Most people wonder why their blood pressures are still reaching for the sky even on regular medication. The thing is medication only works to solve the symptom and not its source. One of the most common causes of high blood pressure is a high intake of sodium in the diet. This is why most health care professionals recommend a low sodium diet along with proper exercise and medication to people who have high blood pressure.
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What is Sodium?
Sodium is an element that is naturally occurring on most foods like meat or celery. Its most common form is table salt or Sodium Chloride. Our bodies need sodium to regulate blood pressure, control blood volume and proper functioning of our nerves and muscles.
Most of our excess salt intake comes from processed food products (common in commercially sold bacon, sausages, canned soups, etc.) in the form of monosodium glutamate, sodium nitrite or baking soda.
What is the recommended Sodium intake?
The average adult's sodium intake should only be 2,300 mg per day, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2005). Did you know that 1 teaspoon of salt contains 2,300 mg of Sodium?
What happens when there is excess Sodium in the blood?
Our kidneys are the main regulator of sodium levels in the body. Sometimes, when we consume too much salt, our kidneys are unable to eliminate sodium properly and blood levels increase. Since sodium attracts and holds water, fluid buildup occurs. This leads to high blood pressure and fluid retention. This is serious for persons with congestive heart failure or kidney diseases - the reason why a low sodium diet is recommended.
How can I control the amount of Sodium in my diet?
A low sodium diet is not really designed to help you lose weight. It is to help those suffering from or at risk for high blood pressure. A low sodium diet is easy to follow, as long as you are mindful on what you put into your mouth. As I have said before, most of our salt comes from processed food. Sodium Chloride helps in preservation and greatly affects taste. Meanwhile, most recipes (or is it all?) call for salt or some alternative. I'm sure you have noticed that in every table in any restaurant, there is always a salt shaker. So how can you avoid sodium?
Most of our favorite snacks or food products do come in a 'low sodium' variety. You just have to take the time to read some labels. Supermarkets today have a ''Health Lane" where alternatives are available. And while you're there, look for some herbs and spices to shake up your usual salt-bathed dishes. Most of the things we use to flavor our dishes such as ketchup or soy cause also contain sodium limit use as much as possible. Also, when your ingredients already naturally contain sodium (meat, celery or milk) lay off on the extra. Lastly, remove that trusty salt shaker from your view. These little steps can help you slowly wean off salt - and finally get you on the low sodium diet.
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Go for the natural sources of sodium found in most fruits and vegetables. The sodium found in fresh meat and poultry are lesser than their processed counterparts. Hey, there's no harm in going for green!
Take these steps towards a low sodium diet to help you better manage your blood pressure.
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