Carvings July 16, 2021

In the news

Uh-Oh! Another variant. And what about those “breakthroughs”?

            We were told very early in the COVID-19 pandemic that we could expect mutations to arise and that some of these might carry severe consequences and might be able to evade any vaccine. The good news is that although some changes have occurred – a recent variant dubbed Delta does have the capacity to spread more easily – the three vaccines currently in use in the United States maintain their effectiveness.

            One of the most frustrating things about this virus is that it doesn’t seem to play by the rules. It causes symptoms and complications that no one anticipated. Even the vaccines – although they work much better than the most optimistic of us expected – cause serious, sometimes deadly side effects.

            As I noted in an earlier blog there are some individuals in whom the vaccine does not seem to have a protective effect – a vaccine failure. These failures are well known to immunologists and include improper storage or handling of the vaccines, patients who cannot mount an immune response because of obesity, diabetes, steroid therapy or chemotherapy, or even a genetic defect that affects the immune system. As of midsummer fewer than 200 vaccinated persons have died among the nearly three and a half billion persons who have received the vaccine. Every one of these is a tragedy to be sure, but these deaths pale in comparison to the four million persons who have died from the natural infection.

            As always, perspective matters.

Lifestyle

          Don’t pass the salt, please!

                Taking in less sodium isn’t going to do much for weight loss but it will certainly improve your overall health.  Americans take in about 5 times (!) as much sodium as they need, contributing to the current epidemics of high blood pressure, heart disease and osteoporosis.

            Most of our daily sodium intake comes from packaged, processed food. That’s why it’s so important to read the Nutrition Facts label on every package. If the sodium content is over 500 mg. (milligrams) per serving, take a pass.

            There are plenty of tasty substitutes for salt but potassium chloride isn’t one of them. Most users complain about the taste. However, there are plenty of spices that you can use to pep up your menu. Just start experimenting.

            Speaking of substitutes, the best ones consist of unprocessed vegetables and fruits. They are naturally low in sodium and their potassium, fiber and generous supply of vitamins and antioxidants are what our bodies are designed for – not all that salt.

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