Salt, or more formally referred to as sodium chloride, is a common addition to food around the world. You may frequently fill salt inside those shakers on your kitchen table, but it is actually something that you should be shaking altogether.
Sodium chloride offers electrolyte sodium into our diets. The salt crystals are vital to maintain a proper fluid balance within our cells, which in turn helps the contraction of muscles and transmission of nerves.
This mineral also helps aid the digestion of essential nutrients. While experts recommend that the average person consume approximately 1,500 milligrams of salt per day, most people consume much more than this daily. Too much salt in one’s diet can be detrimental in a variety of different ways.
However, it is vital to note that there are different kinds of salt. The salt found in fast foods and other processed foods differs greatly from sea salt or a natural Himalayan salt. Sodium in the form of a natural whole sea salt, Himalayan salt, kosher salt, and Celtic salt is actually extremely beneficial for the body.
Side Effects Of Too Much Salt In Your Diet
The electrolytes found within these kinds of salt are significant for our bodies to function properly. We need sodium in our diet, however too much of the wrong kind of salt can become harmful. Let’s talk about some side effects of having too much salt in your diet.
1. You Swell In All The Wrong Places
Do you ever feel bloated? Sometimes eating leads to an extremely swollen feeling, and the likely culprit is your salt intake. Sodium exists on the outside of our cells and works to counterbalance potassium, which is concentrated mostly within our cells.
The amount of sodium around our cells helps to keep extracellular fluid levels balanced. If this balance is thrown off with too much sodium, the body retains more water than it needs.
Too much sodium allows the kidneys to stop or slow down their release of water into the urine that is expelled from the body. This holding or retention of water causes a bloating or swollen feeling.
If you want to fit nicely into your pants after eating, be sure to consciously keep an eye on your sodium intake.
2. You Feel Like You’re In The Desert
It is no secret that too much salt leads to dehydration. This is due to the levels of water retention that occurs because of the too much sodium.
Even if you feel as though you are well hydrated, this water retention can still occur.
You become deficient in water without the release of water from your bodies. So, even if you are drinking enough water, the sodium holding onto the water within your body still causes you to feel dehydrated.
The side effects of dehydration include thirst, dizziness, stomach pains, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. If this isn’t enough of a reason to eliminate too much salt from your diet, let’s discuss a few more side effects of high blood pressure.
3. You’ll Become Tense In More Ways Than One
We are not just talking run-of-the-mill tense or anxious here. Too much salt intake can lead to hypertension, which is another term for high blood pressure.Because sodium affects blood pressure, you should really watch the amount you consume.
The kidneys contain hormones that regulate the amount of sodium and water we excrete from our bodies.
The more sodium that is present in our blood, the higher the blood volume inside of our bodies. This high blood volume turns into high blood pressure, and thus the problems begin.
Too much sodium over a long period of time causes recurring high blood pressure, and this is when it becomes a chronic issue. Hypertension has many detrimental side effects, including an increase in cardiovascular disease, and even low libido.
4. Sodium Can Create Or Worsen Other Medical Conditions
Not only can too much salt intake cause hypertension, but it can also cause or worsen other medical conditions.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, too much sodium intake can contribute to increased chances of heart attack and stroke. It can also increase the likelihood of developing osteoporosis.
We have talked about how the kidneys handle this overabundance of sodium, and this can cause water retention and other issues. However, it also explains why too much sodium can cause osteoporosis and other calcium deficiencies.
The kidneys expel excess amounts of minerals and electrolytes, including calcium. Whenever there is an overabundance, the kidneys go into overdrive to release these minerals and nutrients. This means that the kidneys are releasing too much calcium, and once this becomes recurrent, then your calcium levels and bones are at risk.
Now that we have discussed a few reasons why salt is detrimental for our health, let’s learn some realistic ways to eliminate it from our diets.
Top Ways To Cut Salt From Your Diet
It might seem like an arduous task, but lowering your sodium intake might be easier than you assume.
- Know Where To Find It
The essential thing is to first recognize where we find salt, particularly the wrong kinds of salt.
The wrong kind of salt is presentin most prepackaged, processed or fast foods. These foods tend to be drastically high in sodium levels.
Take a look at one of the burgers from a major fast food chain. One burger in particular, that shall remain nameless, contains the amount of sodium that we should consume in one day alone. Yes, that’s right. Our daily intake of sodium is present inside one fast food burger. Avoiding fast food is not the only thing you will have to do to cut back on your sodium intake.
- Watch Your Snacks
Many snack foods, even those that are labeled as healthy, include quite a bit of sodium. If you regularly snack on pretzels, chips or other packaged foods, then try having some raw vegetables instead.
You can even make your own chips by baking vegetables. Sweet potatoes make for great fries. Here is our favorite recipe.
- Simply cut up two to three sweet potatoes into the fry shape you desire.
- Place these fries as a single layer on a baking sheet, and drizzle them with olive oil.
- You can lightly sprinkle some kosher salt or sea salt onto the sweet potato fries, but remember to go easy.
- Bake these fries for about 15 minutes in an oven set to 400 degrees.
You can also bake vegetables in the same manner. Kale chips are wonderful substitutes for fries, and you can also bake carrots, too.
- Watch The Frozen Foods
In order to maintain the quality of frozen foods over extended periods of time, they need to be heavily salted.
Therefore, you should check the foods that are already high in sodium content and frozen, such as fish. Fish that is frozen, pre-breaded, pre-fried or smoked is likely to be high in sodium.
This also includes frozen foods in general. Keep an eye on your frozen dinners, pizza and even vegetables. It might be tempting to opt for an easy meal, but remember that it is the salt content that is keeping these frozen foods from spoiling.
Always read the nutritional label on the back before purchasing if you are concerned about sodium levels.
- Understand Some Meats Are Naturally High In Sodium
Anyone who would like to watch their sodium levels should really watch a few meats in particular.
Bacon, corned beef, lunchmeats, sausages, hot dogs and ham are quite high in sodium. If you really have to have any of these meats, then be sure to limit the amount you eat.
- Watch Out For Salty Sides
Be careful in thinking that some foods are healthy when you are actually dousing them in salt. For example, a salad is generally pretty safe. However, if you are adding salad dressing, then you could be adding a large amount of salt to what was once a healthy meal.
Many sauces include quite a bit of sodium, too, and ketchup and mayonnaise particularly have a large amount of sodium. Think about it. If you are having a burger with bacon, ketchup and mayonnaise, then you are now consuming more sodium than you may realize.
- Canned Foods Are High In Sodium
As with the preserved foods, many canned foods are high in sodium, as well. Be conscious of the kind of food you are consuming from a can.
Sometimes, washing the food out of the can will get rid of quite a bit of salt before you even cook it.
Also, boiling any vegetables can also eliminate some of the salt found in the can. Remember to always check the nutritional label before consuming them or even buying them in the first place.
- You Can Cook Without Salt While Still Maintaining Flavor
Instead of adding table salt to your food, try using more herbs and spices in the food while you are cooking it.
If you add more spices, then you more than likely will not even want table salt. Keep in mind that fresh herbs add more flavor than dried herbs.
Cooking with more lean meats, such as skinless poultry, fish, tuna and egg whites can also eliminate quite a bit of potential sodium.
Monitoring your salt intake can be difficult, but remember that it is of the utmost importance to your health. Too much salt can lead to hypertension, bloating and swelling, dehydration and even a low libido.
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Remember, some salt is good, but too much can be disastrous to your health. Be smart and check labels, while trying other ways to season your meals. Your body will thank you for it.