For some time now I’ve been a feature writer for Fitness Republic, your one-stop shop for health, fitness and nutrition news. My latest article hit close to home since my mom developed a heart condition that was attributed to maintaining a diet that was not heart-healthy. You know what turned her life around and pretty much saved her life? Cut sodium out of her diet almost completely and what happened? She no longer needs her heart meds and she lost more than 50lbs in one year JUST by watching her sodium intake. Did she do Beachbody workouts 7 days a week? Nope. Did she run laps around the neighborhood for hours on end? Nope. She’s proof that if you eat right, you will absolutely achieve your health and fitness goals. But back to how cutting sodium out of your diet just might save you. You’re welcome in advance. 😉
Sodium has been gaining more of a reputation these days, however it remains to be a silent killer for many. While sodium is essential to our health, too much of it can cause some serious health risks. The average American consumes about 3,400 milligrams of sodium a day, more than double the 1,500 milligrams recommended by the American Heart Association. What is the problem with this statistic? Excessive sodium consumption causes more deaths than any other single dietary factor, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Frightening right? There are many ways cutting sodium out of your diet will benefit your health!
1. Reduce Sodium for Weight Loss
Feeling a little bloated? That can of soup you throw in your lunch could be to blame! Although sodium doesn’t cause permanent weight gain, maintaining a high-sodium diet can cause a lot of water retention which can lead to temporary weight gain. If you have a love for salty foods, your body will retain more water to help dilute the sodium, so think about that the next time you want to fit into your new pair of skinny jeans! According to the American Heart Association, about 75 % of the sodium we eat comes from sodium added to processed foods and restaurant dishes. Food labels cannot claim a product is “healthy” if it has more than 480 mg of sodium per labeled serving for individual foods or more than 600 mg of sodium per labeled serving for meals or main dishes, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture.
2. Healthy Heart
According to the CDC, 10 percent of cardiovascular disease is caused by consuming too much sodium. When there’s a high amount of sodium in the bloodstream, it pulls water into your blood vessels that increases the total volume of blood inside. Due to more blood flowing through, your blood pressure will increase as a result and your heart will be forced to work overtime. This stress is hard on your heart, so you want to do what you can to help your body out. The problem is that sodium is everywhere! It’s important to make a conscious effort to look at food labels and limit eating out to control the amount of sodium you are consuming. Just because you’re not picking up the salt shaker doesn’t mean your food isn’t packed full of sodium already. Eating less bread, cheese and processed meat are ways to maintain more of a heart-healthy diet. Consuming high amounts of sodium can also lead to stroke, heart disease, and heart failure.
3. Lowers Your Blood Pressure
According to the American Heart Association, 77.9 million American adults have high blood pressure and kids are twice as likely to develop high blood pressure by maintaining a high-sodium diet. For some people, consuming an excess of sodium can lead to heightened blood pressure. As previously stated, consuming excess sodium increases blood flow which results in an individual having high blood pressure. It’s especially wise to decrease your sodium consumption as you age since your blood pressure will naturally rise as you get older. According to the CDC, globally, high blood pressure is the most important and preventable risk factor for cardiovascular disease death and disability. The American Heart Association also reports that about 90% of Americans are expected to develop high blood pressure over their lifetimes. Just by cutting sodium from your diet, you can create a recipe for a healthier life down the road. The American Heart Association further states that if Americans moved to an average intake of 1,500 mg of sodium per day, it could result in a 25.6% overall decrease in blood pressure and an estimated $26.2 billion in healthcare savings.
4. May Reduce the Risk of Osteoporosis
Studies have shown that there is a correlation between salt intake and calcium excretion in young and adolescent women and suggests that reduced peak bone mass may be a result of a diet high in salt. A reduced peak bone mass would mean being more at risk of developing osteoporosis later on. In addition, a Japanese study found that older women who consumed the highest amount of sodium had more than four times the risk of a non-vertebral fracture than a group of women who maintained a diet that was low in sodium. Better safe than sorry! You want to work on building strong bones, not weakening them. Focus on consuming vitamin D and calcium to help maintain a healthy bone structure.
A lot of people tend to treat fat like the #1 health offender when really, all the facts point to sodium being the biggest bitch of all time. If you’re wondering how your food is still really delicious, yet low in fat…you might want to check that salt content. Although some of us crave those salty foods, it’s time to break up the hot and heavy relationship, but don’t worry, you can still be friends. In doing so, you can lead a longer, healthier life.