Dr. Kevin Most: A friend of mine has a problem…

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Dr. Kevin Most on the Steve Cochran Show

Steve likes to call this segment the “whiny staff questions.” I prefer to take the higher road and call it, “I have a friend who asked me to ask you, segment.” The staff often comes up with great questions and concerns and although you may not think of the staff as normal people, they actually are. Often the questions they ask are ones that many of you want to hear as well. Hopefully we will continue with “I have a friend who wants to know……. Vs the whining staff segment, but this segment will stay in some form. This week I think we will have at least two questions, on from Mary and since Steve is under the weather probably one from him as well.

Two weeks ago , you probably heard Mary ask about a friend of hers who retains water after eating pizza or some other salt laden food. So we will take a few minutes to discuss why that occurs and if there is anything you can do to prevent it.

First a fun fact or two. Did you know that the human body is actually made up of 60% water, and as newborns that number is closer to 75%. Each of our bodies has a different percentage of water as fatty tissue contains less water than lean tissue, and thus the number varies based on how much we exercise and eliminate fat. You are probably thinking now, how can that be? 60% is a large amount and yet we hold our structure. Think of the body being made up of many small water balloons. The balloon portion does not weigh much but when filled with water it weighs more and maintains the shape of the balloon. The body is just like that except our balloon walls are very thin but they still maintain the shape even though they are holding mainly water.

So if that is the case then why would we want to retain more water after eating a pizza or another food loaded with Sodium. The body needs a very tight balance, that balance allows water to stay in our cells and continue to allow function. When we take in too much sodium, the body is going to want to clear it thru the kidneys. In order to do that it needs water, so its options are to pull water out of the cells or generate thirst so we take in more water and dilute the sodium out to a manageable level. This retention of water helps us protect a strain and damage to our kidneys. Kidneys act as the filtration system for our body and will help shed the additional Sodium when it is in a safe and easier concentration to not harm the kidneys. That additional sodium can not only lead to kidney problems but also high blood pressure and heart disease.

Let’s try to put this in perspective with our diets. We really only need 1500 mg of sodium a day and the maximum we should take in is 2300mg a day. How do you do?


Raisin bran 2 cups – 360 mg
Bagel – 700 mg if you add cheese
Coffee- 10 mg

Big Mac- 1040 mg
Regular fries- 350 mg
Diet Coke- 70 mg

Lunch is just finishing and this is saying you have no snacks, and you are already 1000 mg over the total daily need.

So you think you can eat healthy, change it up

Cottage Cheese 1 cup 1000 mg
Bagel plain 500 mg
Coffee 10 mg

Burger King Original Chicken Sandwich 1440 mg
Burger King regular fries 820 mg
Diet coke 70 mg

How did we do? Sorry you went the wrong direction- now you are 2300 mg over.

Frozen pizza – one slice 815 mg
Diet soda – 50 mg
Salad dressing/ 2 tablespoons 300 mg

Is there anything we can do to prevent the bloating?

1. In order to clear sodium we can exercise as sweat contains, potassium, sodium and water. Replenishing with plain water after taking in a large sodium load will help.

2. Make sure you are consuming enough water. The body will work on its balance of electrolytes and when the body sees a lot of sodium it wants to hold on to water. If you are drinking water the body will see it as excess and not retain it.

3. Eat potassium rich foods. Potassium is helpful when eliminating sodium. It is needed to bring you back in balance after a large sodium load. Foods high in potassium- bananas , oranges, nuts, raisins and most vegetables.

4. Probably the most important, eliminate processed food from your diet. Sodium is an addition to many foods for two reasons, one is taste (we love salt in our diet) and the second is preservation of the food. It is amazing how much sodium is found in processed food.

5. Don’t be caught up with the terms “reduced sodium” this is a legal term that the FDA allows. For example a pizza originally had 2000 mg of sodium, they change the recipe and it goes to 1500 mg of sodium. The company is allowed to place that on the package, so look at the numbers not the hype.

Many of you have probably heard that we have had some cases of whooping cough or pertussis in early December in a few local schools. Fortunately we had Christmas break come and this will often slow the spread as the source is separated from the pipeline. Having sick kids in a classroom just allows for the disease to spread. We all remember that initially we felt that pertussis was covered with a vaccine during childhood. We now know that is not the case and a booster is required. This is very important for new parents and grandparents as we are trying to protect the newborn who has no immunity and can’t get the vaccine for the first 2 months of life.

Lots of Upper resp infections around right now, the vast majority are viral and thus do not need antibiotics. The colds are lasting a few weeks and are making people miserable. Push fluids, rest and follow up with your doctor if you have fever, shortness of breath or not seeing an improvement by day 7.