Association and 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend reducing your sodium intake to less than 2300 mg per day. For high risk populations and individuals over 51 years of age, a further reduction to less than 1500 mg per day is recommended. Do you know how much sodium is in a single teaspoon of salt? (2325 mg of sodium per teaspoon) How much sodium does an American actually consumer per day? (Approximately 3436mg per day)

However, research studies are ambiguous regarding whether sodium is detrimental to our health. Experts cannot even fully agree whether we actually need to be so restrictive. A few studies suggest that limiting sodium in the diet helps reduce high blood pressure and risk for cardiovascular disease. What should we believe or even practice?

First and foremost, higher sodium products are more processed; therefore, the nutritional content is compromised. Although sodium accentuates the flavor of foods, other spices can be even more flavorful and provide health promoting phytochemicals in the diet. Sodium content is also very high in processed meats, which should be avoided according the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR). Furthermore, sodium displaces potassium in processed products, reducing a valuable dietary mineral that is healthful. The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet promotes a diet rich in calcium, magnesium and potassium for management of blood pressure. These blood pressure lowering minerals are provided by eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy and lean protein.

Although sodium is an essential electrolyte (mineral) needed by the body, it is not one we need in large amounts. There is no health advantage to extra sodium or salt. If you are an avid exerciser though, then you may need a bit more than the average person. For the average person, it would not be harmful to follow the current recommendations. Your diet will be more healthful by selecting lower sodium foods, such as fresh fruits, vegetables, and lean meats.

For sodium sensitive individuals (like myself), it is imperative that you follow the guidelines to reduce your bloat and control your blood pressure. High blood pressure or hypertension is a silent killer affecting 1 out of every 3 Americans, while prehypertension (precursor or warning sign) affects close to another 30% of Americans. The CDC reports that following the sodium guidelines would reduce the incidence of hypertension and subsequent annual health care dollars spent on treating it. Isn’t watching your sodium intake worth it?

-Larissa Brophy, MS, RD, LD


Happy Heart Health Month 2013!

It is February again, which means it is time to remind you about your heart health. Heart disease is still the leading cause of death for both men and women. Hopefully, everyone wore their red on February 1st in support the women’s heart health initiative. I am, however, going to focus on overall hearth health for EVERYONE.

Your lifestyle is important to prevent heart disease as well as control it. Here are recommendations from the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC):

1)      Eat a heart healthy diet

2)      Maintain a healthy weight

3)      Exercise regularly

  1. Goal is 30 minutes 5x week
  2. Include strength training 2 to 3 times per week
  3. Work on flexibility everyday

4)      Know your numbers

  1. Monitor your blood pressure
  2. Have your cholesterol checked yearly
  3. Manage your diabetes

5)      Use alcohol in moderation

  1. Women: Up to 1 drink per day
  2. Men: Up to 2 drinks per day
  3. One drink = 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounce of 80 proof hard liquor


What is not included on the list and just as important is stress management. When stress levels are consistently high, it can take a toll on your heart health. Remember, exercise is a great stress reducer and helps strengthen your heart while lowering blood pressure.


Stay tuned….my next few blogs will cover the components of a heart healthy diet. Until then, I strongly encourage you to take a few minutes this month to improve your heart health. Make an appointment with your physician to have your numbers checked, try a heart healthy food, or take a walk a few times per week.  Remember, it is one step at a time….

-Larissa Brophy, MS, RD, LD


Trainers Talk: Perspective of a client

It is estimated that one third of the U.S. population is considered obese. In the state of Ohio alone it is estimated that over a quarter of residents are self proclaimed as being obese (http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html). If you are like me, weight is and has been an issue for a long time. You hear professionals lay out what you are supposed to do and eat and how often and think it all sounds easy enough. Of course that is until it’s ten at night and you’re rooting through the cabinet for the least healthy thing possible because your starved and craving everything you’re not supposed to have just because. Continue reading

Don’t Try This At Home


Reality TV, What can I say about it?  Over the last ten years reality TV has taken the world by storm.  With this storm it has brought about reality TV shows about weight loss and healthy lifestyles.  As fitness professional I find myself often watching these shows.  There are many benefits I get from these such as ideas on how to motivate my clients and new fitness trends.  On the other hand, I often find myself scratching my head wondering why they just did that. Continue reading

Protect Your Vision


Did you know that age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of vision loss in Americans over 60 years of age?  It is estimated that AMD affects more than 1.75 million Americans.  As our “baby boomers” age, this figure is expected to reach almost 3 million by 2020.

Age-related macular degeneration is a disease that attacks the macula of the eye.  Since the macula is responsible for central vision, a person with AMD can only see a dim image or black hole in the center of his/her vision.  Clear “straight ahead” central vision is necessary for driving, reading, watching television, and many other tasks that we take for granted every day. Continue reading

What is your state ranked? Read to find out!


The newest statistics rank Ohio as 11th for percentage of its population being obese (tied with Kansas). Obesity is defined as a Body Mass Index (BMI) over 30. Overweight is defined as a BMI of 25 to 30. A desirable or optimal BMI range is 18.5 to 25. Individuals with high muscle mass, such as athletic men or some Olympians, may have difficulty achieving a BMI of 25 though. The BMI is your height to weight in a ratio that can be interpreted as a potential health indicator. What is your BMI?

