Do you find yourself reaching for your salt shaker even for simple salads or homemade pasta? If you’re one of those people who constantly adds more salt to everything you eat, here’s why you should consider changing your sodium habits.
It’s a fact: Consuming too much salt can be harmful to your overall health. Studies have shown that an abnormal amount of salt can increase your blood pressure and is linked to cognitive decline.
Our average daily salt intake should be 2,300 grams, which is the same as 1 teaspoon. Frankly, most of us consume 3,400 grams of salt every day.
While salt should be celebrated for its ability to engage your taste buds and enhance the great flavors in your meals, it is very important to keep track of exactly how much you consume.
But is there an easy way of working out how much salt we use in a day? The good news is that there are nutrition calculators, like RecipeIQ, that can calculate the nutritional information of all your recipes: offline and online. So now you can keep track of how much sodium you consume every day and live a healthier life.
What are the tell-tale signs that you’re eating too much sodium?
#1 Thirsty all the time
A dry mouth, and a feeling of thirst most of the time: does this sound familiar? Turns out that when you add too much salt to your food, you are not only trying to satisfy your tastebuds, but you’re also upsetting your body’s fluid balance. How do you make up for this? By drinking lots and lots of water! Feeling thirsty is your body’s way of signaling that it needs more water to restore the salt balance in your body.
#2 Swollen body parts
When you open your eyes in the morning, are your swollen fingers the first thing you see and your swollen ankles the first thing you feel? Do your rings feel tighter, too? This is a sure sign that you should consume less sodium. The swelling is caused by excessive fluids in your body’s tissues and is known as edema. Edema is a symptom of an underlying health condition, or else, an indicator of the fact that you eat too much salt, which makes your body hold extra water.
#3 Urinating a lot
Do you get the urgent need to urinate in the middle of the night? This is a classic sign of consuming too much salt. Of course, this is also a symptom of other conditions, such as type 2 diabetes or an overactive bladder, so keep that in mind.
But why does eating too much salt make us urinate more than usual? Consuming high levels of sodium forces our kidneys to work overtime to help remove it from the body. This, in turn, can result in kidney disease, which results in more frequent trips to the bathroom, as well as transparent or completely clear urination.
According to the World Action on Salt and Health, excess levels of sodium can increase the amount of protein in your urine: more protein in your urine is a “major risk factor” for kidney disease. This is nothing to joke about, so if you’ve noticed that you’re trips to the bathroom are increasing, it’s time to start decreasing the amount of salt you consume.
#4 Random, frequent, mild headaches
Headaches are not only caused by loud music or crying kids: they can also be dehydration-induced. Having too much salt makes your body dehydrated, and you may experience mild headaches now and then. Studies show that excess sodium consumption can increase the volume of blood in your body, taking up more space in your blood vessels. This expansion of blood vessels can cause high blood pressure and trigger severe headaches.
#5 Achy bones and muscle cramps
What does salt have to do with achy bones and muscles cramps? It may come as a surprise, but salt intake can be a significant obstacle to a sturdy skeleton. We’ve already covered how salt can affect your kidneys, but it does not stop there. When your kidneys can’t flush out all the salt in your body thoroughly, the result is increased calcium loss. Moreover, you may experience weak bones, which can lead to osteoporosis and even problems with your teeth from chronic calcium deficiency.
#6 Damaged arteries leading to your brain
Salt can even impact your brain function. Hypertension can damage the arteries leading to your brain, affecting your ability to think clearly. You might also find it difficult to concentrate on daily tasks. And if you are eating too much salt and experiencing dehydration, this could also lead to poor memory and slow reaction time. Not to mention that you might always feel tired.
So, what are you going to do? The good news is that it’s not all lost: you can still control the sodium levels in your body and start living a healthier life. If you think that food tastes boring without a lot of salt, then train your brain to consciously make better choices for your body. And make the transition slowly so your body has time to adjust to your new, less-salty diet. Use a nutritional analyzer like RecipeIQ to help calculate your salt intake and remember, keep your hands away from the salt shaker!