Study shows how high-sodium diet increases blood pressure

Study shows how high-sodium diet increases blood pressure High salt consumption has long been linked to cardiovascular disease, but it is only now that scientists are learning about some of the mechanisms behind the phenomenon.

An international group of researchers from Germany, Austria and Finland has discovered that under normal physiological conditions excess salt is accumulated in a "storage area" within the skin.

In laboratory tests, they noticed that animals fed a high-salt diet accumulated salt in the interstitium in the skin, a process that is regulated by white blood cells called the macrophages.

They subsequently showed that when these macrophages are depleted or the gene that controls their production is absent, the animals are not able to store salt and become hypertensive, or experience higher blood pressure, a condition which can lead to health complications including stroke.

The study provides yet another piece of evidence of why low-sodium diets are better for long term health.

In addition to dietary regimes and regular exercise, other pressure-lowering natural remedies include nutritional supplements containing fish oil, which may also reduce the risk of heart disease.
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San Diego County Backs Off Threat to Shut Down Bible Study

Score one, at least temporarily, for the First Amendment, which has been revived after what seemed a death blow in California.

In San Diego, county officials have reneged on their demand that a preacher and his wife discontinue weekly Bible studies in their home until they obtain a Major Use Permit, a process that costs tens of thousands of dollars.

According to news reports out of San Diego, Pastor David Jones and his wife Mary were interrogated by a county official and then threatened with increasing fines if they continued holding their Tuesday night Bible studies. The studies regularly drew about 15 people.

Attorney Dean Broyles of The Western Center for Law and Policy told 10 News television the county official asked:

  • Do you have a regular meeting in your home?
  • Do you say amen?
  • Do you pray?
  • Do you say “Praise the Lord?”

They answered in the affirmative on all four questions. The official then told the couple they were in violation of county regulations. A few days later they received a written warning that listed “unlawful use of land” and told them to “stop religious assembly or apply for a major use permit,” according to Broyles.

Reports of the county’s actions drew howls of protest from liberty-minded groups and received a lot of attention in the blogosphere, as well they should. As a group, government bureaucrats lack any kind of common sense. That one would attempt to shut down a home Bible study demonstrates a lack of understanding or lack of education about our country’s founding and what led to the establishment of our nation’s Bill of Rights.

The hue and cry from freedom-loving Americans obviously worked. On May 29, County Chief Administrative Officer Walt Ekard issued a statement saying the Bible study could continue.

“I have received dozens of emails and calls from people concerned about reports that the county is attempting to muzzle religious expression by shutting down a neighborhood Bible study. As chief administrative officer for San Diego County, I want to say in the most direct terms: the county has never tried to stifle religious expression and never will,” Ekard said.

“More importantly, let me be clear: religious intolerance in any form is not, and never will be, allowed under any circumstance in San Diego County government,” he said.

As encouraging as it is that the county reversed itself, nothing in Ekard’s statement addresses the questions asked by a county official about what the Joneses were doing in their home.

It’s none of the county’s business what the Joneses were doing in their home, and the questions about whether they were saying amen, praying and praising the Lord should have been answered with a slammed door.

So, religious freedom in America has withstood, for now at least, another attack. But stay vigilant. The agents of tyranny are persistent.

They Signed for Us

Every schoolchild in America knows why we celebrate the Fourth of July. Flags and fireworks commemorate the day we declared our independence from Britain.

On July 4, 1776, after months of heated debate, representatives of the Continental Congress voted unanimously that, “These United Colonies are and of right ought to be Free and Independent States.”

Thirteen colonies voted to become something new in history—the United States of America. Now, all they had to do was to win their independence from a government that would consider them traitors.

Fifty-six men bravely affixed their signatures to the Declaration of Independence. What sort of men were they? And what became of them?

Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists, 11 were merchants, nine were farmers or plantation owners. They were well-educated men of means. All of them had a great deal to lose when they voted to defy what was then the most powerful nation on earth. Yet they willingly risked everything when they pledged to each other “our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”

As I said, all of us can explain why we celebrate Independence Day on July 4th. But how many of us can name even a handful of the signers of the Declaration of Independence? What do we know, really, about the men who risked their lives, and everything they owned, in the cause of freedom?

Because the story of the signers is so inspiring, we’ve arranged a special treat for you today—a free copy of a wonderful little book called They Signed For Us.

Half a century ago two patriotic ladies in the Midwest wanted to help others learn more about the remarkable men who signed the Declaration. Merle Sinclair and Annabel Douglas McArthur wrote a delightful book about the events of that time, including a history of each of the signers. They called it, They Signed For Us.

At the end of today’s column you’ll find a link that will take you to a copy of the book. You may read it online or download it and print your own copy. The file also includes a list of all of the signers and the states they represented, plus the complete text of the Declaration of Independence.

To whet your appetite a bit, here’s an excerpt from They Signed For Us.

“SUDDENLY THE BIG BELL in the State House steeple pealed joyously. The appointed signal! Cheers rose from the waiting crowds.

“‘Proclaim liberty throughout the land….’

“Cannon boomed, drums rolled. Church bells rang, sounding the death knell of British domination!

“News of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence spread like wildfire. Ready messengers leaped into their saddles to ride and spread the word. The Declaration had been ordered printed on a single large sheet, ‘45.5 x 37.5 cm.,’ or approximately eighteen by fifteen inches. These broadsides were distributed with all possible speed, to be read in the provincial assemblies, pulpits, market places, and army camps.”

The story continues:

“On July 8, the Liberty Bell summoned citizens of Philadelphia to the State House yard for a public reading of the document. Colonel John Nixon mounted a high platform and spoke the noble lines in a strong, clear voice. The crowd, now hushed, listened intently throughout.

“‘…for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.’

It was almost a month later that the Declaration was engrossed on parchment and ready for signing by the delegates to the Continental Congress. Members gathered on August 2 for the ceremony.

The only person who had signed the Declaration on July 4 was John Hancock, a delegate from Boston who had been elected president of the Continental Congress. He wrote his signature in large, bold letters and as he did, in a reference to the near-sightedness of the British king, he declared, “There! John Bull can read my name without spectacles and may now double his reward of £500 for my head. That is my defiance.”

As the delegates gathered around a desk to sign the Declaration, William Emery, one of the representatives from Rhode Island, moved as close as he could. “I was determined to see how they all looked as they signed what might be their death warrants,” he later wrote. “I placed myself beside the secretary, Charles Thomson, and eyed each closely as he affixed his name to the document. Undaunted resolution was displayed on every countenance.”

Contrasting with Hancock’s confident signature was the shaky scratch of Stephen Hopkins from Rhode Island. Hopkins was the second-oldest signer and suffered from palsy. As he handed the quill to the next person, he valiantly proclaimed, “My hand trembles, but my heart does not!”

As one or two delegates hung back, seemingly reluctant to add their signatures to such a momentous declaration, John Hancock encouraged them. “We must be unanimous,” he said. “There must be no pulling different ways. We must all hang together.”

Legend has it that Benjamin Franklin replied, “Yes, we must all hang together. Or most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”

Happily, none of the signers was hanged by the British. But all of them were considered traitors to the Crown. And many of them suffered terribly for the cause they so ardently supported.

When New Jersey signer Richard Stockton returned to his home after signing the Declaration, he learned that British troops were coming to arrest him. He fled to a neighbor’s house with his wife and children. But a Loyalist, as supporters of the British cause were called, betrayed the family’s hiding place. Here is how Merle Sinclair and Annabel Douglas McArthur describe what happened to him:

“The judge was dragged from bed and beaten, then thrown into prison. This distinguished jurist, who had worn the handsome robes of a colonial court, now shivered in a common jail, abused and all but starved.

“A shocked Congress arranged for his parole. Invalided by the harsh treatment he had received, he returned to [his home at] Morven to find his furniture and clothing burned, his fine horses stolen, and his library—one of the finest private collections in the country—completely destroyed. The hiding place of exquisite family silver, hastily buried, had been betrayed by a servant.

“The Stockton’s were so destitute that they had to accept charity. For the judge’s fortune was gone, too. He had pledged it and his life to his country. He lost both. He did not live to see the Revolution won.”

John Morton, a delegate from Pennsylvania, was the first of the signers to die. His last words for his family, before his death in April 1777 (just eight months after he signed the Declaration), were, “…tell them that they will live to see the hour when they shall acknowledge it to have been the most glorious service I ever rendered to my country.”

The following month, Button Gwinnett, the commander in chief of Georgia’s militia, was badly wounded in a duel with a political opponent. He died a few days later—the second signer to die.

But by and large, the signers of the Declaration of Independence were a hardy bunch. Three of them lived until their 90s—a remarkable accomplishment in a time when most men did not see their 50th birthday.

Only two of the signers were bachelors. Sixteen of them married twice. Records indicate that at least two, and perhaps as many as six, were childless. But the other 50 signers were a prolific lot, having a total of 325 children between them! William Ellerey of Rhode Island had 17 children; Roger Sherman of Connecticut had 15.

Fifty years after the united colonies declared their independence from Britain, plans were made for jubilant celebrations on July 4, 1826. Only three of the original signers were still alive—Charles Carroll, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams. Here is how Sinclair and McArthur describe what occurred that day:

“In a dramatic climax that even their agile minds would not have contemplated, these two principals in the struggle for Independence left the nation awestricken and touched, by dying hours apart on the Fourth of July. Jefferson died at one o’clock in the afternoon, Adams toward evening.”

Ten days earlier, Jefferson had written the mayor of Washington, expressing his regret that ill health prevented him from coming to the nation’s new Capitol to join the festivities.

“I should, indeed, with peculiar delight, have met… with the small band, the remnant of that host of worthies, who joined with us on that day, in the bold and doubtful election we were to make for our country, between the submission or the sword.”

And he concluded by writing, “Let the annual return of this day forever refresh our recollection of these rights, and an undiminished devotion to them.”

As part of that “undiminished devotion,” we are delighted to provide you with a copy of They Signed For Us. Please click here for it.

And please share this copy of Straight Talk with others you know, so they may enjoy it as well. Just forward this column with a short note, urging them to read about the incredibly brave patriots who won our freedom for us when They Signed For Us.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

Chip Wood

Conservatives write open letter to Nancy Pelosi

Not all political representatives think government-regulated healthcare is a great idea and 19 House Democrats recently expressed some of their concerns about the proposed healthcare reform in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The letter was written in response to President Obama’s recent announcement that the government is working towards reducing "the crushing cost of healthcare" and possibly allowing for government-mandated health plans.

The group opposing this move contains conservative democratic representatives from a range of states including Louisiana, Minnesota and Alabama. These politicians fear government-sponsored health insurance will be used to pay for abortions and other pregnancy termination procedures.

As presented on US News and World Report’s blog, God and Country, the letter warns any plan that gives permission to pay for abortions is "unacceptable" and expresses concern that the Health Benefits Advisory Committee may have the power to recommend abortion procedures be covered.

The letter asks for an "explicit exclusion" of abortion in a government healthcare plan because co-signers to the letter "believe in a culture that supports and respects the right to life and is dedicated to the protection and preservation of families."
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Immigration reform takes a back seat to energy initiatives

The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) recently published a report that questions the government’s commitment to overhauling the existing policies.

After the American Clean Energy and Security bill was passed last week, FAIR felt that eliminating greenhouse gases and promoting environmentally friendly living should have been less of a priority than controlling the country’s immigration rate.

