How to Take Charge of Your Health

Salt: The Silent Killer
Do you know how much salt you are consuming? The recommended daily allowance is less than 2,400mg of sodium, slightly more than one teaspoon. But on average, most Americans consume more than 4,000mg each day. Excess salt in your diet can lead to numerous health problems, such as hypertension, heart disease and stroke.

The Salt We Eat

The amount of sodium contained in some of your favorite foods may just surprise you:

• Small bag of regular potato chips: 180mg
One cup of regular cottage cheese: up to 851mg
Two strips of bacon: 146mg
One cup of regular chocolate pudding: 840mg
One slice of pepperoni pizza: 2,132mg

"If you get different kinds [of potato chips] that have all the sauce on them and everything, then that's not necessarily going to be quite [as little sodium]," OB/GYN Dr. Lisa Masterson says. "But if you get the regular bag of chips, your sodium [intake] will be less. There is a difference between calories, and healthy and sodium content. You have to take all of these different factors together."

"This just goes to show just how much salt is put in these processed foods for taste," plastic surgeon Dr. Drew Ordon says.

If you want a healthy, low-sodium snack, E.R. physician Dr. Travis Stork recommends low-sodium cottage cheese.

Lyssie and Tammy Lakatos, also known as The Nutrition Twins, are registered dieticians and authors of The Secret to Skinny. Their work focus on the negative effects of too much sodium in the body. "What is really interesting to us," Lyssie says, "is that all of us in the health field have heard about sodium being so bad for our health, but we, as registered dieticians, started getting bombarded with information that it actually made us fat."

Tammy explains that sodium makes the fat cells more dense and able to hold more fat, causing a person to be hungrier, thirstier and have increased cravings.

"And, it increases insulin resistance," Lyssie adds. "So that combination for someone who is looking to lose weight spells double trouble."

"Salt is absolutely necessary," Dr. Travis says. "Sodium is needed by each and every cell in your body, just like healthy fats are needed, healthy carbohydrates. So you don't need to get rid of sodium altogether, you just need to decrease the amount of it."

Adopt a Dog

These playful pooches are looking for a nice home. If you've thought about adding a dog to your live, consider adopting one of these abandoned dogs.

Shepherd mix
Estimated date of birth: May 1, 2009

Foxhound mix
Estimated date of birth: April 1, 2008

Catahoula Leopard mix

Estimated date of birth: May 14, 2008 

Basenji mix

Estimated date of birth: Dec. 1, 2005

For more information on adopting these, or other dogs, visit the Helen Woodward Animal Center!

Pet-Healthy Life
Not only are dogs fun to have around, they can also improve your health. The Doctors are dog owners and advocate having a furry friend, not just because they are cute, but for the health benefits as well. Owning a dog has been shown to calm nerves and lower blood pressure.

"Even for kids, pets can have benefits," pediatrician Dr. Jim Sears says. "Kids who have dogs have lower levels of asthma and allergies. And of course, it's great exercise, getting out and walking your dog, running around the yard."

The Helen Woodward Animal Center, the Iams pet food company and 3,500 animal welfare organizations around the world have joined together to help get animals adopted. The groups are attempting to find a home for 1.5 million orphaned pets by January 4 through the Iams Home 4 the Holidays adoption program. Every pet adopted through the program will go home with a starter kit that includes training tips, pet nutrition information and more!

Choking Concerns
Katherine from Lewiston, Maine fed her 9-month-old a raisin and her baby nearly choked. She wrote The Doctors to find out what foods are safe for babies to eat. Dr. Sears explains which foods are choking hazards, which are safe and what to do if your baby begins to choke.

Lumpy-Bumpy Breasts
Candace, 38, has a number of soft, moveable lumps in her breasts that tend to swell and hurt more around her period. She has a history of breast cancer in her family and asks The Doctors if she should be worried.

"Basically, it's fibrocystic changes," Dr. Lisa says. "The lumpy-bumpy breast, that's what we like to call it as gynecologists, they're not definite masses. They're more like ridges. They're more two-dimensional, as opposed to three-dimensional. The key is that they are cyclical. They go with the [menstrual] cyclical changes. You get more tenderness right before the period. So many women are affected by this.

"But you should be concerned because you do have a family history, so you do want to do your breast exam, like you're doing," Dr. Lisa adds. "If you feel something like a pea, grape or M&M - that's three-dimensional -that's something you want to get a mammogram, an ultrasound, maybe a breast biopsy or aspiration, to see if it's benign or not."

Since a fibrocystic breast is more dense and difficult to read on a mammogram than a normal breast, a breast MRI may be needed to check for signs of cancer.

The New Botox?
Jennifer's 35th birthday is fast approaching, and she is looking for a skin pick-me-up, since sun damage has caused wrinkles to appear around her eyes and forehead. She heard about Dysport, a new alternative to Botox, and wants to know the difference between the two.

"There's a new kid on the block," Dr. Ordon says. "Botox now has a competitor, and I think it's a healthy, friendly competition. Dysport is basically the same product, botulinum toxin A, which blocks the transmission of nerves. It prevents you from being able to contract your muscles, and in turn, stops wrinkles. They claim that [Dysport] is less painful to use, and its onset is quicker."

Jennifer is pleased with the results of her Dysport injections. "I absolutely love it," she says. "I look like I feel. People always tell me that I look young, and all I would see is my grandmother's forehead when I would look at myself. The lines have gone away, I can't even scrunch my forehead, and the crow's feet are gone."

Dr. Ordon says that both Dysport and Botox are efficient products, and people can respond differently to each, so you should consult with your doctor.

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OAD 10/23/09