Wednesday, September 15, 2010


For a longtime now, we have been advocating a low salt diet to lower Blood Pressure, as exemplified by the DASH diet. There have been so many studies that have shown that, and it is something that we can do, that is virtually free ( in fact there may be cost savings ) and also without side effects.
The Arch of Internal Medicine, Sept. 13, carried a research paper by a group of Dutch workers led by Dr Linda A J van Mierlo, which showed that increasing dietary potassium intake, reduces blood pressure and more importantly, clinical events, especially strokes, heart attacks and heart failure.
What the Dutch researchers did was to go into on-line database ( as is the trend nowadays ), and look at all the clinical trials and surveys, that had records of dietary potassium intake and also blood pressure recordings over time. They collated the data and analysed it. They accepted the US Nutritional recommendation of an optimal dietary potassium intake of 4.7gms of potassium daily. They worked out that most countries across Asia, Europe and USA had mean dietary potassium intake lower than the recommended. For example, the mean dietary K intake in China is about 1.7gm/day, USA 2.7gm/day, UK and most European countries 3.7gm/day. They also found that if we were to increase our K intake to 4.7gm/daily ( this is theorectical calculation and extrapolation ), we will be able to reduce the incidence of stroke by 8-15% and deaths from CAD by 6.11%, almost as good as a low salt diet, and almost as good as some of the drugs. It is true that increasing dietary K intake is unlikely to control those with severe hypertension, although it may help, but it should help those with mild or borderline hypertension or pre-hypertension, which forms the bulk ( majority ) of the hypertensive population.
And whats more, the solution is easy, cheap, cost savings and for many of us , even pleasurable.
Just eat more fruits, green veges, whole grain, dairy products, and would you believe it, drink more coffee. There is some extra potassium in coffee drinking. Maybe that is why the Chinese have a low K intake ( they are mainly tea drinkers ), when compared to the English and Europeans, and Americans. We are not encouraging potassium salt supplements as tablets. Anyway, there seem ti be a difference between the various kinds of anions. It appears that potassium chloride is not as effective as potassium citrate. We would rather that each of us eat more fresh veges and fruits, eat more whole grains, and drink more coffee.
Of course the findings of this study is very much in keeping with the findings of the earlier INTERSALT study.
There is a downside which must also be said. That those who have kidney failure may need to seek the advise of their own doctors, and high potassium intake may be dangerous in patients with kidney failure.
I think that for the sake of good health, especially for those of us who are above 40years, eating more greens, fruits, whole grain, and drinking not more then 4 cups of coffee daily, makes alot of sense, and also may save many dollars.

No comments: