Healthy Choices

Eating Too Much Salt Weakens Bones

A high salt intake increases calcium loss from bones, especially in people with a marginal calcium intake. In a study of 124 postmenopausal women, researchers found the higher the sodium (salt) intake, the lower the bone density. This reinforces the need to limit sodium consumption—not only to prevent hypertension, but also to prevent osteoporosis (weak bones) and fractures. Researchers observed that people need to limit sodium intake to 1500 milligrams daily to prevent this excess loss of calcium that weakens the bones. Find the sodium content of common foods at

Four Ways to Improve Your Walking Technique

On your next walk, think about these four ways you can improve your walking technique—tips that will benefit your walk and your health, suggests Mark Fenton, former host of the PBS series America's Walking.

Stand tall. Posture matters. Focus on the horizon, keep your shoulders back, and tuck your abs to avoid arching your lower back.

Take quicker steps, not longer. Your stride will lengthen as you pick up speed, but don't force yourself to take longer steps.

Bend your arms. Bring them up to a 90-degree angle, no more. Keep your elbow fixed. Your hands come to the center line in front of your body but do not cross. Faster arms will make faster feet.

Push off with your back foot for power. Generate push at the end of each step as your leg prepares to swing forward. You should feel as if you're showing the sole of your shoe to someone behind you.

Physical Activity Reduces Suicide Risk

Suicide is the third-leading cause of death for teens in the United States. Factors such as depression, smoking, alcohol use and drug use are closely related to increased risk of suicide. Inactivity in high school students is also a risk factor, according to a recent study. Researchers found that boys who got frequent, vigorous physical activity cut their risk of suicide attempts by more than half (52 percent) when compared to inactive students. Girls who were moderately active cut their risk by almost half (48 percent). The study also found significantly lower suicide rates in teen boys who participated regularly in sports at their schools. Girls showed a lowered risk, too, but it didn't reach significance when adjusted for all other risk factors. Physical activity is powerful medicine for teens and adults. Read more at

Ask the Doctor

Q: I've heard that green tea is good for your health. Should I drink green tea daily for better health knowing it also contains caffeine?

A: There are many references to the benefits of green tea in the media, but there's more than meets the eye. Dr. Don Hall answers the question at

June 01, 2008 / Health