Sunday, August 19, 2007

Damn that salt!

I've been thinking of more things I can write about to keep this blog interesting and this one doesn't seem to be that interesting, but I'm going to put it up anyway, just so that there isn't an exercise log at the top of my blog.

So what kind of things do I have to consider? I was talking to someone about this a few days ago, he had a heart attack a while back, and I was quite surprised when he said he can't eat ice cream!! I was a little puzzled, but when I thought a little harder it occurred to me that it was probably cholesterol that was ultimately the cause of his heart attack and to prevent further incidents he had been advised to stay away from fatty foods.

That's good advice, no matter how healthy you are. In my case however fatty foods aren't my major concern. I do watch my diet and the amount, and type of fat I eat. I'm less worried about eating a handful of peanuts, or some olive oil on my salad, than I am about the cream in a delicious pasta or the fat on that a juicy lamb chop.

So what do I need to consider when it comes to my particular condition? I've made passing comments about salt and water already, but here is the full story. I remember clearly the day when my doctor suggested the type of things I should steer clear of... and it hurt. I've never been much of a sweet tooth, so if he had said ice cream, or Bar Ones I would have been happy. But he told me to stay away from salt and the biggest sources of salt in ones diet are those delectable snacks that we all consume with such vigor at get-togethers of any sort... CHIPS and BILTONG!! I could have cried. To say that I don't eat them would be an outright lie... I love them and I'm human. So every now and then I indulge myself with a packet of Salt and Vinegar, or sample the latest addition to the Simba range. Biltong, when offered, is never refused, I just keep on walking whenever I go passed a biltong shop in a mall. It's always the little things....

So I've talked about salt but perhaps I should explain the reason. As I understand it, when your heart doesn't perform at full strength it has trouble processing fluids, so slowly as you drink water, fluid will build up in your body. This tends to pool in your lungs, I'm not sure why. Salt helps your body retain water, that's why all these energy drinks talk about replacing electrolytes. When you sweat you loose salts with that, and an energy drink replaces those salts, helping you re-hydrate better. In my case however if I have too much salt I put on weight...quickly... and start coughing, as the fluid irritates my lungs.This also puts more strain on my heart to get rid of the fluid. Whether I've explained it properly or not is beside the point, all that is really important is that I must avoid salt. 

Limiting salt consumption goes hand in hand with limiting the amount of fluids I drink. Even without too much salt, too much fluid in my body is still a strain for my heart. So I am advised to only drink about a litre of water a day. In the week, while at work this is no problem, I have a cup of coffee in the morning, and two or three more cups of whatever I feel like for the rest of the day, and maybe something more when I get back from my run or after supper. In the week there is no problem. Come social events, it gets much more difficult, that's where nursing a glass of appletiser or coke becomes an invaluable skill which I haven't yet mastered!

What's next? Probably a blog about all the other stuff I can't eat. I'm away next weekend, so the chances are that I won't be able to put up anything next weekend. The challenge is really going to be to go for 2 runs while on a weekend away. I won't be around from my Friday or Monday sessions... Self discipline will have to prevail... oh and the wrath and/or disappointment of the friends who read this blog regularly :) 


Romy said...

i'll kick ur ass :P

ps is it a bad thing that I felt an extreme craving for biltong after reading this ?

Mark said...

Thanks for that highly motivating comment Romy, I make sure that I run, anticipationg a foot in my posterior if I don't :P

Sarita said...

Hi Mark
Just to let you know i'm reading your blog regularly, and its really interesting. I like the way you explain the medical items in laymens terms. Don't stop with Mark's mission.