How much is too much salt?

Table-SaltSalt? Are you going to tell me it causes cancer?

Yep. Pass the salt…..

By Steve Born (April/May 2015 edition of Endurance News)

High salt consumption is widely known to be a leading cause of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. But here’s another serious reason to carefully monitor your salt intake: Research has linked high dietary salt intake with an increase risk of stomach cancer – the world’s fifth most common cancer. More than 950,000 new cases of stomach cancer were diagnosed in 2012 alone.

The role salt

Above: helicobacter pylori, an unwelcome quest in the human stomach.
Above: helicobacter pylori, an unwelcome quest in the human stomach.

Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection is considered the primary risk factor for stomach cancer because it causes stomach inflammation, which can progress to stomach cancer. The H. pylori bacterium is found in the stomach of approximately two-thirds of the world’s population

Some researchers believe that high sodium intake could make the H. pylori bacterium even more dangerous. “Although we don’t know exactly why salt increases the risk of stomach cancer, studies suggest it may encourage the growth of H. pylori and make it more toxic to the cells of the stomach, “ says Professor John Atherton, United European Gastroenterology Secretary General. “Most of us know that salt is associated with high blood pressure and an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. However, I suspect very few people are aware that a high-salt diet may also increase the risk of stomach cancer.”

The average daily salt intake for Americans 2 years and up – yes, starting as low as 2 years old – is a staggering 8,500 mg (3,400 of elemental sodium), vastly more than is necessary for health. Protecting both your cardiovascular health and your stomach can be as easy as lowering your salt intake, especially as found in packaged/processed foods. According to Dr. Bill Misner, “The evidence is compelling – we eat too much salt and are losing around 92,000 American people every year. Salt is highly addictive but taking it out of the diet can be done to reduce the taste addition driven for sales of packaged foods to Americans.”

Excess sodium, what’s the deal?

The American Heart Association (AHA) has spoken out strongly in response to a recent report suggesting that high sodium intake isn’t so bad after all. According to the AHA website: “Some newer research questions the link between sodium consumption and health problems, but as the AHA reiterated previously, the connection is well-established and Americans should still be cutting back on salt. … Much of the research that questions sodium intake and health problems relies on flawed data …[or studies that were] poorly designed to examine the relationship between sodium intake and the health outcome of interest.” Read more at

The AHA says that most people consume about 3,400 mg of sodium a day, “more than twice the 1,500 mg recommended” for the average person. Those who lose large amounts of sodium in sweat, including competitive athletes, can safely consume a bit more sodium per day, says the AHA. Athletes are advised to consume no more than 2,300 mg of sodium daily. For dozens of in-depth articles on the dangers of salt consumption, visit the Knowledge section of the Hammer Nutrition website:


Family fitness; 5 simple ideas to start this spring!

My oldest son Colin and I hiked Philmont Scout Ranch together when he was 14 years old.
My oldest son Colin and I hiked Philmont Scout Ranch together when he was 14 years old.

When my boys were growing up we were all fairly active.They didn’t watch too much TV and fortunately for us video games didn’t really exist. They played little league baseball in the summer and basketball in the winter. They played soccer as well. They were mostly burning off energy being boys. Today there are family distractions of your time that if not watched may lead to some unhealthy behaviors and habits that will be hard to break in the future.

Because kids and parents are less active today there is a rise in obesity, depression and family discord. Distractions of your attention away from healthy habits include;

  1. Processed food (its easy to prepare, it looks healthy when it’s not, and it tastes good because of the non-natural ingredients especially sugar)
  2. Video games (they are so prevalent that most smart phones have free apps to play against yourself but also friends and most of the games you’re sitting doing them and getting no exercise except your fingers. The reason they are free is you’re bombarded with advertisements.)
  3. Television programing (unfortunately many programs are not painting the picture of healthy families)
  4. Social media (The connection to other human beings has a powerful draw of our time to use social media such as FaceBook, Twitter and Pinterest. Just the light these smart phones emit at night wreak havoc with your ability to sleep sound and the emotions they can create from reading a post can be disconcerting.)

Taking those distractions into account I’ve created five simple ideas to use to transition your family this spring and start creating new and healthy family habits.

  1. Plan family time away from the four distractions. Even if it’s just one night a week would be a great start. It could be a bike ride, a game outside of hide and seek or creating a Frisbee golf course in the back yard. One night a month have a family get together, perhaps at a weekend meal, with a family fun calendar. The key is to plan it and involve all the family members in creating it. Assignments may include a treat, being in charge of the event or inviting other people to attend.
  2. Plant a small garden. You could plant some tomatoes in an old barrel or maybe some flowers. Each family member could have their own garden plot and plant what ever they wanted and then at least once a week the family would cultivate, take photos and gather around the garden to take part.
  3. Prepare healthy snacks in advance and eat them during the day and night. This way they’ll avoid the tendency to just grab a bag of potato chips or get an unhealthy diet or regular soda to drink because it’s convenient.
  4. Make it more fun to do something healthy than it is to watch TV, play a video game or connect on a smart phone. This is one that will take creativity and will be unique to your family. A hobby such as painting or building a model of the USS Constitution might work. Flying kites or a remote-controlled air craft would be fun. Go fishing. Perhaps producing fun videos with a GoPro camera and uploading to Family YouTube site. Even Wii fit has some games that make you move and are best done as a family.
  5. Start a small family business. Did you know that at the turn of the century in 1900 that almost 90% of the population was self-employed and many families participated in a family business? It doesn’t have to be anything major because the aim is to teach family unity, thrift and work ethics. It could be done at nights and on weekends and the entire family enjoys the profit by taking a family vacation.