How Salt Affects a Woman's Body

When I ask other women about sodium in their diet, the most common response I get is “I hardly ever use salt on my food.”  Unfortunately, the amount of salt you shake on your meals is usually NOT the main source of most people’s sodium intake. Sodium exists in practically every kind of processed food there is and currently Americans receive about 80% of their salt intake from the sodium added to processed foods.  

Our bodies only require about 500 mg of sodium a day.  To put it in perspective, that would be equivalent to approximately one handful of salt & vinegar potato chips. Now comes the scary part, Americans typically consume as much as 6,000-8,000 mg of sodium a day!  You may be thinking too much sodium is a hazard you only need to consider if you are concerned about high blood pressure, but the truth is the harmful effects of sodium are even more far reaching, causing health problems ranging from weight gain to vision problems to cardiovascular disease.  It’s worth noting that our bodies are built to protect us from prolonged harm.  When it comes to regulating sodium in our body, all our cell membranes contain sodium-potassium pumps that work to help eliminate excess amounts of sodium.  The trouble begins when these tiny pumps become overloaded with a continual heavy intake of salt which can prevent them from maintaining the proper concentration of intracellular sodium.

Similar to other tissues in our body, our eyes can be affected by the bloating that results from too much sodium. When bloating occurs in the eye (edema), the alignment of the eye's internal components become misaligned, resulting in vision problems. Studies have shown that China, Japan, and other Asian countries have the highest consumption of dietary salt in the world, and these countries also have the highest prevalence of nearsightedness.  

It’s important to understand the distinction between weight loss and fat loss when considering the effects of sodium on your body.  Salt does not actually have any caloric value and therefore does not contribute to adding fat to your body.  The main reason too much salt in a woman's diet will prevent you from reaching your weight loss goal is because it causes your body to retain water in an effort to protect your tissues from the irritating effects of sodium. To get a sense of what that irritating effect is like to your bodily tissues, you only need to consider how it feels when you get a bit of salt in your eye.   When you read about “crash diets” that claim quick weight loss, it’s usually because the eating plan relies on foods with little to no sodium content. That being said, the quick weight loss you experience if you are successful in sticking to these programs will be mostly water and as soon as you go back to consuming foods with salt again, you will regain all the weight.

At the end of day you should be trying to keep your salt intake as low as possible.  500mg of sodium per day may not be reasonably sustainable for most people, but you should aim to keep your salt consumption between 1500-2000 mg per day.  You can make big gains in reducing your salt intake by simply eliminating processed foods from your eating habits. Also, increasing the amount of clean, filtered water you consume will help to flush excess sodium from your system.

To find out more about achieving a healthy and vibrant life come visit us at Urban Madonna.

No comments:

Post a Comment