The organic benefits of a low sodium diet

One of the main sources of sodium is standard table salt. The average American eats five or more teaspoons of salt each day. This is approximately 20 times more, per day, than your body needs. In fact, your body only needs 1/4 teaspoon of salt each day.

Sodium controls fluid balance in the body and maintains blood volume and keeps your blood pressure under control. If you eat too much sodium, your body might raise your blood pressure and cause unnecessary fluid retention, which will lead to swelling of the legs and feet  as well as other serious health problems. This process happens slowly over time and a person may not even notice these until major health issues arise.

Most health care practitioners that we have ever talked with about high blood pressure recommend a common target of eating less than 2,000 milligrams of sodium each 24 hour period. This sounds like a lot but it really is a small amount. If you learn how to read food labeling, it is pretty easy. For example, just one frozen dinner or regular size contains between 1,000-1,800 milligrams of sodium per serving and there are usually 1-2 servings in each container. So using the frozen meal as an example, just one frozen meal could easily exceed the 2,000 milligram limit. It is important to learn how to read food labels carefully.

Guidelines for cutting down on sodium

Most of us love the taste of sodium when it is added to food products. The manufacturers put some amount and form of sodium in most foods that you find in the grocery store today. They even have found ways, through tricky chemistry, to disguise sodium and still be legal with their labeling of foods in an effort to trick the consumer. Today, we talk about some practical ways to cut down on your sodium intake:

  • Eliminate salty foods from your diet and reduce the amount of salt that you use in cooking. Sea salt is the same as regular table salt. Do not be fooled!
  • When grocery shopping: make low sodium food choices. Many salt-free or reduced sodium products are available today. When reading food labels, low sodium is defined as 140 mg of sodium per serving.
  • “Salt substitutes” are sometimes made from potassium, so read the label. If your doctor has you on a low potassium diet, then check with your doctor before using those salt substitutes.
  • Be creative and learn how to season your foods with spices, herbs, lemon, garlic, ginger, vinegar and pepper. Remove the salt shaker from the table. Pepper is an herb and it is also an antioxidant! So learn to use more pepper in place of the salt! You might find that your taste buds will adjust after some time.
  • Learn to read food ingredient labels. This can not be stressed enough. Learn to identify foods that are high in sodium. Ingredients with 400 mg or more are high in sodium. High sodium food additives include: salt, brine or other items that say sodium, such as monosodium glutamate.
  • Try to take a little more time cooking and prepare home-cooked meals. Foods cooked from scratch are naturally lower in sodium than most instant or boxed meals.
  • Do not use softened water from cooking as it usually contains added salt.
  • You can avoid medications which contain sodium such as Alka Seltzer or Bromo Seltzer.

High sodium foods compared with low sodium alternatives

Meat, Poultry, Fish, Legumes, Eggs and Nuts

High-sodium-

  1. Smoked, cured, salted or meat in any can,fish or poultry including bacon, cold cuts, ham, frankfurters, sausage, sardines, caviar or anchovies
  2. Frozen breaded meats and dinners such as burritos and pizzas
  3. Canned entrees such as ravioli, spam and chili
  4. Salted nuts
  5. Beans canned with salt added for flavor

Low-sodium alternatives-

  1. Any fresh or frozen beef, lamb, pork, poultry or fish
  2. Eggs and egg substitutes
  3. Low-sodium peanut butter
  4. Dry peas and beans (not canned)
  5. Low-sodium canned fish
  6. Drained, water or oil-packed canned fish

Dairy Products

High-sodium-

  1. Buttermilk
  2. Regular and processed cheese, cheese spreads and sauces
  3. Cottage cheese

Low-sodium alternatives-

  1. Milk, yogurt, ice cream and ice milk
  2. Low-sodium cheeses, cream cheese, ricotta cheese and mozzarella

Breads, Grains and Cereals

High-sodium-

  1. Bread and rolls with salted tops
  2. Quick breads, self-rising flour, biscuit, pancake and waffle mixes
  3. Pizza, croutons and salted crackers
  4. Prepackaged, processed mixes for potatoes, rice, pasta and stuffing

Low-sodium alternatives-

  1. Breads, bagels and rolls without salted tops
  2. Muffins and mostly ready to eat cereals
  3. All rice and pasta, but do not add salt when preparing
  4. Corn and flower tortillas and noodles
  5. Low-sodium crackers and breadsticks
  6. Unsalted popcorn, chips and pretzels

Vegetables and Fruit

High-sodium-

  1. Regular canned vegetables and vegetable juices
  2. Olives, pickles sauerkraut and other pickled vegetables
  3. Vegetables made with ham, bacon or salted pork
  4. Packaged mixes, such as scalloped potatoes or Au Gratin Potatoes, frozen hash browns or tater tots
  5. Commercially prepared pasta and tomatoes sauces and salsas

Low-sodium alternatives-

  1. Fresh and frozen vegetables without sauces
  2. Low-sodium canned vegetables, sauces and juices
  3. Fresh potatoes, frozen french fries and instant mashed potatoes
  4. Low-salt tomato or V-8 juice
  5. Most fresh, frozen and canned fruit
  6. Dried fruits

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or health care provider. We encourage you to discuss with your doctor any questions or concerns that you may have regarding your current dietary restrictions based on your overall health condition and past family history available. It is a good idea to bring and medications bottles that you are taking, including over the counter supplements, so that your doctor can get an accurate picture of your daily intake.

More on dietary restrictions & food allergy testing

It is very easy to ask your primary doctor to give your a referral to an allergy doctor for food allergy testing. This will help you to narrow down certain types of foods that you may not be able to eat and will improve your health in general. We mention this in our article today because we had this test done recently and found out that we are allergic to many common foods like wheat (which in some form is in most foods today), rice and some forms of Barley products.

In addition to testing for foods, the allergy doctor will also test your for trees and different types of grass allergies depending on where you live. Why is this important? Because pollen from plants in certain parts of the country will blow through the air onto neighboring plants in microscopic amounts and there you become allergic to certain foods as they are processed in the manufacturer’s processing plants.

Today, it is becoming more and more difficult to eat low sodium foods because food manufacturers put sodium in just about everything. Why? Because it is cheap to mass produce and it simply makes bland foods taste better. Another big reason is that they use sodium as a food preservative. So take control of your health and learn to read the labels! Talk with your doctor and find a knowledgeable professional dietician who can help you to make smarter food choices.

Where to find professionals who know about making good food choices

Most people who do not have issues with their kidneys do not think about getting advice from a local dialysis dietician! Now days there are dialysis units in most major cities. You can call them on the phone and talk with the dietician about your general diet concerns for free! We like free around Organically In Tune.com. We would suggest to do a little research on your own and jot down a few questions before calling. It is okay to talk with a dialysis dietitian if you are not on dialysis. They are always willing to talk/help people so that they do not get blood pressure so high that they eventually become a dialysis patient!

Go ahead and Google either DAVITA dialysis clinics or FRESENIUS dialysis clinics and your will find many, many of them. If you tell the person who answers the phone that you have dietary concerns and you think that you may have high blood pressure, most of them will talk with you.

As always we hope that this article has been a help to you. Please use the comment form below with any feedback.

 

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