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Nutrition

The Dangers of Excess Salt and Tips to Reducing Your Intake

We all know that excess salt is not good for our health. But did you know that the effects of a high salt diet could contribute to Alzheimer's disease, asthma, stomach cancer, hypertension, and kidney stones?  High salt intake is also speculated to affect intelligence and memory!   

Now I know a lot of us, including me, crave that salty flavor from time to time.  And after all, salt does provide us with much needed sodium and greatly appreciated flavor. But oftentimes, we over do it.
 
Salt is readily available in so many forms, that we may not even know how much salt we are actually consuming.  Did you know that Americans routinely take in as much as 4000 milligrams of sodium each day?  That is about 8 times the minimum daily requirement!

Chronic salt intake not only over does our sodium intake, but also affects the balance between sodium and potassium.  In our cells, it is important that the high levels of potassium stay within our cells while high concentrations of sodium  stay out.  

If the salt-potassium balance is out of whack with the sodium levels exceeding the potassium levels, healthy cellular metabolism is compromised.  As a result, resistance to disease and illness is weakened.

So, the logical response to this is, "OK, so if I eat a lot of potassium, I will balance out quite nicely."  

Not the case. Changing potassium intake quickly can result in irregular heartbeats and even heart attacks, not to mention affecting the absorption of calcium.   

The healthy response to sodium is this: cut back. We do not need a lot of sodium, so why are we taking in so much?  In order to maintain a healthy lifestyle, we MUST cut back on our salt intake.

Tips on Reducing Salt in Your Diet

It really is quite easy to cut back on unnecessary salt.  Here are a few suggestions from the book The Salt Solution.

1.  Watch for the foods that are obviously heavy in salt.  Processed foods are the biggest criminals in the salt world.  Read the labels sometime on some of your favorite processed food items.  The high levels of sodium will shock you!  What are some of the other culprits? Movie popcorn, pickles, chips, processed lunch meats, salted nuts, and bacon, to name a few.  Cut them out all together, or at least greatly minimize your intake.

2.  Try a salt substitute.  Some of these salt substitutes contain 54% less sodium than salt!  That is a huge reduction and definitely an avenue to consider.  You can also try other seasonings like garlic, onions, and peppers.

3.  Order smart at restaurants.  Restaurant soups and a variety of dishes served in restaurants are incredibly high in sodium. Remember this point:  very few restaurants are conscious about the health effects of different food items.  They are in the business of  
creating great tasting meals, and rightly so.  Be very aware of what you're ordering.  It might even be best to stick with fresh items such as salads and grilled meats with no salty seasonings.

Your long-term health is in one way determined by what you put in your mouth.  While spoiling yourself every now and again is OK in my book, frequent poor eating habits are sure to affect your health in ways you will not want.  Create new, healthy habits and you will be sure to live a life full of vitality!


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Nothing on this site is a recommendation as to how to treat any particular disease or health-related condition. You should not use this site as a substitute for professional medical advice. For serious ailments, or if symptoms persist, you must see a medical
professional. You should not stop taking prescribed medication without consulting your doctor.

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