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Antibiotics May Relieve Some Cases of Chronic Lower Back Pain

The bones of your spine are separated by pads called discs. A slipped disc means that the spinal bones move closer towards each other, and squash the pads to make them narrower. This causes the disc to move out toward the sides and press on the nerves near them. This squashing of the pads between the spinal bones is called a slipped disc.

Danish researchers found Proprione acne bacteria in 46 per cent of patients suffering from chronic lower back pain following a slipped disc. These bacteria live in hair follicles and on the gums and can enter the bloodstream after brushing your teeth. After taking the antibiotic, Augmentin, three times a day for 100 days, 80 percent of those with chronic back pain associated with a herniated disc reported less pain (European Spine Journal, May 7, 2013).


 

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Clothes Block the Sun's Rays More Effectively than Sunscreens

Sun damage is the most important known factor that causes malignant melanoma, a skin cancer in moles that can kill you. Both clothes and sunscreens can partially prevent skin damage from the sun. Sunscreens are not as effective as clothes in preventing sun damage(JAMA Dermatol, published online May 8, 2013).

Half of each mole on the skin was left uncovered. The other half of each mole on the skin was covered by either clothes or a sunscreen. Then the moles were irradiated with a single dose of UV-B, the rays of the sun most likely to cause skin cancers. Sunscreens were not as effective as physical barriers in the prevention of ultraviolet light B damage.


 

Not Everyone Should Restrict Salt

This week, a report by the very prestigious Institute of Medicine commissioned by The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that no good reason exists for many Americans to drive their sodium consumption down to the very low levels recommended in national dietary guidelines.

The guidelines recommend 1,500 (a half teaspoon of salt) to 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day. The average North American takes in 3,400 milligrams a day. Some people will have their blood pressures drop slightly when they restrict salt. However, in one study, dropping salt intake in heart patients from an average 2700 mg/day to 1800 mg tripled hospital readmission and doubled the death rate (Clinical Science, 2008;114:221-230). Another study showed that both high and low intake of salt increased risk for heart attacks and heart attack deaths (JAMA, Nov 23, 2011;306(20):2229-38).

Who Needs to Restrict Salt?

People who have high fasting insulin levels and high blood pressure should restrict salt, even if they are not diabetic. On the other hand, people who are not diabetic and do not have high insulin levels will usually not be helped, and some will be harmed, by restricting salt. People who spend a lot of time exercising need to take extra salt to replace the salt that they lose through sweating.

Some People Develop High Blood Pressure from Taking Too Much Salt

Thirty-five years ago, researchers first described people whose blood pressure and weight rise when they take in extra salt. They are called "salt sensitive". They gain weight because their kidneys cannot get rid of the extra salt. The extra weight is caused by retaining extra fluid. Eventually, taking too much salt can cause salt-sensitive people to suffer kidney damage as evidenced by leaking protein (albumin) into their urine. (Diabetes Res Clin Pract, April 1998;39 Suppl:S15-26).

Insulin Resistance Can Cause High Blood Pressure

Not everyone gets high blood pressure from taking in too much salt. The people who are most likely to get high blood pressure from taking in too much salt are those whose cells do not respond well to insulin, have high fasting blood insulin levels, and are at high risk for becoming diabetic (Hypertension, Jan 2013).

How to Tell If You Are Insulin Insensitive and Therefore Should Restrict Salt

People who are insulin insensitive usually have what is called metabolic syndrome. You have metabolic syndrome if you have any three of the following:

• storing fat primarily in your belly

• having small hips

• being overweight

• having blood triglycerides (>150)

• having blood HDL cholesterol (<40)

• having a fatty liver

• having a fasting blood sugar >100 (HbA1c> 5.7)

• having high insulin levels

• having high blood pressure

Lifestyle Changes to Lower Blood Pressure

Get a blood pressure cuff and take your blood pressure just before you go to bed each night. If your systolic blood pressure is above 120 much of the time, you have high blood pressure and should check with your doctor to see if you are salt sensitive and therefore, should restrict salt (and make other lifestyle changes). All people who develop high blood pressure from excess salt intake, are diabetic, or have high insulin levels, can use the following lifestyle changes to prolong their lives, lower high blood pressure, and prevent or treat diabetes: 1) Avoid overweight. 2) Do not take sugared drinks in any form, including fruit juices, except during prolonged intense exercise. 3) Avoid foods with added sugar. 4) Avoid fried foods. 5) Eat large amounts of fruits & vegetables. 6) Do not eat red meat (blocks insulin receptors). 7) Exercise. 8) Grow muscle. 9) Reduce body fat. 10) Keep blood levels of hydroxy-vitamin D > 75 nmol/L.

How Salt Deficiency Can Cause High Blood Pressure

A low-salt diet can cause a deficiency of salt, particularly in exercisers or in very hot weather.
• Your body tries to retain the salt that you have by your adrenal glands increasing production of aldosterone and your kidneys making more renin.
• Both of these hormones constrict arteries to raise blood pressure to increase risk for heart attacks and strokes.
People who exercise regularly usually need extra salt. You lose a lot of salt through sweat, even when you swim.

The American Heart Association Stands Firm

The AHA feels that the high amount of salt in processed foods makes it almost impossible for most North Americans to suffer a salt deficiency. Therefore they still recommend severe salt restriction.

A Healthful Diet is Naturally Low in Salt

Most plants are low in salt and high in potassium. Meat, fish and chicken have higher amounts of salt, and virtually all processed foods include added salt. The most healthful diets are based on large amounts of fruits and vegetables that help to protect you from excessive salt.


This week's medical history:
Ernest Duchesne, the Father of Antibiotics

For a complete list of my medical history biographies go to Histories and Mysteries


 

Recipe of the Week:

Clementine-Black Bean Salad

You'll find lots of recipes and helpful tips in The Good Food Book
- it's FREE

May 19th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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