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August 25, 2016

Prevent Falls

The number of adults over 65 years of age who die from unintentional falls continues to increase. About 12 million older adults, approximately 1 in 3, fall each year in the U.S. Over half of these falls occur in the home. Every year, 2. 5 million older people are treated in emergency rooms for fall injuries including fractured arms, wrists, legs, and hips. 250,000 older folks are hospitalized for hip fractures alone. In addition, falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries. Falls are the leading cause of injury in older adults but the good news is that many risk factors can be changed or modified to cut the risk for injury. According to the CDC, most falls are caused by a combination of risk factors. Those factors include: Lower body weakness Vitamin D deficiency Difficulties with walking or balance Use of medicines, such as tranquilizers, sedatives, or antidepressants. (Even some over the counter medicines can affect balance and how steady you are on your feet.) Vision problems Foot pain or poor footwear (high heels, floppy slippers, and shoes with slick soles should be avoided) Home hazards such as broken or uneven steps, throw rugs or clutter than can be tripped over, and no handrails in the stairways or bathrooms. Many falls can be prevented. Speaking with a physician, making your home safer, and increasing strength and balance can help reduce the risk for a fall. The Mayo Clinic, CDC, and Harvard Medical School recommend the following: Talk to Your Doctor Ask your healthcare provider to evaluate your risk for falling. Ask your doctor and pharmacist to review all your medications (prescription and over the counter) to see if any might make you sleepy or dizzy. Have your eyes checked by an eye doctor at least once a year and update glasses as necessary. Make Your Home Safer Remove boxes, newspapers, electrical cords, and phone cords from walkways. Move coffee tables, magazine racks, baskets, and plant stands from high traffic areas. Secure loose rugs with double-faced tape, tacks or a slip-resistant backing OR simply remove all loose rugs from the home. Repair loose, wooden floors and carpet. Store clothing, dishes, food and other necessities within easy reach. Install railings on both sides of stair ways and grab bars inside and outside of tubs and showers as well as next to the toilet. Place night lights in bedroom, bathroom, and hallways. Place a lamp within reach of bed for middle of the night needs. Turn on the lights before going up or down stairs. Store flashlights in easy to find places in case of power outages. Increase Your Strength and Balance Note: Consult with your doctor before starting any exercise program. Consider physical therapy for the balance system. Gentle exercises like a pelvic tilt or leg lift can increase strength. Tai Chi, Silver Sneakers, Matter of Balance, and Yoga help with control and the quality of movement. All three types of exercise help with balance, range of motion, leg and core strength, and reflexes. Contact 335-4359 for local programs. Ask a physician if a cane or walker would complement your balance and offer more stability. Locally, the Genesee Valley Health Partnership, the Livingston County Office for the Aging, and the Medical Reserve Corps in cooperation with Noyes Health are sponsoring the 3rd Annual Fall Prevention Workshop on Friday, September 16, 2016 from 9:00 am to 12:30 pm at the Lakeville Training Grounds in Lakeville. This free event will highlight several fall prevention experts and includes refreshments. Attendees will learn strategies and skills to prevent falls in the home and connect with local resources and agencies. Registration is required. To register, please call Noyes Health Community Outreach Services at 335-4359 or email Lorraine Wichtowski is a community health educator at Noyes Health in Dansville. If you have questions or suggestions for future articles she can be reached at or 585-335-4327. ... Read More

