Tag Archives: stroke

The Truth about Salt

Even if you think you eat a low salt diet, you’ll be surprised at how much added salt has entered our food chain, cautions Dr. Renu Lalwani, Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine at Columbia University.

Salt, especially lowly table salt, is one of the most misunderstood foods. For many years now we’ve blamed salt for causing cardiovascular diseases – high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. But even as health conscious humans avoid the lure of table salt, the real culprit sneaks past, entering our foodchain, disrupting our diets, damaging our health, because many of us fail to recognize the actual troublemaker – added salt in processed foods we love to consume.

How much salt do we need and how much do we actually eat?

Our body needs only 1/4 teaspoon of salt every day. Guidelines recommend less than 2000 (2.0grams) of salt a day. Each teaspoon of table salt contains almost 2300 milligrams of sodium and, on average, we eat five or more teaspoons of salt each day.

Five teaspoons of salt is 20 times more than our body needs for an entire day!

popcorn

We get most of our sodium from table salt, but cooked, packaged and processed foods contain added salt – the main source of sodium in our diet.

burgers

 

 

 

 

To put that in perspective – just one McDonald’s Quarter Pounder with Cheese = about 1190 mg of sodium. That’s one day’s worth of salt intake!

pretzels

In fact, the added salt we unwittingly consume eating out regularly or eating processed foods quickly adds up. The offenders are the most unlikely suspects -bread, pasta, cheese, chips, cereals, sauces, salad dressings, cake mixes, deli-meats, frozen foods, baking powder, canned food and even canned milk.

It’s really quite easy to exceed the recommended daily intake faster than using a saltshaker to enhance flavor.

 

The Benefits of Low Sodium

  • If you have high blood pressure, chronic kidney disease or heart failure – cut sodium intake to 1500 to 1800 mg per day to lower blood pressure
  • If you suffer from borderline hypertension – reduce sodium intake and try to lose weight to remove the need for medications and reduce the risk of heart disease
  • If you have chronic kidney disease and heart failure, it will help reduce or prevent fluid retention – swollen legs, or fluid congestion in the lungs
  • Lower sodium intake can help to reverse heart enlargement and dilatation in patients with heart disease and heart failure
  • Low sodium has been associated with lower risk of dying from a stroke, and can reduce the risk of kidney stones and osteoporosis.

Eat fresh – that’s the simple answer. Most fresh foods – unprocessed meats, fish, grains, lentils, beans, vegetables and fruit have a low sodium content and are better for you.

What do sodium labels actually mean?

  • Very low sodium means: 35 mg or less per serving
  • Low sodium means: 140 mg or less per serving
  • Reduced sodium: sodium is reduced by 25% of usual level
  • Light or lite in sodium: sodium is reduced by 50% of usual level

If you enjoy the taste of salt in your food, cutting down is a challenge, but do try to make healthier food choices.

Salt is an acquired taste and you can retrain your taste buds to enjoy low salt food very quickly. Once they do, most people find that they do not miss salt as much.

The information presented in this article is offered for educational and informational purposes only and should not be construed as personal medical advice. You should consult with your personal physician/care giver regarding your own medical care.

Meera Kymal is a contributing editor to India Currents

photo credit: spoony mushroom <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/42875348@N00/3519933048″>shake me</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a>

Ask a Lawyer – When Aging Parents Need Help With Legal Affairs

If you immigrated to America and have aging parents in India, you are facing a common dilemma – how to help parents who are increasingly unable to manage their own affairs. These complicated situations could happen unexpectedly, so be prepared in advance to face questions like these:

How do I manage the property or assets of an elderly parent impaired by illness, typically, stroke or dementia?

How do I arrange funds for healthcare? I find it difficult to transfer money between India and the U.S.

What do I do about making critical healthcare decisions like putting my parents on a ventilator or proceeding with surgery ?

What You Need to Do in India

Create a Joint Account

  •  Ensure that all bank accounts and other property holdings of your parents are joint, with the ability to sign in a “either or survivor” capacity. This also applies to safety deposit boxes. 
  • Frequently, these are held jointly by two parents to begin with, and then become singly-held upon one of them passing. It is helpful to have an additional holder who is fully functional at all times.

Establish Nominees and Power of Attorney

  • Appoint a nominee for each account, so that someone can access the accounts if the main account holder passes away.
  • Prepare a power of attorney and if possible submit it with the bank. This will allow the person with the power of attorney to operate the accounts, investments or safety deposit boxes.
  • Check with the bank to find out if they accept a power of attorney for the account in question what language needs to be used.
  • Ensure that there is a general power of attorney allowing someone to handle the parent’s affairs, including matters relating to real estate (which may require specific power of attorney – please check with a lawyer).  This way, sales of houses and other property are easier to manage.
  • Banks in India have their own rules and restrictions about who can be a signatory, or nominee or a power of attorney holder on an account, so consult with senior bankers or finance planners.

Prepare a ‘Valid’ Will and a Living Will

  • Make sure that there is a valid will which clarifies the property division. Also, investigate the possibility of having a “living will” which specifies the person’s wishes in terms of their health care.

Keep Visas Current

  • Ensure that the parent living in India has a valid visa to travel to the United States should the need arise.  
  • More importantly, make sure that you, a US resident, who might have to travel to India suddenly, have a valid visa at all times. 
  • If you have recently obtained US citizenship, please apply for an Indian visa on an expedited basis.

Access to Cash Flow

  • Ensure that there is access to cash flow, since Indian hospitals often need significant advance payments. 
  • Check with your banks here in the US and in India about money transfers and ensure you have processes in place should the need arise. 

Tax Implications

  • There may be tax implications in the US with having your name on bank accounts or other investments in India. You may be required to file tax returns in India. Please talk to a tax advisor or accountant in both places.
  • It’s good practice to consult with a lawyer, especially with respect to estate planning and wills.
  • In certain circumstances, it may make sense to get advice from estate planning experts, both in India and in the US. Tax considerations and implications on cross border assets can be complex and extensive.

 

What You Need to Do in the U.S.

Bank Accounts

  •  Ensure that there are multiple signatories on bank accounts, investments accounts, safety deposit boxes etc. who can sign individually (not jointly). 
  •  If, for any reason, this is not possible, provide a power of attorney to a trustworthy person, who can operate accounts and manage assets should the person become incapacitated.

Prepare the following Wills and Establish Power of Attorney

  • A will (which provides for a division of assets upon passing) 
  • A living will, which specifies who is in charge of medical care and decision making should the patient be incapable of making decisions and also provides guidance on the patient’s care preferences, such as the extent to which life support can be used 
  • Seek advice from asset planning professionals, accountants and attorneys, both, for the parent as well as the child/caregiver. The will and other documents may need to be structured in very specific ways.
  • Power of attorney, which provides power to another person to manage the affairs even within their lifetime, should they become incapacitated).  
  • File the power of attorney with a bank so that there are no complications at the time of usage.  

Tax Implications

  • There are several tax disclosure and payment requirements in the US. The US taxes its residents on their worldwide income and needs declarations of their assets worldwide. Please take this into consideration and consult a tax professional for advice.

 

This article is intended for informational purposes only. Individual circumstances differ for everyone. It is always advisable to get professional advice specifically suited to your circumstances.

Svati Kania Shashank is a lawyer practicing in New York for over 20 years. 

Edited by India Currents Contributing Editor, Meera Kymal