There have been some huge spikes in the sodium content of some processed foods. A 2008 study published by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) shows that the average sodium content of over 500 processed and restaurant foods stayed around the same between 2005 and 2008.
On the other hand over 100 products increased sodium content by 5% or more and nearly 30 products increased by 30% or more.
Hardee’s French Fries tripled the amount of sodium in those three years; Walmart Cream Cheese almost doubled.
Sodium content in over 110 products declined in the same period.
The American Medical Association has asked the food industry to try and reduce sodium content by 50% over ten years. It is estimated that alone could saveup to 150,000 lives annually, or 1.5 million over ten years!
Only about 10% of the salt in processed foods is there naturally on average. The rest (90%) is added by the manufacturers. Most is common salt, but there is also MSG, and Sodium Nitrite.
You know that feeling when you’ve eaten too much, especially when it’s a steak or something else similar off the grill, or a pepperoni laden pizza?
Sometimes it’s not so much because of the amount you have eaten, but it’s because of all those seasonings on the meat.
You see, when you have a lot of extra salt, your body compensates by retaining water. Your body is always striving to make a balance between the amount of salt and water in your body. Although not enough salt inhibits your capability to sweat, which is not good in hot climes, too much salt would indeed effectively poison you, so your body retains water to compensate.
Your kidneys filter out the salt, and you pass it out the body in your urine, but, as with the way your liver metabolizes alcohol, your kidneys can only process and remove the excess salt at a certain rate.
The best way to help your body rid itself of this excess is simply to cut back on the amount of salt you eat for the next couple of days.
Remember that many processed foods contain a lot of salt. It’s a good idea to rinse excess salt from such foods if it is feasible. Canned goods are often sold in brine, and rinsing them with cold water before consumption can drastically cut salt intake.
Finally, if you’re used to having a lot of salt on your food, try cutting back a little at a time. You will be surprised to find that after a while your palate adjusts and you find you actually want a lot less salt in your food that perhaps you currently do.
The Corn Refiners Association (CRA) seemingly takes exception to any suggestion that High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is in any way to blame for the increase in Child diabetes in the United States.
The CRA loves to quote the American Medical Association (AMA) as saying that HFCS doesn’t appear to contribute more to obesity to other caloric sweeteners (such as regular sugar, for example).
However, The AMA also recommends a daily limit of 32 grams of such sweeteners. The average can of soda contains 40 grams of HFCS.
So even if HFCS in itself does no more harm than other sweeteners, we can’t get away from the fact that the average American consumes far more sweeteners of all kinds than is recommended by the AMA – over 500% more. As practically all processed food products contain HFCS, it is a major contributor to obesity, and diabetes in the USA.
The best way forward is to cut out processed foods altogether. Eat fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, pasta, diary, beans and whole grains. Check anything in a carton, box, or packet though to be sure of what you are actually eating.
Cutting out processed foods, and sweeteners, including HFCS, cannot do any harm.
The World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research recently looked at how food affects cancer rates. The study showed that added salt and chemical preservatives and colors increased cancer risks.
Many processed foods can be directly linked to an increased risk of stomach cancer, and too much salt, leads to other complications such as hypertension. Processed foods can often lead to obesity too, which can increase the risk of some cancers.
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Other research has shown that about 30% of all cancer deaths can be attributed to poor diet and exercise routines.
Eating as much fresh fruit, vegetables and lean white meat and wild fish can help in reducing these risks.