What does salt do for us?
Salt, as an additive or in the shaker, is the primary source of sodium in our diets. Sodium is imperative to regulate the body’s amount of fluid and help ensure the muscular and nervous systems are working properly. Salt is incredibly important to our well-being, but like most good things, too much can cause real problems. The following 6 simple signs may indicate that you are eating too much salt in your diet.
You are thirsty, a lot.
When you consume too much salt, the body needs extra fluids to wash out the sodium and re-establish its natural balance. If you aren’t continually sipping water, you may feel a dry, puckered sensation in your mouth and experience frequent thirst. If you continue to consume salt, this will worsen until the excess sodium is expelled from your body.
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You need frequent urination breaks.
Sodium makes the body retain water, which then spurs the kidneys to work overtime to keep your fluids in balance. When your kidneys become more active, your bladder fills quicker, causing more frequent trips to the restroom. Frequent urination can also be a sign of more serious conditions like diabetes or anxiety. If you find your urination habits interrupting your life, talk to your doctor about achieving relief.
You are swollen or have large bags under your eyes.
Excess sodium is hard on your kidneys. As your kidneys fight to balance your body’s fluid levels, some excess fluid can get pushed into the space between cells. This process is called edema and may cause symptoms such as swelling in the feet and large bags under the eyes. Cut back on the salt, and you will look and feel ten years younger with a fresh face and mobile feet.
You put extra salt on your french fries.
When you go to McDonalds, do you put extra salt on your fries? If you are always the one reaching for the salt, there is a good chance that you are consuming too much sodium. Some people can build a tolerance to the flavor of salt and need more and more to achieve the taste they desire. Don’t quit cold turkey, but try cutting down on the salt to boost your health and enjoy the chef’s special as intended!
You get frequent headaches.
Too much salt can lead to dehydration and actually shrink the brain! When the brain shrinks, it shifts away from the skull, causing significant pain. To combat a dehydration headache, be sure to consume water so the brain can rehydrate. If a shrinking brain isn’t enough to keep us all from eating too much salt, I don’t know what is!
You get kidney stones.
Kidney stones are mineral deposits that may form in the kidneys and cause core-shattering pain when they make their way from the kidneys out through the urethra. If you have ever had kidney stones, you know that this journey is best avoided if at all possible. When you eat too much salt, you run the risk of increased uric acid amounts in the blood, which can lead to kidney stones.
But I don’t even own a salt shaker.
If you are trying to do everything right, have tossed the salt shaker, and try to avoid salt pork, you still may be getting too much sodium. Salt tastes good, so commercial kitchens use a lot of it. Remember, just because you season responsibly for your body doesn’t mean a restaurant or food manufacturer will; their goal is to sell flavor. Food doesn’t have to taste salty or have salt in the name to be loaded with sodium, so watch your labels carefully.
You’re right. I’m eating too much salt. Now what?
In this case, knowing is half the battle. Now that you are aware that salt may be negatively affecting your health, you can begin to reduce your intake and look for improvement. To reduce your salt intake, read food labels carefully, and keep track of your daily sodium in a journal or app. Cooking at home is not always the most fun, but it is the best way to keep salt intake controlled and monitored. Experiment with herbs, meats, vegetables, and even teas to add big flavor to a dish without adding salt. Consult with your doctor about your ideal daily intake and how you should go about limiting your daily sodium.