August 18, 2016

Your Child’s Vision

The world is getting blurry, fuzzy, and out of focus. Literally, we are not seeing as well as we did in the past. According to a May, 2016 article in the American Academy of Ophthalmology Journal, 50% of the world’s population, nearly 5 billion people will be myopic by the year 2050. Currently, 30% of the U.S. population struggles with myopia (nearsightedness). Overall, 40% of Americans need glasses to correct their vision. Children are not exempt from this malady. The American Academy of Opthamology (AAO) reports more than a third of U.S. children ages 12 to 17 are nearsighted, a sharp increase from the 1970s when only 24% in this age group had myopia. Researchers don’t know exactly all the reasons this is occurring but they suspect lifestyle changes are the culprit. Studies indicate that decreased time outdoors and increased near work activities, particularly computer, tablet, and cell phone use are to blame. The American Optometric Association (AOA) reports that 80% of the learning a child does occurs through his or her eyes. Good vision is necessary for reading, writing, music, art, sports, and more. Vision is more than just seeing clearly. The eyes work together with the brain to recognize, comprehend, and retain information. To effectively read and learn for instance, the eyes focus in on words, help us track sentences across and down a page, and work together to judge distances and spaces. In addition, as a child progresses through K-12, the eyes have a greater workload. With each successive grade, there is more reading, more computer work, smaller print, and increased homework and study time. Bottom line, good vision is critical for school work and success. If glasses or contacts are needed, specialists say the earlier, the better. When a vision problem is detected and treated in its early stages, it is more likely the treatment will be successful. Vision can change frequently during the school years so regular eye and vision care is important. Sadly, many children never have their eyes checked. The AAO states almost 40% of children in the U.S. have never undergone a vision screening. The school year starts in just a few short weeks and it is a great time to schedule a comprehensive exam. It is recommended that a child receive an eye examination at least once every two years – more frequently if there are specific problems or risk factors. It is important to note that school and pediatric vision screening may only test for distance visual acuity. Furthermore, children often do not recognize vision problems; they think everyone sees as they do and it is normal. The AOA and the AAO suggest the following signs may indicate your child has a vision problem: Frequent eye rubbing or blinking Short attention span Avoiding reading and other close activities Frequent headaches Covering one eye Tilting the head to one side Holding reading materials close to the face An eye turning in or out Seeing double Losing place when reading Difficulty remembering what he or she read Squinting when looking in the distance Sitting to close to the TV To learn more about children and vision, check out these websites: American Optometric Association - American Academy of Opthamology - National Eye Institute - To help a child in your life learn more about vision in a fun, creative way, log onto: Lorraine Wichtowski is a community health educator at Noyes Health in Dansville. If you have questions or suggestions for future articles she can be reached at or 585-335-4327. ... Read More

August 17, 2016


Brae Burn Golf Course welcomed teams of golfers from around the area to the second annual Kyle Button Golf Tournament on Saturday, August 6. The event raised more than $11,000 for the Ann and Carl Myers Cancer Center, currently under construction on the campus of Noyes Hospital in Dansville. The tournament honors the memory of Dansville teacher Kyle Button who, at age 30, lost his battle with Stage 4 colon cancer in January of 2015. “We are grateful to Kyle’s wife Lynne and his son Matthew for allowing us to share Kyle’s story,” said Noyes Health Foundation chair Jon Shay. “Kyle knew the Cancer Center was coming and was so supportive of it. He knew that it will make things easier for his friends and neighbors seeking cancer treatment.” Shay also thanked the many local businesses who sponsored the event and continue to support the Cancer Center’s construction. The Ann and Carl Myers Cancer Center, under construction on the campus of Noyes Hospital in Dansville, is a collaborative project between Wilmot Cancer Institute, Jones Memorial Hospital, and Noyes Health. When completed in early 2017, it will provide patients in the Finger Lakes, Southern Tier, and Western New York more convenient access to comprehensive, state-of-the art cancer care. Established with a $2 million gift from Ann and Carl Myers, the $5.8 million project features a 4,500 square foot radiation oncology clinic and a 2,300 square foot medical oncology clinic. The regional cancer center will also provide patients with access to advanced diagnostic testing, clinical trials, outpatient palliative care, and Wilmot Cancer Institute’s Judy DiMarzo Cancer Survivorship Program. Physicians at the cancer center and the medical oncology clinic at Jones will have access to UR Medicine’s region-wide electronic medical record system and regular consultations with multidisciplinary teams focused on cancer. To donate, go to and click on the “Make a Donation” button. For more information visit, Noyes Health Facebook Page or contact Mary Sue Dehn, Director of PR/Foundation, or 585-335-4323. ... Read More

