Jan 12

Along with the announcement that the New York City Health Department is establishing guidelines for the sodium level of foods sold and served within its city limits, was an admission by Mayor Mike Bloomberg that he is a big salt consumer himself.

Reportedly Mayor Bloomberg loves hot dogs and popcorn, eats peanut butter and bacon sandwiches, and adds extra salt to his pizza and saltine crackers. The reason the Mayor seems to have an insatiable appetite for all things salty is because sodium is an addictive substance, according to nutrition experts.

“The more salt you eat, the more salt you want. It’s a vicious cycle,” according to Tammy Lakatos Shames, a New York registered dietitian. “Salt is an acquired taste. You aren’t born craving the taste of salt, but you build up a tolerance to it over time” adds Lyssie Lakatos, Tammy’s dietitian twin sister.

The Lakatos sisters (a/k/a The Nutrition Twins) put great emphasis on sodium intake in their nutritional counseling practice because they believe it is one of the biggest health risks in America today.

“People think if they don’t have high blood pressure they don’t have to worry about salt, but that’s not true,” Lyssie says. In the book that the Lakatos sisters co-authored, called “The Secret to Skinny: How Salt Makes You Fat,” the Nutrition Twins list a number of serious maladies that researchers have linked to excessive sodium intake.

Impaired brain function, kidney damage, stomach cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, and strokes can all be caused by sodium toxicity, researchers say. But the biggest health consequence for excessive salt intake for Americans, according to the Nutrition Twins, is obesity. “Salt makes you fat,” both sisters state emphatically.

In their “Secret to Skinny” book, the Lakatos sisters explain how salt toxicity produces more fat in the body, makes the fat cells more dense, increases food cravings, and decreases the body’s ability to burn fat and repair muscle. This is information that the Nutrition Twins think is vital to the 70 million Americans who are struggling with obesity.

“We definitely think it’s a step in the right direction,” Tammy Lakatos says about New York’s sodium guidelines. “Hopefully this will lead to more awareness about the dangers of salt,” she says.

New York’s sodium guidelines are just the latest in regulatory efforts to motivate healthy eating in the Big Apple. In 2008 New York became the first U.S. city to require restaurants to display calorie counts of foods in menus, on menu boards, and on display case labels. Prior to that, in 2006 New York became the first U.S. city to ban trans fats from all foods and ingredients served in New York City restaurants.

With the latest campaign against high sodium foods, Bloomberg is once again pointing New Yorkers towards good health, and setting the pace for other U.S. city government leaders as well. Hopefully Bloomberg will be pointing his own eating habits in a low-sodium direction too.

Although it’s not clear what, if anything, Mayor Bloomberg will be doing to reduce his own sodium intake, Tammy and Lyssie suggest that he is probably addicted to the taste of salt. If that is the case, going cold turkey is the best way that he could break that addiction.

“Taste buds turn over in 21 days or less,” Tammy says. That’s why, in their book, the Nutrition Twins recommend a 21-day cold turkey salt detox. “After 21 days, your taste buds will adjust, and then when you add salt back into your diet, a little bit will taste like a lot,” Lyssie says.

The Nutrition Twins are hoping that Mayor Bloomberg will use the copy of “Secret to Skinny” that they are sending him to break any addiction he may have to toxically salty foods. But until Bloomberg’s sodium detox is complete, the Lakatos sisters have one big caution for him and every American.

“Read labels!” both Nutrition Twins say emphatically. “Nearly 80% of the sodium intake of the average American is from processed foods, not from what we’re shaking onto our plate,” Lyssie says. “We all need to know more about what how much salt we’re eating and what that sodium is doing to our bodies,” Tammy adds.

Tammy Lakatos Shames and Lyssie Lakatos are registered dietitians and personal trainers with a private practice in New York. They are co-authors of the book, “The Secret to Skinny: How Salt Makes you Fat and the 4-Week Plan to Drop a Size and Get Healthier With Simple Low Sodium Swaps,” and are featured regularly in the media as nutrition and fitness experts.

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Sep 15

The amount of sodium in the diet is an old issue that is getting new attention with those in the field of nutrition and health. Of particular interest is the connection between sodium and obesity. A current theory is that a dangerous level of salt toxicity can cause the body to produce more fat cells. And those sodium toxic fat cells can be denser and more difficult to get rid of.

The medical community has linked an excess of sodium in the diet with hypertension and heart disease for decades. Now it is also clear that when salt builds up to toxic levels it can cause and contribute to stomach cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, and a number of different maladies.

Salt toxicity is a growing health concern for Americans because of the amount of salt that is being used by food manufacturers and large restaurant chains as a preservative. Because diners are not aware of the “hidden salt” in their processed foods and menu selections, they are making uninformed choices that have dangerous consequences. The cumulative effects of sodium overconsumption is starting to show up in national disease statistics.

A book which addresses the dangers of salt and how to effectively do a salt detox was written by New York dieticians Tammy Lakatos Shames and Lyssie Lakatos. The Lakatos sisters (a/k/a “The Nutrition Twins“) have found in their nutrition practice that the sodium issue is becoming so huge, that unless American dieters first go through salt detox, most will continue to get huge, despite their best efforts.

Recognizing that it can be treacherous for Americans to navigate their way through the minefield of sodium-rich foods offered to them, The Nutrition Twins give dozens of simple ideas that help their clients and readers to a salt detox diet and achieve a healthy salt balance. Here are some of the “Twin Tips” that are included in their book, “The Secret to Skinny”:

  • Unsalted pistachios are the “skinny nut” because they are high in proten, fiber, and healthy fat. Buy them in the shell because the work it takes to eat them will make it hard to eat too many. (Avoid the roasted and salted pistachios completely!)
  • “Low fat” does not mean “low sodium.” Often low fat and no-fat products have even more sodium and sugar to compensate for the flavor that is lost when the fat is removed.
  • Salt is sometimes hidden in other ingredients. Products that contain disodium phosphate, monosodium glutamate (MSG), sodium alginate, and sodium nitrate (or nitrite) contain more sodium than you think.
  • Swap your sodium-rich breakfast cereal for a bowl of oatmeal with fresh fruit. This will completely eliminate salt from your breakfast and leave you feeling less bloated all day.
  • Canned vegetables can make you fat because of the extremely high amount of sodium. Always rinse canned vegetables instead of consuming the salty liquid they’re packed in.
  • Parsley is not just a garnish, it’s a natural diuretic. Add it to your recipes for eating, not just for looking pretty on your plate.
  • Instead of eating greasy salty popcorn, eat air-popped popcorn seasoned with cayenne powder, onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder, coriander, or chili powder for a flavorful treat instead.
  • Don’t forget that dairy products contain sodium too. Read the labels carefully because sometimes low fat and no fat versions have the most sodium and will make you retain water weight.
  • After eating a sodium-rich meal (like Chinese, for example) you can cure a “salt hangover” by drinking 2 cups of green tea and eating 4 dried plums to flush the salt out of your system more quickly.

Related Salt Toxicity Information:

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