Sodium: Is how much you ingest really bad?
For years and years and years HCPs have been telling you to cut out sodium as much as you can from your diet, and I feel like it is everywhere that people know they shouldn’t eat too much sodium, but, why? And some ways to make sure you aren’t being duped into eating more sodium than you have intended!
Sodium is necessary for your body to thrive because it helps with a lot of the body processes like muscle contraction and relaxation (like with one of the most important muscles: our hearts), so it helps with blood pressure and also functions in our brains. But too much sodium can lead to a body retaining too much water, increase our blood pressure (due to the extra fluid retention related to the sodium), but this puts you at a higher risk for heart attacks and strokes. For something that is a pretty attainable, lowering your sodium intake, it’s a great way to he healthy and protect your heart.
Where is sodium lurking?
If you are healthy with no medical issues, you can take in up to 2300mg of sodium per day (that’s about a teaspoon of salt) but if you have chronic kidney disease, heart disease, high blood pressure, or are over 50 years old, the suggested daily amount of sodium is 1500mg (which is not very much at all). Sodium is in almost everything, and if it is pre-made or pre-packaged, the sodium content is usually unbelievably high! So, if you are on (or should be on) a sodium restricted diet, there are some things you should skip or use sparingly:
- Pre-made foods from stores ( both fresh AND frozen, unless they are labelled as low sodium, but read the labels to be sure)
- Canned foods (even veggies/beans are loaded with sodium as a preservative; I have been buying dry beans and giving them a super soak, much healthier and no sodium added!)
- Condiments (including various spices!)
- Processed meats
- Fast foods
- Processed snack foods (potato chips, cheese curls, etc.)
- Soups (even low sodium still has a lot of sodium, so I tend to make my own and not add any salt!)
And remember that fresh foods like fruits and veggies naturally have sodium in them, so even though you might think that you are not eating any extra sodium, you might be. Plus, always read the labels to be sure how much sodium is present in various foods! Many different beverages, including some bottled waters have sodium in them, so your best bet at sticking to a low sodium diet, is to reach for foods labelled as “low sodium”, reading package labels, shy away from beverages other than water, and don’t add any salt to your foods when you are cooking! Plus, half the battle is being aware of how much sodium you should be taking in, and making an effort to stick to it.
And, if you do splurge, make sure to drink a lot of water, and get some exercise to help flush that extra sodium out of your system.
Yours in Good Health