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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced yesterday that it plans to implement limits on the amount of salt manufacturers may put in processed foods. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) re-published in the Washington Post, 77% of U.S. salt intake comes from processed food. There are numerous studies indicating that excess salt in one’s diet leads to health problems, including a study (also referenced in the Washington Post article) “by researchers at Columbia and Stanford universities and the University of California at San Francisco found that cutting salt intake by 3 grams a day could prevent tens of thousands of heart attacks, strokes and cases of heart disease.”

The FDA plans to work with food manufacturers to reduce salt gradually, so that U.S. palates can adjust to new tastes. (Basically, so we keep eating processed foods.) The salt industry is, of course, not so happy about the deal. One representative for the salt industry (also quoted in the Post) managed to say with a straight face that new limits “would be a disaster for the public,” and that scientific research describing the effect of salt on health was unclear.

Ha.

I, for one, am overjoyed at the new regulations. In fact, I wish that the FDA implemented them long ago, rather than waiting for food manufacturers to do it voluntarily. (That always works so well in business regulation, right?)

I stay pretty aware of the amount of sodium in the foods I consume. It’s not just because I’m concerned about heart disease and other conditions, although those do play a factor. I have Meniere’s Disease.

According to the Mayo Clinic, Meniere’s Disease is defined as:

Meniere’s disease is a disorder of the inner ear that causes abnormal sensory perceptions, including a sensation of a spinning motion (vertigo), hearing loss usually in one ear, fullness or pressure in the same ear, and ringing in the same ear (tinnitus).

The biggest triggers I’ve experienced are salt, caffeine, and stress. (I think nicotene is also an issue.) Recommended daily salt intake for those diagnosed with Meniere’s Disease is 1,000 to 1,500 mg a day. That’s if I don’t want to go deaf in one ear.

Let’s consider that number for a moment.

  • One package of ramen noodles has 861 mg of sodium.
  • An appetizer of Buffalo Chicken wings at the Cheesecake Factory (a chain in my area) has 4420 mg of sodium. That’s four days of sodium for me.
  • What about the Cheesecake Factory’s healthier options? Well, their edamame has 1260 mg of sodium.
  • Outback Steakhouse‘s “dressed baked potato” has 2350.2 mg of sodium.
  • Panera Bread‘s “Low Fat Vegetarian Black Bean Soup” has 1590mg of sodium, which is actually on the low side for soups.
  • Panera’s Greek Salad – a salad – has 1670mg of sodium. (Admittedly, it has feta, which is really salty.) Without the feta, though, it still has 1350 mg of sodium. The dressing alone has 380 mg of sodium.

Need I go on?

I can work to prepare low-sodium foods at home all I want, but it’s really hard to find something when dining out. Like many busy citizens in post-industrial countries, I don’t have time/energy to cook every day. So I endanger my health – and cause potential hearing loss due to Meneriere’s – by eating out.

I really wish these changes were going into effect sooner, as opposed to being gradually phased in over a period of ten years. I know, the public has to get used to it and manufacturers have to adjust yadda yadda yadda.

When my partner and I started living together, she was used to much more liberal amounts of salt in her food. The first time she had a no-salt-added Orange Chicken slow cooked in a clay pot, she thought it was tasteless. After a year of living with us, she thought it was delicious (and didn’t even recognize that she’d eaten it before.) Now when she goes out to places with a lot of sodium, she can taste just how salty things are. At home, we get to appreciate a greater depth of flavor. The nuances of other spices are allowed to come to the forefront. I know it takes time to adjust to lower salt in one’s diet, but it’s so rewarding once you do. Aren’t the health benefits worth it?

So thank you, Food and Drug Administration. I just ask that you hurry up a little bit, before I start going deaf.

You may (or may not) have noticed a link in my sidebar which features a woman sneezing into a handkerchief with the message, “Stay Home!” It’s a public service announcement from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) referring to H1N1/Swine Flu encouraging people to rest at home if they’re sick to prevent the spread of the disease.

I really feel like this message should apply to every communicable, acute illness one might acquire.

It seems like whenever I get a sinus infection, it lasts for roughly one month and two courses of antibiotics. There may be some viral stuff thrown in there as well. Fibromyalgia isn’t an auto-immune disorder, but it does leave one with a weakened immune system.

As much as it’s uncomfortable for me to have a month-long sinus infection, it’s even worse for someone with more serious immune system issues. What about someone with HIV/AIDS? A cancer patient? An elderly person? For any number of people, a seemingly innocuous common cold could push them into the hospital.

I have my own frustrations with people who send their kids to school with the sniffles, or who come to the office toting a box full of kleenex. At the same time, I understand it. Our society doesn’t value sick leave. Certainly, if you have one of the privileged jobs where you get a paid sick leave, you can take the day off more easily.

People working two or even three jobs, people who are living paycheck to paycheck or have little job security often don’t have the option of taking a day off of work. So, in a large majority of cases, they force themselves to go to work sick, or send their sick kids to school because they can’t take off work to take care of them.

I would love it if some future health care reform included sections on sick leave. Think of how much taking the day off work could help reduce the spread of colds, flu, and other illnesses. A rather selfish hope I suppose, because I think it might reduce the number of times I get sick for a month due to a common cold. I think it would make peoples’ lives better as well.

This post is the second in a three-part series on exercising with physical limitations

Website, website, I’ve got your website right here! There’s a great website about exercise and physical limitations, and it confirms a lot of what I said the other day.

It appears that muscle deconditioning occurs when people with FM neglect exercise in order to avoid pain. Deconditioned muscles use excess energy to accomplish tasks. This may contribute to more fatigue and make the muscles more susceptible to microtrauma, thus aggravating pain with only a low intensity of exertion. This cyclical process leads to atrophy (wasting) and greater effort performing various activities. Exercise can help to counteract this deconditioned state by improving oxygen delivery, increasing cellular metabolism, reducing muscle tightness, and eventually relieving pain to some degree. An important benefit during aerobic exercise is that muscle temperatures rise and this may possibly lead to greater relaxation.

This excerpt is from the National Center on Physical Activity and Disability (NCPAD) website, which includes an entire section on Fibromyalgia. There’s information on types of exercise, how/when to incorporate aerobic exercise/strength training/stretching, and references to books and journal articles.

The website also has sections on a number of other disabilities, ranging from “Acquired Brain Injury” to “Yoga for Individuals with Disabilities.” A full list of conditions and their related sections can be found here.

NCPAD is funded by a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and run by the University of Illinois.

Disclaimer: As with all things, consult with your medical provider or trained professional before starting a new exercise program.

My Etsy Store

A fibro-friendly item from my Etsy store

I've been working on making fibro-friendly jewelry. I'd love it if you checked them out by clicking the image above, or going to www.etsy.com/people/RogueCrafter

About Me

This blog is intended as a place for me to reflect on my own healing journey, in the hopes that others may also gain insight from my experiences. I've "borrowed" a line from Robert Frost's poem, The Road Not Taken:

'Two roads diverged in a wood, and I
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.'

I think the most important thing for me now is that I feel empowered to be a force for positive change in my life. And that, my friends, has made all the difference.

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