salt

Wednesday is the unofficial day for health news in the U.S., and if you believe everything told to us this morning, we’re all as good as dead.

First, the sugar report: Eating processed foods with added sugar is putting everyone at increased risk for heart attacks, strokes and diabetes. If this isn’t surprising to you, join the crowd. However, this latest study is supposedly news because it is the first to look at sugar and blood fats. Since sugar is messing with blood fats, that means it’s messing with your heart, right?

The sugar study is in the latest edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). JAMA is published on Wednesdays, which has everything to do with why we’re bombarded once a week with alarming health news.

You should now be concerned about everything in your pantry. And if you add even more sugar – like a teaspoon or two to your Wheaties – well, according to this study, you just signed your own death warrant.

But wait! There’s more!

Here’s the salt report: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says everyone’s eating way too much salt, which puts us at increased risk for – wait for it – heart attacks, strokes, etc., etc.  And if you’re African American or Latino, you might as well cash in your chips right now, because you people are just off the charts when it comes to salt consumption.

So the FDA wants everyone to cut back slowly. That makes sense, but not to the Institute of Medicine, the health arm of the National Academy of Sciences, which released a report yesterday stating the government should act NOW and create REGULATIONS regarding the amount of salt put into processed foods.

Guidelines suggest we have only one teaspoon of salt a day. Statistics suggest we consume at least 50 percent more than that, regularly. About 90,000 deaths a year would be prevented if we just had that teaspoon a day, say the folks at the Harvard School of Public Health, and statements like that are exactly why we should take this news with … you see it coming, don’t you? … a grain of salt.

My problem with these weekly medical study results has to do with correlation versus causation. That’s just a fancy way of saying PROVE IT.

Let me break it down: The salt study says Americans are consuming more salt. The salt study also says that because of that, more Americans are dying of heart disease, heart attacks, high blood pressure and stroke.

I’m  a fan of logic, and logic says that’s not true. Sure, there may be a correlation, but there are dozens of reasons why people suffer heart attacks, and it’s just wrong to front like salt is the main one. However, on tonight’s news, that’s not how Brian, Katie and Diane will make it sound.

Lowering salt and sugar in processed foods is a good idea. I need all the help I can get in making healthy choices. But mandates? Regulations? Taxes?

I’d like to see the study results on why anyone thinks those tactics would work.

In other cheery health news today, there’s supposedly a gene that makes you fat and more susceptible to Alzheimer’s disease.

Sorry. All that comes to mind are truly tasteless jokes. Really funny ones! But yeah, tasteless.

Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth. .~  Albert Einstein

Leslie J. Ansley is an award-winning journalist and entrepreneur who blogs daily for TheRoot. She lives in Raleigh, NC.