August 14, 2016

Back to School Stress Busters

Whether you have a kindergartner or college student, the annual back to school preparations and schedule can be stressful. Financial, social, and emotional stresses can tax parents and kiddos alike. Financially, there are school supplies and clothes to be purchased. Socially, students may be prepping themselves to say goodbye to old friends and meet new ones. Emotionally, students, parents, and even grandparents may be dealing with separation anxiety and fear of the unknown. At the same time, the beginning of the school year brings promise and hope. It is an exciting time full of new opportunities. Studies agree that organization, preparation, and mindset are important tools for a successful transition to the fall school-year schedule. Here are some tips for reducing stress and zoning in on the positive: Organization Organize clutter – A 2011 Princeton University study showed that “when the environment is cluttered, the chaos restricts your ability to focus and limits your brain’s capacity to process information.” Basically, when too much stuff is on the counters, tables, and floors, your brain gets cluttered and you get stressed. Before school starts, conquer the clutter. Make a schedule and tackle a different room (or counter, etc.) each day. First, determine what to save, what to throw out, what to recycle, and what to donate. Second, take the saved items and find a home for them in boxes, on shelves, on hooks, or in bins. Develop a daily to-do chart for all family members – Even the youngest students can “read” a picture chart and participate in the daily responsibilities. Before the school year starts, determine the chore list for each person in the household and post it on the refrigerator or on each child’s door with their duties highlighted. Duties may include: make lunch, lay out clothes for next day, prepare backpack, clean off counters, wash sports uniform, etc. Work ahead for healthy snacks and lunches – Once a week, prepare foods into single servings sizes for on the go healthy snacks and lunches. For example, prepare single serving size baggies of carrots, celery, peppers, nuts, trail mix, or whole wheat crackers and cheese. Place them eye level and toward the front of the refrigerator for easy access when packing lunches and sport bags. Preparation Start early to prevent sleep loss – Everyone needs proper sleep to function well. Preschoolers, ages 3-5, need 10-13 hours of sleep per night. School-aged children, 6 to 13 year olds, need 9 to 11 hours and teens need 9 – 9.5 hours of snooze time. The reality is most families are relaxed about bed time during the summer. To avoid sleep deprivation and stress, begin going to bed earlier and getting up a tad earlier (mimic the school week schedule) starting two to three weeks before school starts. Being well rested will help keep everyone’s stress levels down. Do a walk-through – Visit the school and if possible teachers before the start of school. Take fear of the unknown out of the equation by visiting the hallways, lunchroom, and even bathrooms. If your child knows what to expect, he or she will be less anxious. Prepare a good breakfast every morning – A complete, balanced breakfast will energize you and your child for the day to come. Yogurt with berries and nuts or granola topping, eggs with wheat toast and fruit, oatmeal with berries, or even leftover rice with an egg and veggies is a great way to start the day. Avoid sugary cereals and toaster pastries which spike blood sugar but don’t provide any long lasting nutrition for the morning. Mindset Present your most positive self – Even if you are anxious about seeing your little one (or college one) off, conceal your worries and present a positive attitude. Children pick up on anxiety. Lend a listening ear, support and encourage students as they head off to new waters. Embrace change as an opportunity – The new academic year is a time to grow and develop new skills. This change can draw out new creativity, talents, and abilities. Concentrate on the positive things to come from change (even if it is a bit anxiety provoking!) Listen first, talk second – Ask open ended questions such as “What are you most excited about?” or “You seem a little nervous. What about school concerns you the most?” And then listen. If your child expresses some negativity, don’t discount it. Acknowledge the feelings and then work toward finding solutions. This is often a great time to talk about how to handle bullies and peer pressure. Discuss at dinner – Children whose families eat together on a regular basis achieve greater social and academic success. The open conversation also promotes communication which helps to eliminate surprises thereby reducing stress. Dinner is the perfect time to discuss the day, laugh, and problem solve if necessary. Again, ask open-ended questions, “What was the best thing/silliest thing/grossest thing that happened at school today?” Lorraine Wichtowski is a community health educator at Noyes Health in Dansville. If you have questions or suggestions for future articles she can be reached at or 585-335-4327. ... Read More

