A low sodium diet can have great health benefits. Sodium is necessary in your diet. However, too much sodium can affect various body systems. Your heart, kidneys, and essentially, all of your body systems can be healthier if you follow a lower sodium diet. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recorded by the MayoClinic.com recommends that adults who are healthy should limit sodium to no more that 2,300 mg/day.
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Sodium and Your Health
The American Heart Association states that "Sodium is an element that's needed for good health. However, too much salt or too much water in your system will upset the balance." There are many benefits to following a low sodium diet. Reducing your intake of sodium, or salt, helps to reduce blood pressure and helps to prevent swelling of the extremities, such as your legs. Also, you may lower your risk of heart disease by limiting your salt intake. Dr. Norman M. Kaplan at UpToDate.Com suggests that certain medications actually work better with a lower sodium diet. Medications such as antihypertensives, which treat high blood pressure, work more efficiently. There can be a decreased risk of dying from stroke and reduced risk of kidney stones and osteoporosis developing, as well. Other medications, such as diuretics, or water pills, such as lasix and bumex are taken to treat heart failure and can be affected by sodium intake. Kaplan states that there is a direct link between sodium intake and high blood pressure. If you take diuretics, you should talk to your physician regarding your diet. You should ask about any type of fluid restriction and what your daily sodium intake should be.
Reducing Sodium in Your Diet
MayoClinic.com says that in order to have a lower sodium diet, you should eat more fruits and vegetables and use other herbs and spices in place of salt for flavoring. To replace typically high-sodium foods in your diet, try to buy and prepare foods that have low sodium ingredients or that are labeled "no added salt." Try to watch package labels for the sodium content that is contained in a food product. Dr. Kaplan and Barbara Olendzki, RD, state that much of the sodium you eat comes from pre-packaged and processed foods. They also state that one teaspoon of salt is equivalent to about 2,300 mg sodium. The National Kidney Foundation at Kidney.org advises to avoid salt substitutes because they can be high in potassium. Potassium can then affect your heart. According to The American Heart Association, in the United States, there would be a savings of more than $426 billion in health-care spending and a 25.6 percent decrease in the occurrence of high blood pressure among the population if excess sodium were eliminated from people's diets.
Choosing Low Sodium
Sodium is a mineral found in your foods naturally. It is also in the table salt you use on your foods. How much salt or sodium you eat is up to you. You can choose to limit the use of canned, processed and frozen foods. You can instead choose to eat healthier foods, such as more fresh fruit and vegetables and prepare foods using other spices. Always ask your physician or health-care provider before beginning a low sodium diet. Ask for advice from your physician regarding any questions you have regarding following a low sodium diet.