The Impact of Sodium

  • By Jengyu Lai
  • 17 Oct, 2016

Written by Kayley Gamm, RDN

This past Tuesday was class 9 for the Community CHIP program. We started off with a meal of spaghetti squash with a vegetable ragu sauce and a green salad with apple cider vinaigrette. We were also lucky enough to try a lentil roast (see recipe below) and papaya and lime salad brought in by one of the participants.

 The topic for the evening was sodium. Sodium is found in every food, both naturally occurring and added. The salt that is added to foods accounts for over 77% of the sodium that we consume each day. Salt is added to foods for many reasons, two of the major ones being flavor and preservation, allowing those processed foods to sit on our shelves longer.
Sodium is regulated by our kidneys and is essential for fluid balance, sending nerve signals and muscle function, but we really only need a small amount for that to happen- roughly 500mg. The average American is eating 6 times that, about 3000mg, per day. So how much sodium do we really need? The American Heart Association recommends aiming for about 1500mg of sodium per day; this is a little over ½ tsp of salt.
Too much salt can have a dramatic impact on your health. When we eat too much salt or processed food, the sodium will pull water into the blood vessels. That extra water that is stored raises blood pressure, increasing the work of your heart. This can not only cause a strain on our heart, but on arteries, kidneys and the brain, potentially leading to a stroke or heart disease.
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is the one of the major known risk factors for heart disease, which is the number one leading cause of death worldwide. Hypertension has no visible symptoms, so it is important to check your blood pressure regularly, especially if you have personal or family history of heart disease or hypertension.

To keep your salt intake down, take a look at the nutrition facts label while shopping, looking for 300mg sodium or less per serving for a meal item and 150mg sodium or less per serving for a snack item. You can also cut back on the processed foods, opting for more whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds (with no salt added, of course).
Keep a record of how much salt you are taking in today. If you are taking in more than 1500mg, determine a small change you can make in your diet decrease the amount of sodium or salt you are eating.

Here is the recipe for the lentil roast that was brought in for the CHIP class, it was delicious!

Lentil Roast

2 cups brown lentils, cooked
¾ cup ground pecans
1 ¾ cup soy milk
1 cup onions, finely chopped
1 Tbsp soy sauce
½ tsp sage
½ tsp garlic powder (or 1-2 cloves, minced)
1 ½ cup crushed cornflakes

Mix all ingredients together well.
Pour into a lightly sprayed casserole dish.
Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

News / Blogs

By Jengyu Lai 03 Jul, 2017

Whether you’ve fully adopted a plant-based diet or are simply dipping your toes in the water, there’s no doubt that wholesome food is at the center of one’s wellbeing.


Here we’ve rounded up five of our favorite cookbooks that are chock full of nourishing recipes and nutrition tips that are sure to assist in your healthy eating goals:


1.         Forks Over Knives – The Cookbook

If you watched the Forks Over Knives documentary (read more about it here , along with the rest of our top documentary picks), you know what FOK is all about – the concept that degenerative diseases afflicting so much of the U.S. today can be controlled and even reversed by rejecting animal-based and processed foods. This cookbook features 300+ plant-based recipes which place fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes in the lime light.


2.         The China Study Cookbook: Over 120 Whole Food, Plant-Based Recipes

This cookbook came to fruition thanks to The China Study; a book touting one of the most comprehensive nutrition studies ever conducted which reveals that a plant-based diet leads to optimal health and can halt or even reverse many diseases. The China Study Cookbook shares 120+ plant-based, nutrient-dense recipes that promote optimal health.


3.         The PlantPure Nation Cookbook: The Official Companion Cookbook to the Breakthrough Film

PlantPure Nation, yet another noteworthy documentary created by the same producers as Forks Over Knives, provides this trusty companion cookbook boasting 150+ plant-centric recipes. It’s also filled with tips, tricks, and grocery lists for people interested in a whole food, plant-based diet.


4.         Plant-Powered Families: Over 100 Kid-Tested, Whole-Foods Vegan Recipes

Inspire healthful, plant-based eating among the whole family with this must-have cookbook from Dreena Burton. From delicious school lunches to appetizing on-the-go snacks, this book supplies more than 100 kid-tested and approved recipes and serves as an excellent reference for parents raising young ones on a whole food, vegan diet.


5.         Crazy Sexy Kitchen

Don’t let the risqué title of this one deter you. Author and cancer survivor Kris Carr attributes her triumph over cancer to her lifestyle changes, most especially her diet. After embracing a diet made up of whole, plant-based foods, she soon discovered the transformative power of nutrition and felt better than she ever had. This cookbook offers 150+ recipes that includes everything from fresh-pressed juices to delectable desserts.


Also recommended: Oh She Glows, Minimalist Baker, But I Could Never Go Vegan


What are some of your favorite cookbooks? Share on our Facebook page !

By Jengyu Lai 28 Jun, 2017
Knee pain is hindering your daily enjoyment. It hurts to sit; it hurts to stand. And exercise is out of the question. You have tried injections and knee braces but nothing is working. What do you do? Now is the time to call Rochester Clinic.

You will receive a thorough assessment from one of our physicians. Our goal is to stop the pain, find the root cause, treat the cause, and maintain a pain free state. Rochester Clinic and your healthcare team will look at your diet, physical activity, medications, and health conditions including injury, disease, and weight. We take a conservative approach to healthcare before suggesting surgical interventions. We have an on-site clinical laboratory, Digital x-ray, and biomechanics laboratory for the best assessments and diagnostics.

Simple changes in lifestyle choices may alleviate much of your pain. You will learn exercises to strengthen weak muscles, increase flexibility, and safe options for weight management to reduce pressure on your joints. Interesting fact: The foods you eat can help or hinder joint inflammations.

The structure of your foot and knee may also be a cause for your pain. High arches, flat feet, pronation or supination of the foot will affect the pressure and development of the knee. Something as simple as the right footwear or custom orthotics would provide pain relief.

We have the tools to help you be on your way to living a healthy, active, and pain free day!

For more information on Rochester Clinic, the services and programs we offer, please give us a call at  507-218-3095, visit our website at , or e-mail to

We are happy to answer your questions and get you on your way to a healthy life!

By Jengyu Lai 13 Jun, 2017
Amy Blackstad, a recent graduate of one of our CHIP (Complete Health Improvement Plan) groups, is a true testament to the power of lifestyle medicine. Her health improvement in the nine months since she started adopting the CHIP principles has showed to be far more effective than the years of traditional medical consultations she had grown accustomed to.

We recently caught up with Amy to hear her inspiring story, and to share with you some of her tips and takeaways. Take a peek:

Rochester Clinic : What made you decide to sign up for the CHIP program?
Amy : I was curious to see if this could do anything for me medically and physically.

Rochester Clinic : How has adopting the principles of the CHIP program transformed your life?
Amy : Before starting CHIP, I was on 50-60 units of insulin a day and on oral medications to try and control my numbers. In total, I was on nine different medications trying to combat my various ailments. I was constantly fighting migraines and dealing with high cholesterol along with pain and overall ill-feelings daily. Kidney damage became evident years ago.
Now, since graduating from CHIP, I am down to one medication, daily insulin use is not needed, and I can’t remember when I last had a migraine -- and I use to get them every weekend without fail. My endocrinologist, who use to just shake his head at me and prescribe more medication, was very pleased at my last appointment and felt he didn’t need to see me anymore. He said he was comfortable with letting me just see my nurse practitioner to monitor my diabetes. I feel good; I now feel like I’m living, not just existing.
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