August 5, 2016

Food | Not a Reward, Not a Punishment

As a young child, I remember sitting in the grocery cart kiddie seat each week as my mother grocery shopped. Most of the time I was expected to just sit there quietly but occasionally, mom would treat me to a box of animal crackers. I would make the little delectable critters last a good long time. The best part was telling a story about each animal before popping it in my mouth. Nowadays when I go to the grocery store, I often see one of three scenarios unfold: 1) a child is misbehaving and a parent bribes the child with food to acquire the desired behavior; 2) the child is behaving and the reward is food or 3) the child is misbehaving and food is withheld as a punishment. In all three cases, food is attached to the behavior. The message is behave in a certain way and food will come your way. Food for some has become a reward or a punishment instead of nourishment and something to be enjoyed with family and friends in community. Unfortunately, the child who expects a sweet for being good at the store at age 4 or 5 may become an adult who reaches for food as a reward for a long day at work. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, parents should not use food as a reward or punishment. Punishment by withholding foods can make a child anxious. In addition, children may turn the table on their parents and punish them by refusing to eat (certain foods), thereby gaining attention, and causing the parents to be anxious. Furthermore, attaching treats to a behavior can undermine healthy eating habits and interfere with a child’s natural ability to determine if he or she is full and satisfied or still hungry. Currently, one-third of children and adolescents ages 6-19 are overweight or obese. Promoting healthy eating habits and making mealtime fun with good conversation and laughter is an important step to turning those numbers around. When food is used as a reward for achieving good grades, eating everything on the plate, or picking up toys, there are consequences. The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) lists several consequences for using food rewards: It compromises classroom learning. Schools, child care centers, and even parents have nutrition programs. They extol the virtues of eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, veggies, whole grains, and lean proteins. These lessons are meaningless if they are contradicted by rewarding children with sweets. The state of Connecticut Department of Education states, “It’s like saying, “You need to eat healthy foods to feel and do your best, but when you behave or perform your best, you will be rewarded with unhealthy food.” It contributes to poor health. When food is presented as a reward, children are more apt to learn a preference for sweet foods and junk foods. Cookies, candy, and junk food all contribute to health problems including childhood obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and cavities. It encourages overconsumption of unhealthy foods. Foods used as rewards often are high in sugar, fat, sodium, and calories. By associating these foods with celebration of even the smallest achievements, children learn to grab these foods as a default mode as they head toward adulthood. It contributes to the path to adult obesity. Statistically, children, who are rewarded frequently with food, are more prone to be overweight or obese adults. The associations are strong and hard to break. Educators have long used rewards in the classroom to motivate students. Parents have used refrigerator charts to track good behavior. Coaches have dangled “carrots” in front of players. You don’t have to do away with rewards. The key is combining motivational strategies with occasional, healthy rewards. The CSPI offers the following examples of beneficial, inexpensive rewards for children: Social rewards – praise, thanks, big hugs, nods, smiles, winks, high fives Recognition – little notes in the lunchbox, school paper tacked to the refrigerator, a special homemade ribbon or “certificate” Privileges – extra story time at night, play date with friends, playing an educational game on the computer, special outing on the weekend, child’s choice for movie or music Family rewards – game night, dancing together, hiking, playing outside together(everyone!), eating on a picnic blanket together, family reading time, art/craft time, puzzle time Stuff – little things like school supplies, toys, and trinkets – do this in moderation. Experts agree that the most effective rewards for children are time related not thing related. To learn more about alternatives to food rewards, check out these websites: Connecticut Department of Education Center for Science in the Public Interest Lorraine Wichtowski is a community health educator at Noyes Health in Dansville. If you have questions or suggestions for future articles she can be reached at or 585-335-4327. ... Read More