According to the latest statistics for 2011, 29.6% of Ohioans are obese. How does Ohio compare to previous statistics? It is hard to say since data collection has changed and a better system for data analysis is being used. We will be able to compare in the future, but not to our past. However, Ohio’s percentage did not change much from 2010 (up slightly from 29.2%). As obesity rates increase in youth (has almost tripled since 1980), the expectation is that adult obesity will also rise. An overweight or obese child is much more likely to become an overweight or obese adult. As of 2008, approximately 17% or 12.5 million of children/adolescents aged 2 to 19 years are obese. In children and adolescents, obesity is defined as a BMI greater than the 95th percentile when plotted for age on the CDC Growth Charts.

Did you know that every 1 in 3 American adults are obese? That is 35.7% of our nation. And every 1 in 3 low income children are overweight or obese before their 5th birthday. Health risks associated with adult obesity include cardiovascular disease (high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol), stroke, diabetes, and some types of cancer. Overweight and obese children are susceptible to some of the health risks as well.

So if your BMI is a bit higher than recommended, you may also want to evaluate where you are carrying your extra weight for a further indication of health risk. A good measurement is your waist circumference (WC). Women should have a WC less than 35 inches and it should be less than 40 for men. Even if your WC is under recommendations, you may also want to consider if your WC has increased over the years. Carrying extra fat in the abdomen is harmful to your cardiovascular health.

Bottom line, a high BMI is not good for your health or Ohio’s ranking. Come on Ohio, we don’t want to reach the top ten. This is the one time we do NOT want to be better!

The Incredible Edible EGG


I am a huge fan of eggs due to their protein quality. For avid exercisers and weight conscious individuals, the egg can provide valuable nutrition. As a source of protein, the egg white provides all essential amino acids, which are easily digestible. So what is the problem? The egg yolk provides a substantial amount of cholesterol. Who needs all that cholesterol? Just remember 1 egg yolk is equivalent to your recommended daily intake of cholesterol.

Continue reading

Is your fish oil supplement really helping?

According to a new study, the answer is “probably not.”  Throughout the years, the effects of fish oil on heart health has been questioned.  Some research has shown that it is incredibly effective in the prevention of heart attacks and heart disease.  On the other hand, recent research shows that taking fish oil on a daily basis has no real effects on the overall health of your heart. Continue reading

Are you getting enough fiber?

Well, if you are like most American’s the answer is probably “no”.  According to a new article published in Today’s Dietitian, only 5% of American’s are getting their daily allotment of fiber.  To any registered dietitian this is an alarming statistic being as fiber is one of the most important nutrients that your body can take in.  There are a number of reasons that having the recommended daily amount of fiber is good, among those is good digestion and elimination of bodily waste.

According to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines, women should have a daily fiber intake of 25g while men should be at 38g.  However, the national average is right around 15g.  Many American’s depend on processed foods throughout their day to repel hunger which does not have a lot of fiber.  “Today’s rapid pace and lifestyle hinders people from getting enough fiber. They eat quick pantry food items when they’re hungry, such as chips and crackers, instead of carrots,” says Jessica Crandall, RD, CDE, a national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (the Academy) and a dietitian at Sodexo Wellness and Nutrition. Continue reading

Take a Bite Out of Periodontal Disease and Diabetes Mellitus

Anne L. Hague, PhD, MS, RD, LD, RDH, CLT

Did you know that diabetes mellitus (DM) increases a person’s risk for periodontal disease (i.e. periodontitis) and that those with DM and periodontitis can find it difficult to control their blood glucose levels?  Did you know that controlling periodontitis can result in a decreased HbA1c and less medication for the treatment of DM?  Researchers believe that much of the relationship between DM and periodontal disease is related to the impairment in cell-mediated immunity and vascular disease.

Although the initial association between DM and periodontal disease was first recognized more than 20 years ago, more people seem to be aware of other complications associated with DM such as heart disease, stroke, hypertension, blindness, kidney disease, neuropathy, and amputation.  Even though I have been practicing dental hygiene for more than 25 years, I have yet to hear of, or receive, a referral for periodontal therapy to help improve a patient’s metabolic control.

Unfortunately, periodontitis is a leading cause of tooth loss in adults.  Tooth loss often results in impaired chewing function with a subsequent increase in the consumption of soft foods.  This type of diet can lead to malnutrition, altered blood glucose levels, as well as further progression of periodontal disease and tooth loss.

Below are some practical tips to help reduce the risk of periodontitis and other complications associated with DM:

What can you do to improve your periodontal health if you have DM?

  • Brush your teeth after each eating period using a soft manual or quality electric toothbrush for two minutes.
  • Maintain regular preventative dental care appointments.  Three to four dental cleanings per year is often recommended.  Your dentist and dental hygienist should determine the frequency of your cleanings.
  • Maintain a healthy blood glucose level to reduce the severity of periodontal disease and improve the outcome of your periodontal therapy.

What can you do to improve your blood glucose values if you have DM?

  • Maintain a healthy diet and regular physical activity.
  • Follow your medical and dietary treatment plan as prescribed.

What can health professionals do to improve patient care?

  • Educate patients about the bi-directional relationship between DM and periodontal health.  Stress the importance of maintaining regular preventative care appointments with the patient’s dentist and dental hygienist.
  • Encourage patients to actively participate as a member of their interdisciplinary team.
  • Maintain a continued dialogue between colleagues (e.g. the patient’s physician, dentist, and dental hygienist).