Wednesday, August 3, 2011

What the SALT?

With conflicting studies, which is better – high or low sodium intake?
ALL studies aside, lower sodium diets PROVE to be more beneficial in preventing heart disease.
From personal experience, once I paid close attention to my salt intake, I was able to taste, see, and feel a difference.
Do you know how much salt you take in each day? Do you have high blood pressure? Do your rings fit one day and feel a little more snug around your fingers the next? Salt may NOT be the main culprit, but it can contribute to swelling, water retention, and bloating.
The Recommended Daily Allowance for Sodium (Na) is <2,300mg/day.
In this day in age, we have easy access to tools that allow us to calculate the macronutrients, vitamins, and minerals that we intake daily. Food journals and applications online are EXTREMELY helpful! Personally, I use iPhone apps to assist in my nutrition goals, DAILY. I bounce between a few different ones for a change of scenery every now and then.

Currently, I am using My Fitness Pal. This one provides a breakdown of the macronutrients, vitamins, and minerals that I consume in a given day.

Note to self: Every BODY is different and so are everyone’s goals. Different sports/activities require different nutrition, consult a Registered Dietitian for an exact breakdown of what YOU should be consuming for YOUR goals.
Sodium is an electrolyte and is essential, but our body likes to maintain a balance, homeostasis. With an abundance of salt in our diet, we may notice bloating, water retention, and swelling as mentioned above. "Water follows salt." With a large consumption of salt, water will be retained as well, resulting in the symptoms listed.
The ultimate goal is to limit our salt intake, by decreasing processed foods and eating out. However, who wants to never go out to dinner or indulge in possibly a sodium-rich holiday meal from time to time?! We can prepare for these occasions by counteracting the effects... with potassium.
Potassium has the EXACT opposite effect as sodium.
The RDA for potassium (K) is 4.7 grams/day (4,700mg/day).
Foods high in potassium include:
Lima Beans
Dairy Products
Suggestion: "Journal" your sodium intake for a few days. Evaluate. If you need to decrease, take small steps to achieve this - limit processed foods, eat out LESS, and try not to ADD salt to your foods. When your diet is lower in sodium, you will be more sensitive to the taste and you will IMMEDIATELY notice the high-sodium versus low-sodium foods by taste ALONE. I've done it - it works.

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