Sodium, Sodium Everywhere and Not a Bite to Eat

Question: which do you think has less sodium, a medium order of McDonald’s French Fries or a small salad?

Answer: It depends. Are you going to put dressing on that salad? If so, the fries win. In fact, the fries win even if you go up to large size and small fries can win if you are looking at overall fats, too!

Surprised? Don’t be. Since discovering that I had a heart attack sometime in the past, I’ve been working harder than ever to get my diet in line. I was already doing pretty good in keeping my fats low and started cooking for myself and am getting a little more “Mediterranean” in my eating and food choices each week (more fish, more veggies, less sugar). So, I thought it was time to take the next step and reduce my sodium intake.


I now understand the trials and tribulations of people with high blood pressure. Sodium is in everything that is even slightly processed. Fast food, sit down restaurants, frozen food, soups, canned vegetables, frozen vegetables (but not always), baked goods, lunch meat, you name it and I bet it’s got more sodium than you would think.

Fat free means “added salt.” Pizzas should be called sodium pies. Surprisingly, things that taste salty, like potato chips, may have less sodium than a small can of spring peas.

According to the American Heart Association we should be eating no more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day, 1,500 if you have high blood pressure. But, the average American consumes more than 3,400 mg each day (more at the AHA website)! And I know from MyFitnessPal that I’m somewhere north of that figure on any given day. How much is 2,300 mg of sodium? About 1 teaspoon of salt per day.

Now in my case, I do not have high blood pressure and my heart attack does not appear to have been caused due to any dietary issues (arteries, with the exception of the one where the damage occurred are clear and “beautiful” according to my cardiologist). It’s likely, in fact, that the heart attack occurred due to my Crohn’s. And, I could choose to side with some of the research out there which suggests that if you don’t have high blood pressure sodium intake isn’t really an issue. However, with one big strike against me, I don’t think I should risk a second. So, I’m going to keep doing my best to get my diet in line and that means lowering my sodium intake.

Now should we talk about the amount of potassium in salt substitutes and the effect that has on someone taking ACE inhibitors?

The struggle continues.


Crohn’s Update: Humira

Well, after what seems like years (it’s only been weeks) I’m finally on Humira (adalimumab). You may remember that after finally having my Crohn’s re-diagnosed my doctor thought it would be best to put me on some new medication in an effort to avoid surgery in my future. I was, of course, all for this.

However, I didn’t realize what it took to get the medicine that I was prescribed and now have a better appreciation of what some friends and family have been complaining about. Because of the expense of Humira my insurance company had to pre-approve me getting it (despite the prescription). Then once it was approved the prescription had to go through a specialty pharmacy because it needs to be kept refrigerated. So, I can’t get this picked up at the local Walgreen’s I have to call in each month to have it shipped to me (not a huge problem, but not what I’m used to). Then there is this entire “support” team to monitor me while I take it. An “ambassador” to check up on me every couple weeks, a nurse to train me on how to take the injections, and others. I think I understand why it costs so much.

The good news is that I took my first dose yesterday. I start with 4 doses the first day, then two weeks later I take 2 doses, and then 1 dose every other week from then on. Not a bad schedule as far as life-long medicines go (if not life-long than at least until something better comes along). And the injector “pen” that I use really does make the injection fairly painlessly.

I did have a slight headache yesterday and some muscle soreness (among the least of the side effects) but those seem to have passed. But I noticed something else odd today…I couldn’t feel my insides. There were no odd rumblings, no twinges of pain every couple of hours, no after lunch ‘bloat.’ I don’t know how quickly this stuff is supposed to work and it’s possible that some of the effects may only be of the placebo variety but still – I think that this may be the start of something good.

Unless I get lymphoma (another rare side effect). That would be bad…