I came home from kindergarten, and my mom noticed my face was swollen. My hands and feet began to swell also. I had, and still have, an auto-immune disease known as Nephrotic syndrome. It is a nonspecific disorder in which the kidneys are damaged, causing them to leak large amounts of protein from the blood into the urine. Naturally, a low-salt diet is recommended when the kidneys are compromised. There are several ways healthy and not-so-healthy adults can go easy on the salt.
Eating too much salt really isn’t as dangerous as it seems. Most people’s kidneys are capable of providing an exit for all the sodium and chloride their mouths take in-even 10 times the average daily amount. However eating too many salty foods can cause some problems:
- Your kidneys will have to work extra hard.
- You may excrete other important minerals along with the extra sodium and chloride in your urine.
- You will need more water in your body to help balance that extra sodium.
- People with high blood pressure may have kidneys that do not work very well. When your kidneys cannot get rid of the extra salt, chloride and water. This retained fluid can result in high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, and kidney disease.
Benefits of a Low-Salt Diet
- Lowers blood pressure for those who have high blood pressure.
- Reduces the risk of osteoporosis-sodium chloride competes with calcium re absorption by your kidneys.
Tips for Lowering Your Salt Intake
- Cook without salt. Add salt to your food later at the table. Cook with salt-free spices and sour flavors such as lemon.
- Eat less sugar if you are salt-sensitive. Scientists have determined that salt-sensitive individuals get even higher blood pressures when they add sugar to their diets.
- Increase your potassium intake by eating healthy foods that naturally contain potassium. Potassium helps you excrete more salt in your urine. Bananas, raisins, spinach, chard, milk, potatoes baked with the skin, lima beans, and prunes are potassium rich foods. Read more about the benefits of potassium at Web MD.
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Use salt-substitutes. You can purchase salt-substitutes in your local grocery store. In Super Life, Health by the Editors of FC&A Medical Publishing, one should know that using some commercial salt substitutes that are high in potassium can put you at risk for potassium overload, especially if you have kidney problems. Diamond Crystal Salt Sense is potassium free.
- Avoid processed foods and fast foods. Most salt intake comes from these sources. Look for low sodium products.
Cawood, Frank W., Super Life, Super Health. Peachtree City: FC&A, 1997.
Kemper, Donald W., MPH. Healthwise Handbook. Boise: Healthwise, 2008.
Rashap, Jeanne. Well-Informed. Charlottesville: The Workcare Group, Inc., 2004
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