A high sodium diet can cause a lot of issues for your health and fitness plans. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute recommends no more than a teaspoon of salt per day. That may sound like a very low amount, but sticking to it could really be doing your body a favour.
Too much sodium interferes with the body’s ability to flush out water. At the correct levels, sodium is vital for maintaining healthy water levels in the blood and organs. But too much of it means the kidneys struggle to process it all. This can cause oedema, or bloat, or give you a layer of “water weight” that stops you getting the results you are working towards.
If you have generally low body fat but are struggling to shift the final layer covering your muscles, this could well be due to water weight.
If an excess sodium has retained too much water, this can increase your blood pressure to potentially dangerous levels. If unregulated, this can pose a serious risk of heart attack and stroke. This is especially problematic as there are often no symptoms of high blood pressure until you have it checked by a doctor.
A high intake of salt can weaken your bones. This is due to sodium drawing calcium out from them, thinning the bones. This means if you consume too much salt of a regular basis, you are at a greater risk of developing osteoporosis.
Stopping for a water break every 2 minutes can really hamper your workout momentum. However, too much salt means your body needs extra water to flush out the excess sodium. Your body will often make this very clear to you, making you feel like you are thirsty all the time.
How do I reduce my sodium intake?
Firstly, ditch the table salt. It may improve the taste of your food, but sprinkling salt over your food is a sure fire way to overshoot your recommended allowance. Try experimenting with different herbs and spices to enhance your cooking.
Secondly, ditch convenience food. Salt is used as a flavour enhancer and as a preservative, so it is found in tons of pre-made foods. Making your own sauces, condiments and meals is ideal for controlling your sodium levels. This is also good practice anyway, as it helps you control your calories and reduces your intake of processed foods, which your digestive system will thank you for.
Check all your packaging. Sodium can creep into all kinds of foods, so check everything you are putting in your basket. You might be able to guess the main culprits like crisps or soy sauce. But certain brands of bread, butter, frozen meat and tinned vegetables can also send your salt levels skyrocketing.
Fresh vegetables and other foods that boast plenty of soluble fibre should also feature heavily in your diet to help reduce excess salt in your body.