Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Truth About Sodium

I’ve got some great news: We need it.

Sodium is a naturally-occurring mineral found in most foods.  Sodium is essential for maintaining proper body fluid levels and transmitting nerve impulses.  Each time you drink water, the amount you retain to maintain blood volume is regulated by sodium.  Each muscle contraction is made possible by sodium.  Sodium is necessary for proper body function.
The problems with sodium, however, occur when we ingest too much.  Because sodium attaches to water, too much of it results in fluid retention.  Although not weight from fat, water weight can cause some serious problems.  Increased fluids signal your body to make more blood.  If your body creates too much blood, you increase your chances of suffering from diseases related to decreased blood flow, like stroke and heart attack.  Additionally, most would agree that the bloating, discomfort, and water weight gain caused by water retention is simply discouraging.
The great news about sodium is that it’s totally manageable.  When you are able to manage your sodium, you’ll find that water retention from sodium is a problem of the past.  You’ll rarely exceed the daily recommended maximum of 2, 300 mg per day, or 1, 500 mg per day if you’re 51 or older.
Here are a few simple rules to help you take control of your sodium:
·         Drink water!  Drinking water flushes your system and sends signals to your body that it doesn’t need to retain more water and minerals.  Regularly hydrating yourself decreases the amount of fluid your body holds onto.  You may lose several pounds of water weight in a single day through adequate hydration.
·       Take the table salt off the table.  While it adds “flavor” to foods, table salt adds unnecessary sodium to foods.  By simply taking the salt off the table, thus eliminating your ability to add salt habitually or absentmindedly, you’ll take a huge step to increase your overall health.
·       Add spices!  Salt adds flavor, and if you eliminate table salt, your food might taste a little bland.  Replace your salt with a low-sodium spice blend like Mrs. Dash, Spike, or Pappy’s.  Try a spoonful of salsa on your eggs or cumin, pepper, and hot sauce in your taco meat instead of prepared taco seasoning.  Spices enhance the flavor of foods without the negative health benefits.
·       Eat fresh.  Foods directly from Nature’s Pantry offer an endless variety of flavors and possibilities.  Familiarize yourself with recipes that call for fresh fruits and vegetables.  Enjoy an abundance of sweet, tangy, sour, spicy, and tart fruits and vegetables.  Bake, broil, grill, and pan sauté with fresh cut herbs and diverse spices.  Follow a recipe or blaze your own culinary trails.  The more you chop, slice, dice, julienne, puree, and crush, the healthier you and your family eat.  A diet rich in fresh foods is naturally low in sodium.
·       Rinse canned foods.  Canned foods are packaged in salt water to retain color and flavor.  Rinsing the foods of their salty coating removes much of the excess sodium.  It’s that easy.
·       Exercise.  With the permission of your doctor, work up a sweat.  Sweat consists of water, urea, sodium and other trace minerals.  By exercising and sweating, you’re giving your body a hand in eliminating sodium from your system.  Replacing those lost fluids with water will further aid in the release of excess sodium.
Sodium is an essential component of a healthy diet.  Eliminating the mineral completely is not only impossible, but it’s unhealthy.  Maintaining healthy levels of sodium challenges many accustomed to processed, salty foods.  However, learning to enjoy the natural flavors abundant in whole, fresh foods not only changes your palate, but changes your life.  This small but vital step in reclaiming your health will yield a lifetime of benefits.


Shannon said...

B.E.A.U.TIFULLY written, thanks for sharing this post...I agree with all you said...and know that water is what saves me from bloating...and when I get too much sodium I drink water to negate the effects

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