Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Salt Sparingly.

This whole training every day thing is much harder than I thought, but the hubbs and I have been sticking with it and feeling healthier overall.  I've been running, walking or bicycling each morning, and on days when the weather is wicked, I stay indoors and do yoga or pilates.  It's definitely starting to take effect on my body-- I sleep better, feel stronger and my mind feels fog-free at the end of each day.  I've been preparing meals at home at least five nights of the week, made from the freshest foods I can find and limiting liquids other than water and whole milk on a daily basis.  Processed foods are a thing of the past in this house, and portions have shrank to much more reasonable sizes.  We're both enjoying the "challenge" and hard work involved, and our health is reflecting that.

One of my biggest personal struggles is cutting back on my sodium intake-- it's torturous.  I'm the girl who will eat a bowl of olives, a handful of salami slices and want salted peanuts afterwards.  The problem is that when I do (or did) this, my body would become saturated with water, leaving me feeling heavy and slow.  The more I cut back on the sodium (salt), the better I feel.  Here are a few tips I've learned to follow that have helped improve my blood pressure and reduce water gain, keeping me fit and fast...

Most people get far more sodium in their diets than they need.  In general, processed foods contain the most salt, while unprocessed foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, have the least.  If you want to cut back on the salt in your diet:

- Read the Nutrition Facts labels on foods for sodium content.  Choose foods that contain less sodium.

- Limit ready-mixed sauces and seasonings, frozen dinners, and canned or dehydrated soups.  These foods are usually packed with salt.  Products labeled "low sodium" contain less than 140 mg of sodium per serving.

- Eat lots of fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables.  These foods contain very little sodium.

- Don't put the salt shaker on the table, or get a salt shaker that allows very little salt to come out.  Use salt substitute, rock salt, flake salt and "lite salt" sparingly.

- Always measure the salt in recipes, and use 1/2 of what is called for.

- Avoid fast foods, which are usually very high in salt.  In a restaurant, you can always ask the chef not to salt the food during cooking (although I've never found it necessary to do so.)

- And remember!  A little goes a very long way.  Sodium is an essential part of everyone's diet, just don't overdo it-- 2300mg a day and done.  Considering that one teaspoon of salt has 2,325mg of sodium, I'm sure we're all guilty of excessive use.

Straight from the Mayo Clinic... A little is good, too much is bad.

Your body needs some sodium to function properly because it:
- Helps maintain the right balance of fluids in your body.
- Helps transmit nerve impulses.
- Influences the contraction and relaxation of muscles.

"Your kidneys naturally balance the amount of sodium stored in your body for optimal health. When your sodium levels are low, your kidneys essentially hold on to the sodium. When sodium levels are high, your kidneys excrete the excess in urine."

"But if for some reason your kidneys can't eliminate enough sodium, the sodium starts to accumulate in your blood. Because sodium attracts and holds water, your blood volume increases. Increased blood volume makes your heart work harder to move more blood through your blood vessels, which increases pressure in your arteries. Such diseases as congestive heart failure, cirrhosis and chronic kidney disease can make it hard for your kidneys to keep sodium levels balanced."

"Some people's bodies are more sensitive to the effects of sodium than are others. If you're sodium sensitive, you retain sodium more easily, leading to fluid retention and increased blood pressure. If this becomes chronic, it can lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and congestive heart failure."

As tough as it may be, those are some pretty good reasons to put the shaker down.

Be well,


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