July 28, 2016

Breastfeeding – Benefits for Child and Mom

This August marks the first anniversary of the Healthy Baby Café at the Genesee Community College campus on Clara Barton Street in Dansville. To celebrate, the Healthy Baby Café will be hosting a drop-in open house on Thursday, August 11th from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the GCC campus in Dansville. There will be light refreshments and a chance to win a gift basket. The celebration is open to anyone interested in breastfeeding including expectant moms, moms, and anyone who supports them. The café, open every Thursday from 1 pm – 3 pm, is a social place for anyone interested in knowing more about breastfeeding support and education. The effort coordinated by the Livingston County Department of Health and Noyes Health is designed to help women breastfeed and understand the benefits to both mom and child. Breastfeeding isn’t always easy but with education and support, most women can be successful. Two certified lactation consultants, experts in breastfeeding, are present at the Baby Café each week to assist moms and answer their questions. All of this is part of a New York State initiative to promote exclusive and sustained breastfeeding. Organizations including the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American College of Nurse-Midwives recommend exclusively breastfeeding for the first six months of life and continuing to breastfeed to twelve months as new foods are introduced. Breastfeeding or feeding expressed human milk provides optimal growth. It is the perfect mix of fat, sugar, water, and protein for brain and body development. In addition, it is scientifically well-established that breastfeeding has several other health benefits. The AAP and CDC support and promote breastfeeding as it protects against a variety of diseases and conditions. Research suggests that breastfed babies are at lower risk of: Bacteremia (bacteria in the blood) Diarrhea Respiratory tract infections Necrotizing enterocolitis (infection and inflammation of the bowel wall) Otitis media (ear infection) Urinary tract infections Late onset sepsis in preterm infants Type 1 and type 2 diabetes in later childhood Lymphoma, leukemia, and Hodgkin’s disease Childhood overweight and obesity Moms also benefit from breastfeeding. Mothers often feel relaxed and fulfilled when breastfeeding due to the release of a hormone called oxytocin. This hormone helps with milk production and uterine contractions (both during and after delivery.) In addition, oxytocin is known as a social bonding hormone. When it is released into the mom’s system during breastfeeding, she gets warm feelings of love for her child. It basically aids the bonding process between mother and child. While the emotional connection is fantastic, moms also benefit from breastfeeding physically. Health benefits for mom include: Quicker and easier recovery after childbirth. Oxytocin, released during breastfeeding, acts to return the uterus to its regular size more quickly and can reduce postpartum bleeding. Research indicates that women who have breastfed experience reduced rates of breast and ovarian cancer later in life. Decreased menstrual blood loss and increased child spacing. Earlier return to pre-pregnancy weight. Breastfeeding also provides economic benefits. It is the most economical way to feed an infant. Except for the cost of added nutritional food for the mother, the cost is $0. Breast pumps are now provided by WIC and the Affordable Care Act requires health plans to provide breastfeeding support, counseling, and equipment for the duration of breastfeeding. Insurance policies vary so a woman interested in a breast pump should call her insurance company for specifics. Infant formulas range in price and also require bottles and sterilized water. Depending on the chosen formula, costs can range anywhere from approximately, $1500 to $3000 per year. The added health benefits also lower health care costs as much as $475 per infant during the first year of life. To learn more about breastfeeding, visit one of these sites: New York State WIC at: American Academy of Pediatrics at: Office on Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services at: Livingston County resources include: Noyes Health OB nurses, the Baby Café, and breastfeeding classes. For more information, call either Noyes Health at 585-335-4249 or the Livingston County Department of Health at 585-243-7299. Lorraine Wichtowski is a community health educator at Noyes Health in Dansville. If you have questions or suggestions for future articles she can be reached at or 585-335-4327. ... Read More

July 28, 2016

Look Good Feel Good Event

Cancer can rob a woman of her energy, appetite, and strength. But it doesn’t have to take away her self-confidence. Look Good Feel Better is a FREE program that teaches beauty techniques to women in active cancer treatment. The workshop includes skincare, makeup application, nail care and accessory style tips. Every woman will receive a complementary makeup kit to take home. The next Look Good Feel Better session is on Monday, August 29th from 10 am to noon in conference room D at Noyes Health hospital in Dansville. Registration is required, please call 1-800-227-2345. ... Read More

