“Where do you get your protein?” is a question frequently asked of those of us eating plant based meals. A great response for you would be, “Where do you get your potassium and fiber?” Less than 2% of Americans achieve the recommended minimum adequate intake of potassium, due primarily to inadequate plant food intake.

98% of American Diets Potassium Deficient

NutritionFacts.org, May 23, 2013, Michael Greger, MD: Less than 2% of Americans achieve even the recommended minimum adequate intake of potassium, due primarily to inadequate plant food intake.

Every cell in the body requires the element potassium to function. As I detail in my 2-min. video 98% of American Diets Potassium Deficient, for much of the last 3 million years or so, we ate so many plants that we probably got 10,000 mg of potassium in our daily diet. Today, we’d be lucky to get 3,000.

Less than 2% of Americans even get the recommended minimum adequate intake of 4,700 a day. To get even the adequate intake, the average American would have to eat like 5 more bananas worth of potassium a day. 98% of Americans eat potassium deficient diets because they don’t eat enough plants.

Why do we care? A review of all the best studies ever done on potassium intake and it’s relationship to two of our top killers, stroke and heart disease, was recently published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. A 1600 mg per day higher potassium intake was associated with a 21% lower risk of stroke. That still wouldn’t get the average American up to the minimum adequate intake, but it might be able to wipe out a fifth of their stroke risk. The paper concludes: “These results support recommendations for higher consumption of potassium-rich foods to prevent vascular diseases.”

Read 98% of American Diets Potassium Deficient

A deficiency in potassium causes fatigue, irritability, and hypertension. A potassium deficiency or hypokalemia can cause damage to the body, particularly to the muscles and nerves. If you are suffering from hypokalemia, you will feel fatigued. It may be difficult to stay awake or you may feel like you do not have enough energy to complete physical tasks. You may experience muscle weakness or your muscles will spasm. This can include an abnormal heart rhythm, especially in those that regularly develop a potassium deficiency. The muscles may cramp and it can become difficult or painful to move. Patients will become constipated and may begin to experience digestive trouble. If this is left unchecked, it can lead to permanent muscle damage or paralysis, and kidney damage or hypokalemic nephropathy.

Relying on convenience and restaurants foods and not eating enough fruits and vegetables is why so many people don’t get enough potassium. According to the USDA, some excellent sources of potassium are: Winter squash, cubed, Sweet potato (baked with skin), Potato, medium (baked with skin), White beans, Broccoli, Cantaloupe, Banana, Lentils, and Raisins. Swiss chard, spinach, cantaloupe, dates, avocado, apricots, peach, orange, watermelon and grapefruit are also excellent sources for potassium.

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