Any chef or foodie can agree that salt makes a great difference when it comes to flavoring your food. However, medical experts are still studying the negative effects of salt on our health. High sodium in your diet can lead to high blood pressure, water retention, build-up of sodium in your blood, and other health conditions. That’s why it is important to understand how salt affects your health and how to reduce sodium in blood.
Even if we want to avoid salt to improve our health, salt is practically in everything that we ingest. It is in processed foods, in cured meats, and even in pastries and cakes. But is salt inherently bad for us?
How To Reduce Sodium in Blood
To determine the level of sodium in blood, an electrolyte panel test is performed. This measures the amount of electrolytes like sodium and potassium in the blood.
This may be a part of a routine check-up or as a follow-up to assess symptoms of hypernatremia (too much sodium in blood) or hyponatremia (too little sodium in blood).
The symptoms of high sodium in blood (hypernatremia) are:
- Excessive thirst
- Irregular urination
The symptoms of low sodium in blood (hyponatremia) are:
- Muscle twitching
Why does the Body Need Salt?
Salt is not all that bad. In fact, the body needs a bit of sodium to function. Salt is needed to transmit nerve pulses from the brain to different parts of the body. Salt is also used by muscles to contract and relax.
This is why drinks made for athletes contain electrolytes since a lot of sodium is lost when the muscles are exerted. Salt is also essential to maintain a balance of fluids in the body.
Dietary Sources of Salt
The American Heart Association (AHA) states that the average human should not ingest more than 2,300 mg of salt per day, and that adults should limit their salt intake to 1,500 mg per day.
However, most people tend to exceed that limit because of their food choices. If you are trying to reduce sodium in blood and do not know where to start, it is best to first find out which types of food contain the most amount of salt.
How to Reduce Sodium in Blood: Skip Processed Food
Who can resist breakfast made up of bacon and eggs? Despite the fact that these types of food are loved by many, they contain a lot of salt.
Canned goods need a lot of salt to be preserved, and fast food gets that authentic taste because of all the salt in the additives. Processed food is one of the major culprits when it comes to salt in your diet.
Choose Natural Sources of Sodium
Sodium is present naturally in some food, namely dairy, vegetables, meat, and shellfish. However, the amount of salt present in these foods is not enough to cause harm to the body. It is still important to take note that despite the low amount, it may add up to a harmful level if you consume too much food.
Aside from salt that is made readily available in shakers in its “raw” form, condiments like soy sauce, ketchup, and liquid seasoning also contain sodium.
The AHA also names the top “salty six” foods. These widely consumed food items contain a large amount of salt.
- Cold cuts and cured meats
How Salt Harms the Body
Ideally, the kidneys balance out the amount of salt in the body. Excess sodium is excreted in the urine. But if too much salt is present in the blood, the kidneys can no longer filter them out or secrete them in urine.
This causes a harmful build-up in your blood. The salt build-up in the bloodstream can pose many health risks for the heart and the circulatory system. These conditions include hypertension and chronic kidney disease. So it’s important to know how to reduce sodium in blood.
How To Reduce Sodium in Blood
If you are not used to watching what you eat, it can be a struggle adjusting to a healthy diet. Becoming more mindful of your food choices is paramount. Health experts encourage that you read food labels and avoid eating out too much to help curb your intake of salt. Here are other ways on how to reduce sodium in the blood and your diet:
- Skip the processed meat. Processed food like bacon, hotdogs, and ham are usually the culprit for the accumulation of sodium in the bloodstream that leads to diseases like hypertension. If you can, opt for fresh food like fruits and vegetables.
- Skip the salt the next time you cook. This can sound like a big culinary mistake, but there are many dishes that can do without the salt. Most recipes do not taste that different without the sodium, and it is only a matter of time before you get used to it. Maximize herbs and spices to achieve optimal flavor instead.
- Shop wisely. How to reduce sodium in blood? One of the best tips is to clear your pantry of items that are high in salt. When heading out to the grocery, you may want to choose items that are labeled as “low-sodium,” “reduced sodium,” or food that has “no salt added.” Most products have low-salt alternatives, and opting for these can make a huge difference in your diet.
You can prevent many lifestyle diseases like hypertension or high cholesterol by cutting down on sodium. By eating healthier and cleaner, your body not only becomes better nourished, but it is also better protected from other illnesses. Follow these tips on how to reduce sodium in blood and take one step closer to a healthier future.
Learn more about Healthy Eating, here.
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