July 21, 2016

Benefits of Volunteering

Some of the best times in life occur when you volunteer – not because you have to but because you want to. One of my first experiences volunteering was as a teen. I worked at a camp for developmentally disabled young adults. My job was to be a friend and basically play in the pool (tough job!). As is the case with so many volunteer activities, I gained and learned more from the campers than they gained or learned from me. The work while fun was exhausting but I distinctly remember coming home every night with a smile on my face and a great camper story to share. The mental health benefits of volunteering are well-researched and documented. Research now confirms that volunteering is good for your physical health as well. Volunteering for altruistic reasons, that is for the benefit of others not out of obligation or to pad your resume, has significant social and mental health benefits. According to a report from the Corporation for National and Community Service, “volunteer activities can strengthen the social ties that protect individuals from isolation during difficult times, while the experience of helping others leads to a sense of greater self-worth and trust.” Several studies agree in their findings that volunteering is correlated with lower rates of depression, a greater sense of purpose, and higher self-esteem. In addition, a 2000 East Carolina Study found that older volunteers, in particular, experience greater life satisfaction and greater positive changes in their perceived health as a result of volunteer activities. Not only does perceived health improve, studies now show that actual physical health is positively correlated with volunteering. The Assets and Health Dynamics Among the Oldest Old Study found a correlation between volunteering and better health and lower mortality rates. Those who volunteered for at least 100 hours per year were two-thirds as likely as non-volunteers to report bad health, and also one-third as likely to die. Besides longevity, volunteering seems to help with chronic pain and blood pressure. A 2002 study, found those who suffered from chronic pain experienced declines in their pain intensity and decreased levels of disability and depression when they began to serve as peer volunteers for others also suffering from chronic pain. Furthermore, a 2013 study from Carnegie Mellon University, found adults over age 50 who volunteered on a regular basis were less likely to develop high blood pressure than non-volunteers. It is important to note that all these studies are correlational. We cannot say volunteering is directly responsible for any of these benefits; however, study after study finds a positive relationship between volunteering and good health. There can be no doubt that volunteering is a win-win for society – good for the volunteers and good for the recipients. One interesting finding is that there appears to be a benefit threshold. Two studies based on data collected from the Assets and Health Dynamics Among the Oldest Old report found that the volunteering threshold is 100 hours per year, or about two hours per week. According to the authors, “typically, no or little relationship was found between volunteering and positive health outcomes when an individual engaged in less than 100 hours per year. There did not appear to be any additional benefits to health as the number of volunteer hours increased beyond 100 hours.” The Americans’ Changing Lives survey found that a more moderate level of volunteering was necessary for health benefits. Those individuals who volunteered at least 40 hours per year, as well as those who volunteered with just one organization or group, had the lowest risk of mortality. The moral of the story, volunteer one to two hours per week for an organization or group you care about in order to reap the most health benefits. The possibilities are endless. Volunteer opportunities include nursing homes, hospitals, daycares, food pantries, civic and church organizations, animal shelters, education/literacy programs, gardening, housekeeping, home maintenance/repair, telephone calling, crafts, and more. There is something for everyone. Consider volunteering. You can’t beat the pay – smiles, satisfaction, and better health! Lorraine Wichtowski is a community health educator at Noyes Health in Dansville. If you have questions or suggestions for future articles she can be reached at or 585-335-4327. ... Read More

July 19, 2016

Dansville Lions Club Donation to Noyes

Dansville Lions Club members Mike Cloonan and Barry Haywood visited Noyes Health July 13 to present a $2000 donation to the Ann and Carl Myers Cancer Center project. Accepting the donation were Noyes Health Foundation Chairman Jon Shay, Noyes Health President/CEO Amy Pollard and Noyes Health Director of Public Relations and Foundation Mary Sue Dehn. The check is part of Dansville Lions Club’s multi-year commitment to support the Cancer Center, which is expected to open early next year. PICTURED (L. to R.): Noyes Health President/CEO Amy Pollard, Dansville Lions Club President Mike Cloonan, Dansville Lions Club Member Barry Haywood, Noyes Health Foundation Chairman Jon Shay and Noyes Health Director of Public Relations and Foundation Mary Sue Dehn. For more information visit, Noyes Health Facebook Page or contact Mary Sue Dehn, Director of PR/Foundation or 585-335-4323. ... Read More

