Our SALT Addiction

Table salt or sodium chloride is a mineral mined from salt deposits in the earth. Sea salt, considered healthier by some, is procured through evaporation, but has the same basic sodium value. The side effects are similar in both sources. The CDC reports that 90% of Americans consume excess salt beyond recommended limits. This is what happens to your body:

1. Your brain reacts in a similar way as it does to heroin and nicotine, with an addictive effect(1).

2. Death from stomach cancer in both men and women is correlated with high sodium intake. It can cause stomach ulcers as well because of its effect on the stomach lining.

3. Sodium increases your blood pressure by overloading your kidneys. High blood pressure is a symptom of cardiovascular disease. It is also key in causing kidney stones.

4. Osteoporosis increases because the body takes calcium from your bones to make up for that lost in your urine.

5. Salt increases the risk of cognitive decline even when high blood pressure and poor diet were not present.

6. Your skin may be effected with edema or swelling due to fluid retention.

WHAT TO DO:

1. EMBRACE A LOW SODIUM DIET  You may not have to change everything if you eliminate the high sodium foods like TV dinners, cold cuts, smoked or canned meats and entrees. Salt hides in many foods, so be sure to always check the nutritional facts on the package.

2. START AN EXERCISE ROUTIN  Exercise is proven to be one of the best ways to sweat out your sodium. You get a lot of other health and social benefits too.

3. SWITCH TO POTASSIUM CHLORIDE   Potassium is a mineral in foods needed for vital physical functions like the beating of your heart. Some studies even show it reduces blood pressure. But, check with you doc first since kidney problems can interfere.

4. DON’T SALT AT ALL  Since sodium occurs naturally in most foods, we don’t need to salt. About 70% of all sodium we consume comes from the salt shaker. I personally don’t salt my food at all. On my dining table, I only have a salt substitute which is potassium chloride and available in most grocery stores.

5. IT MAKES A DIFFERENCE  If you have high blood pressure in the family like I do, you can control it. My sister is 57 years old and has been on blood pressure medications for over 25 years. In contrast, I have embraced healthy diets and exercise for most of my 62 years of age. I enjoy a Mediterranean diet which eliminates the packaged and processed sodium foods. I have an exercise routine since I was a kid because I find it enjoyable. As a result, I have never taken any medications for any chronic medical condition and have no current illnesses. My sister and I have the same genes, but a different outcome.  L. Johnson

(1)Dovey, D. 4-28-2015 “Too much salt: How a diet too high in sodium can affect your health, brain, and even bone health.” Retrieved on 1-29-2016 from medicaldaily.com.

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