Bloating often appears as general swelling or puffiness in your extremities, face or abdomen. It can be a temporary but uncomfortable result of eating gas-inducing foods. Occasional bloating may not require medical intervention, especially if you can identify and eliminate the source. However, prolonged bloating may be a symptom of edema, which can underlie a serious health problem like kidney complications or high blood pressure. Continuous high salt intake contributes to fluid retention and chronic bloating.
Sodium and Salt
The mineral sodium is an important part of your diet because it helps to regulate fluid balance outside of your cells and sustain normal nerve impulses that communicate to different parts of your body. You need a small amount of sodium in your daily diet to maintain these biochemical functions. The preservative salt contains 40-percent sodium. Most people use table salt as a flavor enhancer, while food manufacturers add it to foods to preserve product shelf life. Fluid retention and bloating result from getting more salt than you need when you add too much salt to meals or consume high-sodium foods regularly.
Fluid Retention and Bloating
The kidneys act as natural filters by processing excess minerals and fluids from your body through the urinary tract. If you consistently bombard your body with salt, your kidneys may not be able to keep up, and sodium begins to accumulate in your blood. The sodium binds to water in your bloodstream, resulting in a blood volume increase, which causes pressure to build in the walls of your blood vessels. The accumulating sodium and water expand in the spaces between your blood cells. Eventually, the available space between cells diminishes, causing what appears as skin puffiness or bloating.
Complications of Excess Salt Intake
The persistent appearance of bloating may indicate damaged kidneys or high blood pressure. In either condition, you should consult your physician for diagnosis and treatment. Both situations can become serious and warrant dietary changes along with medical treatment. A low-sodium diet can prevent your kidneys from working harder than they have to in order to properly maintain fluid balance. In the event of high blood pressure, a low-sodium diet helps minimize blood volume so that your heart does not have to pump harder, which can weaken your heart muscle.
Considerations and Prevention
The American Heart Association recommends limiting your daily salt and sodium consumption to 1,500 mg or less to reduce your risk of elevated blood pressure and kidney disease. According to MayoClinic.com, the average American gets 3,400 mg of sodium a day, which far exceeds the healthy intake recommendations. Prevent bloating and serious health complications associated with high salt intake by limiting consumption of processed foods like frozen dinners, cured meats, fast food or canned food. Opt for fresh fruits or vegetables, lean meat like grilled fish or baked chicken, and skip the table salt. Read food labels for sodium content per serving ,and consult your physician for recommendations based on your health needs.