Who doesn’t enjoy munching on the saltiest snacks like a heaping plate of fries or a bag of your favorite chips? Table salt, the magical ingredient that turns bland foods into deliciousness, is composed of two minerals: sodium and chloride. The truth is, we all need some sodium for our bodies to function properly. However, too much can wreak havoc on your overall health. This concern begs the question, how much salt is too much?
What Does Sodium Do to Your Body?
Before we delve deeper into how much sodium a day you should have, let’s first understand how sodium impacts the body. The appropriate balance of sodium helps with nerve and muscle function as well as balances fluid in the body.
Keep in mind; your kidneys are responsible for controlling how much sodium is in your body. If you consume more sodium than your kidney can process, then this is where the trouble starts. Too much sodium in your body starts to build up in your blood which can result in high blood pressure. High blood pressure can lead to a host of medical issues and put you at higher risk for heart disease and stroke.
Recommended Daily Sodium Intake
While sodium is important for proper bodily function, the truth is that most people consume far too much salt. How much salt is too much? According to general dietary guidelines, adults should consume no more than 1-2 grams per day or about one teaspoon per day. However, this is a general guideline. For some people, the recommended daily sodium intake is far too much. How much salt is too much comes down to other factors such as:
- High blood pressure: Consuming too much salt can cause high blood pressure which is a leading risk of developing heart disease.
- Kidney issues: An increase in salt intake can also lead to kidney disease.
- Diabetes: Too much salt can raise your blood pressure and cause fluid retention that can be dangerous for people with diabetes.
- Over the age of 50: Typically, people over the age of 50 are asked to consume less salt simply because people are more susceptible to health issues as they age.
If you fall into one of these categories, then you may be more sensitive to sodium and should seek specific guidance from your doctor or dietitian.
Lifestyle Changes to Lower Sodium Consumption
If you take a moment to read the labels of the foods that you eat, you’ll quickly notice the high levels of sodium. To reduce your sodium intake, it’s important to make a few lifestyle adjustments. Here are a few quick tips to lower your salt level each day.
- Choose your food carefully. Make sure that you take a look at the label on any prepackaged foods so that you’re fully aware of the sodium content in the foods that you consume.
- Make sure that your meats are not injected with a sodium solution. Sodium levels of unseasoned meat are much lower than those that are injected with sodium, broth, or other solutions.
- Skip the condiments when possible. Condiments are often packed full of sodium. Some of the worst culprits of high sodium are mustard, soy sauce, and ketchup.
- Look for “no salt added” labels. Many canned vegetables have salt added, but there are options without it. If you can, choose the “no salt added” option or thoroughly rinse the canned vegetables before preparing them.
- Remember to taste your food before adding additional salt. You may be unnecessarily adding salt to foods that already have plenty.
- Learn to season without salt. Consider using other herbs and spices for seasoning your foods, such as onion or garlic.
How Too Much Sodium Can Impact Heartburn
Failure to lower your daily salt intake could have a negative impact on your health. One of the most common and unfortunate conditions created by high sodium intake happens to be heartburn. If you’ve never experienced this condition, it’s when you feel a rush of acid that comes up through your esophagus into your mouth. It is a completely unpleasant experience that makes it difficult for people to eat certain foods or even lie down after eating.
Research has shown that people who consume large amounts of sodium are more likely to experience heartburn. This information is important to know because it could mean that learning to avoid large amounts of salt could help you avoid this problem.
If you’re regularly experiencing heartburn, know that this is not a condition that you must live with. You can receive prescription heartburn medications through Rosemary Health. Start your online visit today to begin your heartburn treatment plan!
- AORN Journal (November 1998) - Anatomy and physiology of the kidney
- International journal of molecular sciences (December 2020) - Sodium Intake and Heart Failure
- The Heart Health Foundation - Salt and heart health
- British Society of Gastroenterology (December 2004) - Lifestyle related risk factors in the aetiology of gastro-oesophageal reflux