July 15, 2016

Making Sense of Salt

And the food debates continue…eat eggs, don’t eat eggs, eat eggs…butter out, margarine in, nope wait, olive oil in! Now add to the list, confusion over salt (sodium). A recent study published in The Lancet reported that a low salt diet was associated with increased risk for heart disease and death. Whoa, hold the presses, what? Haven’t we been told for years that a low salt diet is associated with better health? It can be frustrating to read headlines that contradict everything we’ve been told for the last decade or more. To sort out the confusion, several doctors analyzed The Lancet report and then looked at the evidence from several other major respected and well-researched studies. Their conclusion recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine was that The Lancet study was flawed in a number of ways. Their suggestion based on an overwhelming amount of evidence – keep holding the salt. For the majority, lower sodium levels will significantly improve blood pressure and heart health. Over the last 40 years, the average sodium intake has increased dramatically and most Americans consume way too much. The average American consumes more than 3,400 milligrams of sodium each day. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends people eat no more than 1,500 milligrams per day. The CDC and the American Diabetes Association suggest consuming less than 2,300 mg sodium per day. While the numbers vary a bit, everyone agrees that minimally cutting back to 2,300 mg or less will significantly improve blood pressure and heart health for many people. The 2009-2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey looked at almost 15,000 participants. They found 89% of adults and over 90% of children exceeded the recommended daily allowances for sodium. Among hypertensive adults (those with high blood pressure), 86% exceeded the 2,300 mg threshold. Here is what we know. High sodium intake contributes to high rates of blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke. And while everyone’s individual body chemistry is different, the majority of people will benefit from a low sodium diet, rich in fruits, veggies, whole grains, and lean meats as opposed to a high-sodium processed food diet. Nearly 400,000 deaths per year are attributed to high blood pressure and decreasing sodium levels could prevent some of these deaths. Keeping tabs on your sodium intake is one piece of the prevention puzzle. But who knows how much salt they eat? It turns out not too many people. Most folks underestimate how much they take in, if they can estimate at all. The AHA surveyed 1,000 adults and found that 33% could not estimate how much sodium they ate; and another 54% thought they were eating less than 2,000 mg sodium a day (but they weren’t!). We estimate poorly because 75% of our sodium comes from processed, prepackaged, and restaurant foods – not from the salt shaker. In addition, not all processed foods are created equal so one slice of frozen cheese pizza can range from 450 mg to 1200mg. So where do you start? The American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association, and the CDC offer the following information and tips: Six popular foods can add high levels of sodium to your diet including: bread and rolls, cold cuts and cured meats, pizza, poultry (sodium varies depending on preparation methods), canned soups and broths, and sandwiches/burgers from fast food restaurants. Check labels to find lower sodium varieties. Many of the large chain restaurants include nutrition facts on their menus or websites. Consider using a sodium tracker, either a paper/pencil type or an app. Buy fresh, frozen (no sauce), or no salt added canned vegetables. Use fresh poultry or pork (with no saline or salt solution added), fish, and lean meat. Read labels and buy low sodium, lower sodium, reduced sodium, or no salt added versions of products. For example, compare ½ cup serving sizes of three types of Delmonte diced tomatoes: Regular diced tomatoes – 130 mg sodium – 5% of daily allowance Diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano – 350 mg sodium – 15% of daily allowance No-salt added diced tomatoes – 15 mg sodium – 1% of daily allowance Limit your use of mixes and “instant” products, including flavored rice and ready-made pasta in a can. Before heading out to dinner, check to see if the restaurant lists nutrition facts on its website. Request that no salt be added to your food. Beware of hidden sources of sodium such as salad dressings, marinades, spaghetti sauce, taco sauce, teriyaki sauce, salsa, ketchup, and barbeque sauce. Watch out for pickled foods such as pickles, relish, and sauerkraut. One pickle wedge can have 500 mg of sodium. Read the label first and eat these occasionally. Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits. They have no added sodium! One final note, some people do need a bit more sodium in their diets. According to the AHA, the 1,500 mg guideline does not apply to people who lose big amounts of sodium in sweat, like competitive athletes, and workers exposed to major heat, such as foundry workers, fire fighters, or outdoor workers in the summer, or to those directed otherwise by their physician. Talk with your doctor if you have any questions or concerns about your sodium levels. For more information on sodium, try these websites: American Heart Association at CDC at American Diabetes Association at Lorraine Wichtowski is a community health educator at Noyes Health in Dansville. If you have questions or suggestions for future articles she can be reached at or 585-335-4327. ... Read More