Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Finding Potassium

I love researching things about health and nutrition.  It’s amazing to learn about how what we eat can help some ailment we are having.

Last week while we were in Chicagoland, I was talking with my dad about his back pain.  At night his legs get a Charlie horse type of feeling – without pain.  It sounded an awful lot like being pregnant.  I remember when I was pregnant feeling like I understood what it felt like to be old.  So much of what you experience is similar to being elderly.  Tired all the time, out of breath, achy, back pain, swelling, clumsy, onset of Alzheimer – like symptoms, etc.

I could go on about that for hours. 
Here is my dad on the left - celebrating 80 with some brother-in-law's!

Back to the elderly.  My dad is really getting no help from the doctors.  Being, well, elderly, he puts all of his trust into the docs.  It's just how he was raised.  He doesn't question what they say.  He truly looks to them for help.  It’s such a shame b/c doctors aren't equipped to help with all our ailments.  Their profession is so misunderstood.  Our mismatched expectations of our doctors takes our own burden of responsibility off of our plates.  I’m constantly working with my parents on this and it kills me that I’m not nearby to take them to their appointments and help them make sense of what the doctors know and what they need to find out for themselves.

I digress.

I decided that one thing my dad could do on his own, without harming himself, would be to try to get more potassium.  If it works for pregnancy, it’s worth a try, right?

So here goes.

Foods High in Potassium
Tomato Paste
Beet Greens (yum! Not kidding- cook them like spinach – they are so yummy)
Condensed Milk (What????)
White Beans
Baked Potato
Tomato puree

Farther down the list is Trail Mix,  Sweet Potato, boiled Spinach, French Fries, Dried Apricots, Carrot Juice….and THEN Banana. 

Isn’t that crazy?  I thought Bananas were so high in potassium.  Yet they’re like 23rd on the list. And my dad eats ½ a banana.  Not enough to replenish, my friend. Not enough.

Here’s more information on potassium
Low potassium levels (hypokalemia), can cause weakness as cellular processes are impaired.
Potassium is a mineral (electrolyte) in the body. Almost 98% of potassium is found inside the cells. Small changes in the level of potassium that is present outside the cells can have severe effects on the heart, nerves, and muscles.
Potassium is important to maintain several bodily functions:
                Muscles need potassium to contract.

                The heart muscle needs potassium to beat properly and regulate blood pressure.

The kidney is the main organ that controls the balance of potassium by removing excess potassium into the urine.
When potassium levels are low (hypokalemia), you can become weak as cellular processes are impaired.
                The normal potassium level is 3.5-5.0 mEq/L (mEq/L stand for milliequivalents per liter of blood and this is a measure used to evaluate the level). Low potassium is defined as a potassium level below 3.5 mEq/L.

Almost one out of five people hospitalized in the United States has a low potassium level.

If I have anything to do with it, it's not going to be my dad! He has tractors to ride and grandkids to hang out with!

Keeping it real! Kathy

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