Americans Advised to Cut Salt, Follow Thirst
Report Lowers Recommended Salt Intake, Eases Water Rules
Fulfilling Your Thirst continued...
"Moreover, we concluded that on a daily basis, people get
adequate amounts of water from normal drinking behavior -- consumption of
beverages at meals and in other social situations -- and by letting their
thirst guide them," says Appel, who is also professor of medicine,
epidemiology, and international health at Johns Hopkins University in
Following your thirst may work for healthy, sedentary adults,
but experts say there are also important exceptions to that rule.
"If you're active, participating in exercise, living in an
environment that's a little bit warmer or drier, then I think you'll have to
look at more physiological signs as opposed to looking at thirst," says
Jackie Berning, PhD, RD, spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.
"You have to look at the color of your urine," says
Berning, who is associate professor of nutrition at the University of Colorado
at Colorado Springs. "If it's that dark apple juice color, then despite the
fact that you're not thirsty, you've got to put more fluids in."
Berning says that among active people, dehydration is the No. 1
danger she sees. If someone is not optimally hydrated, any type of stress, such
as a change in altitude, activity, or temperature, could put their health at
Pass on Salt, Reach for Potassium
The report sets a maximum upper limit on salt at 5.8 grams
(5,800 mg) per day. But researchers say more than 95% of Canadian men aged 31
to 50 and 75% of American women in that age group regularly consume more salt
But it's not the saltshaker's fault. More than three-quarters
of that salt comes from eating processed or prepackaged foods. A one-cup
serving of most commercial canned soups contains about 1,000 mg of sodium,
which is only 500 mg shy of the recommended daily amount.
Berning says that aside from reading the label on packaged
foods, the best way to cut back on salt is to make dinner yourself rather they
buying it in a box or a can so you can control the amount of salt that goes
In addition to reducing salt intake, the report calls for
Americans to get more potassium in their diet to help lower the risk of high
blood pressure, kidney stones, osteoporosis, and stroke. It recommends at least
4.7 grams of the nutrient per day for all adults. Potassium helps blunt the
effects of salt on blood pressure.
Researchers found most American women consume only about half
of the daily recommended amount of potassium, and men only fare slightly
better. Foods rich in potassium include spinach, cantaloupes, almonds,
mushrooms, bananas, oranges, grapefruits, and potatoes.