With all the overly processed foods surrounding our diets, salt is in almost everything now; you can't get away from it! It's in food like salted snacks, frozen fish, canned fruits and juices. Sodium is included in many of these foods to act as a preservative and to flavor them. You have to watch out for products that have disodium phosphate, salt, baking soda or powder, monosodium glutamate and anything that has the word sodium or the symbol "Na."
>> Read more: 9 Ways to Lower Your Salt Intake
It's also true that your body does need sodium, but only in small amounts. It helps your body's muscles to function, helps the nerves to send impulses throughout your body and even helps to regulate the balance of fluids in all of your tissues. Your kidneys are the main organs that deal with sodium intake, and they determine the amount of sodium needed in your body. If you do take in an excess amount of sodium, your kidneys flush it out through your urine. In some cases, the amount of sodium that you have consumed is too much and your kidneys can't flush it out. This can lead to a disruption in your fluid balance and potentially result in more harmful, long-term problems.
>> Read more: Getting to the Meat of Sodium Nitrates
Hypertension: When your blood pressure consistently stays higher than normal — higher than 140/90 — you should be worried. Blood pressure is the force of blood against your artery walls as the heart pumps blood throughout your body. Extra sodium attracts water into the circulatory system, putting more pressure on your blood vessels and raising your blood pressure. Hypertension has been linked to heart disease and strokes.
Kidney disease: Hypertension has also been connected to kidney failure and dysfunction, and is a major cause of kidney disease. Hypertension puts too much pressure on your vessels, causing your kidneys to overwork themselves! Salt has also been connected to directly impairing kidney function and can increase the risk of kidney stones.
Osteoporosis: Eating too much salt can make your body increase its excretion of calcium via urine. Losing calcium is not good for your bones because it is leached from your bones! This can cause bone loss and increase your risk of fracture overtime.
Water retention: As you know, salt attracts water to your body and your body will hold that water in all the inconvenient places. That allows your body to store it in your tissues all over your body, even in your skin. It can even cause puffy eyes with bags and dark circles!
>> Read more: 10 Easy Ways to Cut the Hidden Salt in Your Diet
According to Dr. Morton Tavel, who specializes in internal medicine and cardiovascular diseases, you can make gradual changes to your diet to reduce your sodium intake.
- You should try to eat fruit regularly, more than one to two servings of vegetables a day.
- Avoid soda and sugar-sweetened tea; instead have water or milk — one percent or fat-free — with your meals.
- If you eat large portions of meat, try to cut back by half or a third at each meal.
- Try having two or more meatless meals each week, have more vegetables, rice, pasta and beans instead.
- When buying canned fruit be sure it's canned in its own juice.
- You can also buy fresh or dried fruit.
- Be sure you're getting your whole grains in foods like whole wheat bread, brown rice or whole grain cereals.
- Use fresh, frozen or no-salt-added canned vegetables.
- Good snack ideas: unsalted pretzels, nuts mixed with raisins, graham crackers, popcorn with no salt or butter added, raw vegetables or low-fat, fat-free or frozen yogurt
Since you still need salt in your diet to survive, the key is to simply cut down on the amount of salt you eat. Next time you're cooking, try using herbs and spices rather than adding salt for flavor! Be sure to check the labels on your canned foods and opt for the reduced-salt versions.
Source: Berkeley Wellness