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Sodium Overload

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Last week I wrote a post on grocery shopping tips. I thought I’d revisit the topic and talk about the drawbacks of taking in too much sodium. As a person who is adamant about reading labels in detail of ingredients, I have to admit that until I approached the phase of menopause, I wasn’t too well-versed in the effects that sodium had on me. At that time, my focus was more on fat, fiber and sugar content. But as my bloating days were becoming more frequent and my love for Sushi (soy sauce anyone?) never faltered, I discovered how much excess sodium was a culprit in the distention of my stomach.

 

Health guidelines state we shouldn’t take in more than 2000-2500 milligrams daily and I can tell you, with today’s food industry, you really have to become a detective to be aware of all the sneaky ways sodium gets in our diets. For a shocking preview, next time you are in a grocery store, pick up a can of any chicken soup (which isn’t labeled low-sodium), and take a look at the sodium content. Most cans will list around 480 to 800 milligrams per serving and there is usually two servings to each can, which really doesn’t make it difficult to eat the whole can when it is merely a low calorie soup. Eating that can of soup would bring you to almost half or just over the amount of sodium we should be ingesting in a whole day. All that sodium just from soup?

 

 

Just about everything we eat contains sodium. It’s up to us to become diligent and pay attention to the numbers. Too much sodium can cause seriously high blood pressure, leading to cardiovascular issues.

Fast food outlets produce some of the highest amounts of sodium. Many sauces and marinades we buy pre-made have exceedingly high levels.

I was cleaning out my fridge the other day and I think we all have those bottles in our fridges that stay pushed to the back because we either forget they are there or no longer use them. I decided to stop being a packrat and toss the things I wouldn’t eat and that take up space. I came across a bottle of salmon marinade that I hadn’t used for TWO YEARS! Yes, I knew it was there but hadn’t used it for a few years and yet it hadn’t gone off. That is scary in itself. Sodium and preservatives can make for a frighteningly long shelf life.

Before I finally tossed that bottle, I looked at the label and saw that the whole bottle (8oz.) contained over 9000 milligrams of sodium – 460 milligrams per teaspoon! Holy crap! It wasn’t uncommon to use half a bottle when preparing a meal for two. That is 4500 milligrams divided by two equaling 2250 milligrams per person, just as a marinade! Frightening! No wonder I had stopped using it.

 

I am not a big salt user and I cook almost everything from scratch and make most of my own dressings and marinades for the past few years now. When cooking, I add some sea salt for taste and never put a shaker on the table.

 

Often if I am in a restaurant and order a soup, I find my mouth is overwhelmed with salt and I don’t eat it. Many cooks will add extra salt to bring certain foods back to life – YUCK, or may have no idea what too much is. My taste buds are the first indicator to sodium overload. Next comes the distention of my stomach and swollen feet and fingers. These are sometimes indicators you have taken in a lot of sodium (especially if it isn’t due to a medical issue).

Do your homework. Read labels. Prepare your meals in healthier ways and your heart will thank you.

 

DGKaye ©2014

 

 

 

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D.G. Kaye is a nonfiction/memoir writer, who writes from her own life experiences and self-medicates with a daily dose of humor.

27 Comments

  • aedmonds315

    Since I was a kid my mom never had salt on the table. When you grow up in a house where there is a child with kidney disease you learn to eat food without adding that extra salt. And I cook fresh veggies, meats with just A pinch of sea salt and other spices. It’s usually all that’s needed.

    You are so Right a bowl of soup in a restaurant is loaded with salt. And the packaged foods out there are loaded with sodium. It’s staggering just how much salt is in everything.
    Great post DG.. 😀

    • dgkaye

      Thanks for your feedback Annie. It sounds as though we may cook along the same guidelines! I thought I’d put up the post to help others become more aware. 🙂

  • Aquileana

    Hello DG…

    That was a very informative posts, with salty flavor 🙂

    Seriously, tahnks for sharing it…

    I tend to use salt and find difficult to put it asside, but I have trying to use spices , like marjoram, dehydrated onion, thyme, sometimes and moderately, garlic… All those may be good and they add taste to our meals.

    Canned aliments are truly high in sodium, that’s (sad but ) true!…

    Best wishes and hope you have a very nice week ahead,

    Aquileana 😀

    • dgkaye

      Thanks for your feedback Aq! Yes, using herbs are wonderful for health benefits and great flavours. 🙂 Happy week to you too! 🙂

  • Carol Balawyder

    Great reminder about salt intake. I tend to favor more salt to sweets although I love chocolate and now I’ve discovered salt covered caramel chocolates. Oh, dear!

    • dgkaye

      So we have more in common with the cravings, lol? May I suggest one of my favourite treats? I am pretty good with my healthy eating but every night after dinner I must have a few squares of chocolate. I got addicted to Green and Black’s organic milk chocolate with sea salt! Yum, you get both flavours packed together.:)

  • elainemansfield

    Hi Deb,
    An important and informative post. I’m a nutritionist so have guided many in moderate to low sodium use. I’ve also written about it. I don’t seem to be particularly salt sensitive but don’t eat large amounts, since I don’t eat processed foods or sauces. Do you know the research about foods that cause dopamine surges in our brain? The research is conventional and well respected. The big three as we might have guessed are fat, sugar and salt. Combine two of them and the brain goes haywire. Combine all three and we are flying. Easy to get this info with a google search on “fat sugar salt dopamine “Here’s to our healthy bodies.

    • dgkaye

      Thanks for your wise input Elaine. I have studied nutrition and follow a healthful lifestyle for decades. I am all about natural foods and living holistically. In the coming year, I plan to write more about it but as certain issues come to my immediate attention, I sporadically write about them here for now. There is much truth to “Food Kills”.

  • Let's CUT the Crap!

    My hair stood on end when I read about all the salt in a can of s.o.u.p. Ouch. I’ve been cooking from scratch so long, I haven’t read any labels. When my father was sick, he couldn’t have salt so my mom found substitutes. He wasn’t happy but I tried them and was / am fascinated. Try Mrs. Dash. That’s the answer: a combination of spices. There are different varieties you can buy or make yourself.

    http://www.food.com/recipe/mrs-dash-seasoning-20729

  • coastalmom

    Soooo here is one place where we aren’t alike! I love salt. YOU are the better one for your postiton. I know. And I know it isn’t good for me! When I was little, I became allergic to the strep bacteria and for some reason it attacked my kidney and I got something called Merrill acute Nephritis (spelling?) Anyway, I had my 6th birthday in the hospital under a strict salt free diet. My poor mom could not find a cake without salt in it! Even milk has salt in it and the ones who don’t… Well, YUCK! But ever since my mom was extra cautious about too much salt and perhaps because of that time in my life… I pile the salt on! I know, I know, Sooo not good for me!

  • Holistic Wayfarer

    Great shot, the one that spells out SALT. The natural sodium in vegetables (esp celery) is exactly the type our body needs. Flavors and salts broth wonderfully. And in this heat, I do a little bit of gray sea salt for the minerals.

    • dgkaye

      Always nice to know we are on the same page! Yes, we do need minerals but not all that bad added sodium for ‘fake’ flavor. 🙂

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