A recent study by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine and the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System found that a voluntary effort by the U.S. food service industry to reduce salt in processed foods could lead to a 9.5 percent decline in Americans’ salt intake. That, in turn, could lead to a very modest decline in blood pressure among consumers.
"Limiting sodium is important in kidney disease of any cause," said Eliza Chakravarty, MD, assistant professor of immunology and rheumatology at Stanford University School of Medicine and an expert on SLE. A low-sodium diet, she added, can help to maintain both kidney function and blood pressure.
A year ago, Goldman launched a blog to share low- and no-sodium recipes she has tested, as well as cooking and restaurant-ordering tips. Today more than 5,000 visitors per month check out her offerings, from crunchy risotto cakes to coconut black rice and dream bars.
Goldman said the blog is her way of saying thanks for "the gift" of being a survivor. "When I was still on dialysis, the doctors told me that because I had kidney disease, I had to lower my sodium intake to keep my blood pressure stable and to control edema," she said. "But no one told me how to do that. Where would I find low-sodium foods? What were the tricks to giving food flavor? How could I make it work?"
How? By trial and error. Goldman learned to give up her daily tuna sandwiches: "Between the bread, mayo and tuna fish, I was getting tons of salt." By forgoing one teaspoon of salt, she learned, she could give up 2300 mg of sodium. So she also gave up the crab she had thought was healthy, and started cooking more pork, which has a minimal amount of sodium. "And I began to realize that my blood pressure was stabilizing, and that I could actually lower my medications."
At the same time, Goldman understands that salt sensitivity varies widely. "My body happens to respond strongly to limiting salt intake," she said. "But some people may not respond, and everyone has to find what’s right for them."
Goldman continues to receive treatment from a nephrologist, rheumatologist and general practitioner; she also sees an endocrinologist and has frequent acupuncture. "You think you've survived," she said. "But the reality of lupus is that your body is constantly coming up with weird things to challenge you."
By Diane Rogers.