FAIR’s report outlines how the current rate of immigration will not help stop pollution and improve the climate change. For example, president Dan Stein explains that "population growth caused by unchecked immigration has steadily increased our energy use and our carbon emissions," so the bill does not address the real problem.
He further stated, The role of immigration-generated population growth cannot be ignored as Congress and the Obama administration tackle these very difficult issues."

The new energy bill aims to reduce carbon emissions by 17 percent by 2020 and a further 83 percent by 2030 from the last reported figures from 2005.

FAIR cites figures that anticipate the U.S population will continue to grow by 3.4 million people each year, and doesn’t feel that the government’s goals are realistic, considering the energy these people will consume.
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Another health benefit from regular exercise

Patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) are being encouraged to take more exercise, according to a new study by Australian researchers.

Those with the condition experience elevated liver enzymes and are at a higher risk for type 2 diabetes and obesity, brought on by metabolic syndrome.

Some are advised to control these risks with altering their diet, but the researchers at Sydney West Area Health Service wanted patients to focus on increasing the amount of exercise they do each day.

One group in the 141-person study was given custom exercise plans and worked with exercise scientists to determine how they would be physically active for around 150 minutes a week. This group displayed improvements in their liver enzyme output and metabolic functions, independent from any weight loss experienced.

Meanwhile, the control group, had a more sedentary lifestyle did not show any metabolic improvements, and some even experienced a decline in overall health.

"We hypothesize that the threshold for change in liver enzymes may be low so that even a slight increase in physical activity is sufficient to improve liver tests," researchers concluded in their paper, published on behalf of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD).ADNFCR-1961-ID-19248643-ADNFCR

Acupuncture aids more than back pain

Studies are beginning to reveal that the practice of acupuncture eases some forms of back pain and new testing indicates that it may also help women suffering from polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).

A research team at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, applied electro-acupuncture treatments to a group of women with PCOS and compared the results to another cluster of patients who were told to simply exercise.

Women who have PCOS generally experience higher levels of androgens like testosterone in their blood, ovarian cysts and irregular menstrual cycles.

Those who were treated with acupuncture on three pressure points that are believed to affect the ovaries had decreased testosterone levels, more normal menstrual cycles and smaller waist circumference.

Meanwhile, the group that completed regular exercise experienced weight loss and lower body mass index.

From these results, Dr. Elisabet Stener-Victorin concluded that "low-frequency electro-acupuncture and exercise decrease sympathetic nerve activity in women with PCOS." She further explained that this "indicates a possible alternative non-pharmacologic approach to reduce cardiovascular risk in these patients."

According to the study, a new effective treatment for PCOS could be a combination of both exercise and electro-acupuncture therapies. ADNFCR-1961-ID-19241820-ADNFCR

Go veggie for overall good health

A meatless diet offers benefits such as lower blood pressure, a reduced risk of heart disease and hypertension. A new paper offers revised information on how vegetarianism provides extra intake of vitamins D and K for bone health, indicating that they may help prevent osteoporosis.

While giving up meat is extremely unappealing to some people, the latest research indicates that many could benefit from switching to a vegetarian diet.

This paper, published by the American Dietitian Association, reveals that a vegetarian diet may help prevent some diseases such as cancer, heart disease and obesity in both adults and children.

The report was written by Dr Winston Craig of Andrews University, and he further explained the positive outcomes for those following a vegeterian diet.

"Vegetarian diets tend to be lower in saturated fat and cholesterol and have higher levels of dietary fiber, magnesium and potassium, vitamins C and E, folate, carotenoids, flavonoids and other phytochemicals," he wrote, concluding that nutritional differences may explain some of the health advantages experienced by those following a varied, balanced vegetarian diet.

He further explained that dietitians can help their clients by providing this kind of information and encouraging them to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into their meal plans, eliminating some meat for other forms of protein. ADNFCR-1961-ID-19246509-ADNFCR