The American Heart Association (AHA) and the Mayo Clinic both recommend that your daily sodium intake be restricted to 1,500 mg to 2,300 mg. This is about 1 teaspoon of sodium chloride (salt).
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's 2010 Dietary Guidelines suggests that healthy American adults consume no more than 2,300 mg of sodium a day, and only 1,500 mg if you are:
- Over 51 years of age
- African American
- High risk for developing heart disease
- Suffer from hypertension, diabetes or kidney disease
The AHA and the National Institutes of Health also agree with this suggestion.Not getting enough sodium?
The body requires sodium to keep body fluids balanced, transmit nerve impulses and influence muscle contraction and relaxation. When eating low-carb, the amount of carbohydrate in our diet changes our need for salt. The body’s metabolism of salt is uniquely different when one is adapted to a low carbohydrate diet. Salt and water are more efficiently excreted, which is a good thing as long as you maintain an adequate minimum sodium intake. And although 1500-2300 mg sounds like a lot of salt, most Americans consume 3,436 mg of sodium daily, according to the AHA.A large decrease in sodium can cause:
Malaise (bodily discomfort)
All of these things are associated with what is known as the Atkins Flu. This happens to many people who are just beginning the Induction Phase of Atkins. The reason being, consuming lots of carbs makes you retain water, but shifting over to fat burning has a diuretic effect, meaning you excrete electrolytes and salt along with fluid. Fluid loss can be too much of a good thing for some. Fortunately, all of the above low-sodium issues are pretty easy to avoid.
To manage this problem, simply drink plenty of water and have either a couple of cups of broth (not the low-sodium kind), ½ teaspoon of salt or 2 tablespoons of soy sauce each day. Have one cup of broth mid-morning, one mid-afternoon; measure out the salt and sprinkle it on food throughout the day; or season foods with the soy sauce. Follow this regimen from Day 1, and you should be spared any problematic symptoms. And no, this doesn’t make Atkins a high-salt diet.*Tip: If you take diuretic medication for hypertension or other health issues, don't follow the above regimen until your doctor has told you that you no longer need to take your diuretic medication. Instead, consume the recommended amounts of water, increase your intake of leafy greens and/or add some nuts or even half a cup of tomato juice until you feel better.What are the dangers of too much sodium?
Sodium, or salt, makes your body retain water, which can add pounds to the scale. Every pound of carbs stored in your body hold 2 or 3 pounds of water and it is this water that holds the excess salt. Following a low-salt or low-carb diet may help you lose weight and keep it off, while also helping to reduce the risk of hypertension, and the other medical issues listed below. Health professionals recommend that you eat less salt and unhealthy carbs to maintain or improve your health.Too much sodium in your diet can cause:
Hypertension (or High Blood Pressure)
Congestive Heart Failure
Stomach and Intestine ProblemsWays to limit your sodium intake:
- Choose a salt substitute, like No Salt, Nu-Salt, Also Salt, Lo-Salt, Morton's Salt Substitute, Salt Sense or Magic Salt. Or, if you don't want to completely cut out the salt, you might try just cutting down by using Sea Salt.*Note: Salt substitutes are not a healthful option for everyone. Many salt substitutes contain potassium chloride in place of sodium chloride. Potassium consumed in excess may be harmful for some people. For example, many persons with kidney problems are unable to rid their bodies of excessive potassium, which could result in a deadly situation. If you have kidney problems, heart problems, diabetes, or are on any of the medications listed below for your heart, kidneys or liver, it is best to check with your physician before using salt substitutes in place of sodium.
Captopril (and other angiotensiin-converting enzyme inhibitors)
- Season your food with non-sodium herbs and spices such as:
Garlic (or Garlic Powder)
Lemon or Lime Juice
Salt-Free Herb Blends (like Mrs. Dash)
Fresh Ground Peper
- You can also find low-sodium versions of ketchup, mustard, soy sauce, salad dressing, and hot sauce at certain supermarkets.
- Buy fresh or unseasoned poultry, fish, meats, and frozen veggies or choose canned/packaged/processed versions that have no salt added.
- Cut back on salt in recipes.
- Marinate meats and veggies to tenderize them and boost their flavor.
- You could also choose to not use any salt. Tasting salt on our foods is a learned habit, therefore, it can also be unlearned Here are some great recipes for homemade salt substitutes:http://voices.yahoo.com/homemade-salt-substitutes-sodium-free-diet-62029.html
If you are trying to limit your sodium intake, you should be familiar with foods that are low in sodium.Here is a list of foods that are low in carbs and sodium:
Yellow Summer Squash
Canned, crushed Tomatoes
Sweet Green Peppers
Or a 3 oz. serving of the following:
Beef, round - bottom, tip or eye of round
Wild Rainbow Trout
Yellowfin or Bluefin Tuna
Wild Atlantic Salmon
Chicken, white meat only
TurkeyWays to deal with water retention/bloating:
If you don't drink a lot of water daily, and you know you have greatly exceeded your sodium limit for the day (or several days), here are some ways that will help you to flush out the excess sodium:
- Drink More Water - According to the University of Maine, you excrete 90 to 95 percent of the sodium in your body through your kidneys by urination. If you increase your water intake, you'll also increase your urine output--and the amount of excess sodium you flush out of your body. CBS MoneyWatch suggests drinking up to one ounce of water per pound of body weight daily, about twice the normal recommended daily intake. This will help flush excess sodium of your body in a very short time. You should only do this for 3 or 4 days at most. Dina Aronson, MS, RD writes that although maximizing water consumption is a healthy lifestyle choice, it's not a sufficient strategy by itself for reducing sodium over time. However, it can help normalize sodium levels after an unexpectedly high-sodium meal.
- Eat Spicy Foods - You also lose a small amount of sodium when you perspire, according to the University of Maine. Spicy foods will make you want to drink more water, which not only keeps you well hydrated in hot weather but also boosts urine production and thus sodium excretion. A Penn State bulletin recommends spicy foods for boosting your metabolism. It states that very hot foods can increase the metabolic rate by 20 percent for about a half hour after consumption. This will be of interest if you're trying to keep your weight down, but it's also relevant in terms of speeding up all your bodily cycles, including fluid and sodium excretion.*Note: None of these strategies will be enough in the long term if you continue eating foods high in sodium. According to Harvard Health Publications, water follows sodium; too much sodium in your body means less water in your urine to carry sodium away. CBS MoneyWatch adds that excess sodium winds up under your skin, where it attracts water. Lowering your sodium intake reduces water retention. As that water leaves your body, it takes excess sodium with it. And of course a low sodium diet means your body has less excess sodium in needs to flush out in the first place.Sources:
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