Dan is out and about with his family today, so he has asked me to step in. I have some big shoes to fill! (Literally, have you seen the size of his feet?) Anyway, I will do my best to not let any of you down.
All day I have been craving sweets, salty snacks, and fat-filled foods. Sometimes it is hard not to cave in to these kinds of cravings, but…I didn’t! However, I did find my topic for the day. Over the past month, I have been tracking what I eat down to the lick. My diet is well-balanced; however, I am SHOCKED at the amount of sodium I have been consuming in a day. I didn’t even realize I was consuming foods that are high in sodium.
Hope you find today’s post helpful, and please feel free to comment below or contact us with any questions you may have. I am also willing to analyze your sodium intake if you send me a week’s worth of your diet. Have a wonderful evening!
So, anyone know any good jokes about sodium? ”Na.”
Where does sodium come from?
Sodium occurs naturally in most foods. The most common form of sodium is sodium chloride, which is table salt. Foods such as milk, meat, shellfish, beets, and celery also naturally contain sodium, as does drinking water, although the amount varies depending on the source.
Sodium is also added to various food products. Some of these added forms are monosodium glutamate, sodium nitrite, sodium saccharin, baking soda (sodium bicarbonate), and sodium benzoate. These are ingredients in condiments and seasonings such as Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, onion salt, garlic salt, and bouillon cubes.
Processed meats, such as bacon, sausage, and ham, and canned soups and vegetables are all examples of foods that contain added sodium. Fast foods are generally very high in sodium.
Why do we need sodium?
Sodium is an element that the body needs to function properly. The body uses sodium to regulate blood pressure and blood volume. Sodium is also critical for the functioning of muscles and nerves. It helps transmit nerve impulses and influences the contraction and relaxation of muscles. Sodium also helps maintain the right balance of fluids in your body.
It is also used in the uptake of certain nutrients from our small intestines. The body cannot make salt and so we are reliant on food to ensure that we get the required intake.
Your kidneys naturally balance the amount of sodium stored in your body for optimal health. When your sodium levels are low, your kidneys essentially hold on to the sodium. When sodium levels are high, your kidneys excrete the excess in urine.
What are the negative affects of consuming too much sodium?
Like most nutrients, consuming too much sodium can have negative affects.
Too much sodium may lead to high blood pressure in those who are sensitive to sodium. If you have high blood pressure, your doctor will probably recommend that you reduce your sodium (salt) intake.
Sodium may lead to a serious build-up of fluid in people with congestive heart failure, cirrhosis, or kidney disease. Such people should be on a strict sodium-restricted diet, as prescribed by their doctor.
How much sodium do we need?
The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting sodium to less than 2,300 mg a day (1 teaspoon of table salt contains 2,300 mg of sodium) — or 1,500 mg if you’re age 51 or older, or if you are black, or if you have high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, liver cirrhosis, diabetes or chronic kidney disease.
Keep in mind that these are upper limits, and less is usually best, especially if you’re sensitive to the effects of sodium. If you aren’t sure how much sodium your diet should include, talk to your doctor.
Specific recommendations regarding sodium intake do not exist for infants, children, and adolescents. Eating habits and attitudes about food formed during childhood are likely to influence eating habits for life. For this reason, moderate intake of sodium is suggested.
How do I eat less sodium?
Know your labels…
Many food packages include sodium-related terms. Mayo Clinic explains what these terms mean:
- Sodium-free or salt-free. Each serving in this product contains less than 5 mg of sodium.
- Very low sodium. Each serving contains 35 mg of sodium or less.
- Low sodium. Each serving contains 140 mg of sodium or less.
- Reduced or less sodium. The product contains at least 25 percent less sodium than the regular version. You should check the label to see how much sodium is in a serving.
- Lite or light in sodium. The sodium content has been reduced by at least 50 percent from the regular version. You should check the label to see how much sodium is in a serving.
- Unsalted or no salt added. No salt is added during processing of a food that normally contains salt. However, some foods with these labels may still be high in sodium because some of the ingredients may be high in sodium.
But watch out — foods labeled “reduced sodium” or “light in sodium” may still contain a lot of salt. For example, regular canned chicken noodle soup contains about 1,100 mg of sodium per cup, so a product with 25 percent less sodium still has a whopping 820 mg of sodium per cup. The same holds true for “lite” or “light in sodium” varieties.
Try to avoid products with more than 200 mg of sodium per serving. And check the Nutrition Facts label closely for the serving size — and consider how many servings you actually eat.
MedlinePlus offers some suggestions on how you can make a few simple changes to help you and your family eat less salt and sodium.
- Buy fruits and vegetables for snacks instead of salty chips and salty crackers.
- Read food labels. Buy foods that say “reduced sodium,” “low in sodium,” “sodium free,” or “no salt added.”
- Choose fewer regular canned and processed foods like sausage, bologna, pepperoni, salami, ham, canned or dried soups, pickles, and olives.
- Each day cut back a little on the amount of salt you add to foods. Your taste for salt is acquired, so you can learn to enjoy less. Decrease your use of salt gradually and your taste buds will adjust. After a few weeks of cutting back on salt, you probably won’t miss it, and some foods may even taste too salty.
- Use spices instead of salt. Season your food with herbs and spices such as pepper, cumin, mint, or cilantro. For beef…try bay leaf, garlic, marjoram, basil, pepper, thyme, cilantro. For chicken…try marjoram, oregano, rosemary, sage, tarragon. For fish… try curry powder, dill, parsley.
- Use garlic powder and onion powder instead of garlic salt and onion salt.
- Use less bouillon cubes, soy sauce, and ketchup.
Do athletes need more salt?
From Salt Institute
Salt is essential not only to life, but to good health. It’s always been that way. The body’s salt/water ratio is critical to metabolism. Human blood contains 0.9% salt (sodium chloride) — the same concentration as found in United States Pharmacopeia (USP) sodium chloride irrigant commonly used to cleanse wounds. Salt maintains the electrolyte balance inside and outside of cells. Routine physical examinations measure blood sodium for clues to personal health. Most of our salt comes from foods, some from water. Inadequate salt concentration in the blood, called hyponatremia, can be problematic. Doctors often recommend replacing water and salt lost in exercise [see advice on maintaining hydration for weekend athletes bodybuilders, professional athletes and outdoor athletes such as marathon runners and ultra-endurance athletes] and when working outside. Older people have special concerns to consume sufficient salt. Wilderness hikers know the importance of salt tablets to combat hyperthermia. Oral rehydration involves replacing both water and salt. Oral Rehydration Therapy (ORT) has been termed, by the British Medical Journal “the most important medical advance this (20th) century.” Expectant mothers are advised to get enough salt.
Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/sodium/NU00284
MedlinePlus (service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine): http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002415.htm
Royal Society of Chemistry: http://www.rsc.org/Chemsoc/Chembytes/HotTopics/Salt/whysalt.asp
Salt Institute: http://www.saltinstitute.org/content/download/8819/47859