By Allan Bucka Jones
Pride Health Columnist
I have tackled the too much salt in our diet situation a number of times in this column, but based on recent observations, I realize there is a constant need to remind our community and the restaurant operators, who cook food for the community, that too much salt is a killer. Too many of us are dying from eating too much salt.
Recently I sat in front of a young man, about 30 years old, who took the salt shaker and doused his meal with a lot of salt. I cautioned him that this amount of salt could lead to a serious health situation, he laughed, and said he will deal with the problems when they occur. This is predominantly the reaction in the Black community, a basic “don’t care attitude” until it’s too late. We get busy and run to the doctor and ask our pastors and church members for prayers when we get a stroke, a heart attack, end stage kidney disease requiring dialysis, stomach cancer, and many other serious life threatening situations, all related to the high salt content of our diet. This happens because we are using our teeth to dig our grave. Very sad.
Salt (sodium) is a vital nutrient and is necessary for the body to function, but for many of us, the average daily consumption exceeds the maximum recommendation.
The Sodium Reduction Strategy for Canada was released in 2010. It recommended that the current average daily intake of salt (sodium) be reduced from 3400mg to 2300mg by 2016 on an interim basis. While this reduction in salt intake is useful, it is not adequate for some population groups, including the Black community. A Toronto based group, Advocates for Black Health Improvement, has suggested a need to go even lower with the daily recommended salt level to 1500mg for Black individuals. They recognize that in Canada we do not have race based health data, but the United Kingdom have specific recommendation for the Black community. Also, the US Institute of Medicine, whose expertise is used for many of Canada’s nutrition-related laws and policy, recommends 1500mg as daily average intake of salt for persons older than 51 years, and for all Black individuals. About 77% of the daily intake of salt in the overall Canadian diet, comes from processed foods, however it is documented that the main source of sodium for Black individuals, comes from salt added during cooking, and at the table.
We are too complacent. For example, I suggested in a previous column that cooking green bananas in the skin is dangerous because of the pesticides and other chemicals released into the cooking water and then absorbed by the fruit. I have also used the airwaves to alert individuals of this danger. I personally conveyed this concern to a manager of a West Indian restaurant, but they still continue to cook bananas in the skin, and many individual still purchase the bananas, risking their health. Let’s challenge our restaurant owners and processed food manufacturers. Talk to the restaurants that you visit to pick up your ox-tail, roti, jerk chicken or curry goat and other meals. Let them know your continued patronage is based on them reducing the amount of salt they put in the food they are supplying to our community. And you should mean what you say. You taste some of these cooked meals and you can feel the “zing” from the high quantity of salt they use. And the situation continues, we are still using our teeth to dig our grave.
High blood pressure or hypertension is a common result from a high salt diet. It is the high blood pressure that leads to the heart attack, the stroke, the kidney damage and other serious health concerns. High blood pressure is a medical condition in which the blood pressure is chronically elevated. In Canada there are approximately 6 million Canadians living with high blood pressure, but it is estimated that more than 2 million Canadians, are not aware of that they have high blood pressure. Black individuals are at higher risk for developing high blood pressure and at a younger age. It is a silent killer. You can have high blood pressure and not know, and could have a heart attack or stroke without any warning…and you could die suddenly. It is serious. Cut the salt.
If you are an adult and do not know your blood pressure measurement, ask your family doctor to do a measurement when next you visit him or her. If you are found to have high blood pressure, your doctor will institute measures, lifestyle adjustments and / or medications to keep your blood pressure under control. It is a good routine to have your blood pressure checked every time you visit your family doctor, and make sure you understand what the numbers represent. Some pharmacies have blood pressure meters. Ask for help in using these meters and make sure you know how to interpret the numbers.
Reduce your salt intake today !!!….The longer high blood pressure remains untreated, the greater the possibility to inflict serious damage or even cause death. For more information about blood pressure, speak to your family doctor or visit heartandstroke.com …Too much salt is still bad for you.
Allan Bucka Jones is a Health Promoter and Broadcaster. He can be heard on “Allan Bucka Jones LIVE”, Sundays from 3 to 5pm on CHRY 105.5 FM, CHRY RADIO App, www.chry.fm option RDO.to , Rogers Digital Cable 945, Bell Fibe 973 or mobile app TuneIn Radio. You can contact Allan Bucka Jones at email@example.com.