Low Sodium Diet Basics
- Why be on the low sodium diet
- Salt and Sodium are not the same
- Harvard Medical School Guide to Lowering Blood Pressure
- How to get started with a low sodium diet?
When we embarked on our journey, almost a decade ago, we where looking for better health, lower blood pressure and a pharmaceutical free life. The food we eat is loaded with salt, because it makes for cheap flavoring. It is marinated, salted and after cooking treated with finishing salt.
According to the “Harvard Medical School Guide to Lowering Blood Pressure”, the average American consumes about 3,300mg of sodium a day, the level recommended by many health organizations is less then 2,300mg a day. The guide also states that your body only needs 250mg a day*; and that about 10% of our sodium intake comes from naturally occurring sodium contained plants and meats. That means by looking at the sodium levels consumed we will get enough sodium for the bodily needs without adding a grain of salt.
* Harvard Medical School Guide to Lowering Blood Pressure, pg 13 & 56
Average Sodium Consumption by American______ 3,300mg
Recommended by most health organizations_____ 2,300mg
Your body’s daily sodium needs_____________________250mg
Sodium is only one of the ingredients in salt, so we are trying to put in perspective in the photo below from left to right. We used a good grade coarse sea salt for the measurements and according to the label, that sea salt contained 386mg of sodium per one gram of salt.
From left to right, 3300mg equates to 8.55g of salt, 2300 to 5.96g and finally the 250mg for your body needs equates to 0.65g of salt.
Working the numbers a bit more, if your intake is at 3,300mg per day, you basically consume over 3kg of salt a year.
According to the Harvard Medical School Guide to Lowering Blood Pressure, salt attracts water and gets into your bloodstream, where it increases the volume and drives up your blood pressure.
Switching to a no salt added diet seems for many as a really difficult or an impossible step; it is actually not that difficult. Initially, you have to get adjusted, since most of our food is very salty, everything without salt will at first taste bland, until your taste buds adjust; and you will taste the natural occurring salts of the ingredients. This will happen in the first couple of weeks.
When transition to a low sodium diet, two important questions to ask yourself:
-How much sodium am I about to put in my body?
-How will that make me feel after?
You need to know your answers in order to stay focused & become selective every time you open your mouth to eat or drink.
First and foremost, start reading food labels & begin to pay close attention what you buy. It is also helpful to be familiar with the sodium content in fresh produce and meats. You will also want to go through what you have in your refrigerator & pantry, read the labels and determine what you should keep and what not to buy going forward or even get rid off them now.
Next, when eating out, have a basic understanding how restaurants prepare their food so you can make better decisions what to order when you are dining out.
Last but not least, we will share some tips on getting the right support from family and friends and when you have social gatherings.