All foods contain a certain amount of sodium. In this post, we’ll discuss the benefits of a low sodium diet.
Sodium is used as a flavoring substitute in the preparation of processed food items and the foods of restaurants.
Food and nutrition labels are the most important part of the product’s health.
In a low sodium product, the sodium amount is always below the list. A product with 140mg of sodium is considered a low sodium product.
¼ teaspoon of sodium is our daily body requirement.
What is a low sodium diet?
A diet that contains a certain limited amount of sodium (about 2 grams, 1500-2300mg/day) is considered a low sodium diet.
Low sodium diet contains certain important guidelines. This includes limiting the salt intake (table salt and rock salt), salt-containing substitutes, canned foods and processed seasonings.
Health benefits of low sodium diet
The following are the health benefits of a low sodium diet.
1. Lowers risk of hypertension
High sodium intake increases the blood volume and elevates blood pressure levels. As compared to medication limiting the sodium to 1-3 g is much more beneficial as proved in research.
2. Lowers the risk of heart diseases
A normal blood pressure minimizes the pressure and potential exerted on the heart and provides a helping hand in the normal pumping of blood.
High blood pressure leads to the hardening and the thickening of the arteries makes them weak and increases the chances of stroke.
A high sodium diet also contains a high amount of bad cholesterol (processed foods). All the above factors are the main contributors to heart failure.
3. Lowers the risk of dementia
High salt dietary habits promote brain damages including dementia, headache, and poor cognitive abilities.
High blood pressure is a major factor to weaken the brain vessels and improper supply of blood to the brain, affects the health of the brain and its functioning.
It is up list cause of brain strokes which could be life-threatening.
4. Reduces the risk of Edema
Sodium acts as a regulator of body fluids. Sodium intake also increases the feeling of thirst and can cause dehydration.
High blood sodium level attracts the fluid from cells to interstitial tissue space.
This causes swelling and puffiness (especially around the eyes) in the body that could be severe. Reduced salt intake has positive effects on this condition.
As mentioned in a study, a low sodium diet has been used for centuries to cure cardiac edema.
5. Can help reduce the risk of Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is caused by the reduced calcium level of bones.
A study showed that high salt intake increases the leaching process of calcium from the bones hence results in bone weakness.
6. Lowers the risk of stomach cancer
Stomach cancer is on the second number on the death list caused by cancer. High salt intake from processed and canned food act as a probiotic for the bacteria named H.Pylori which present in the stomach.
7. May have a positive on cholesterol
A randomized control study published in BMJ showed that a low sodium diet has no adverse effect on blood lipids. Instead, it lowers the bad cholesterol levels in the body.
8. Lowers the risk of kidney diseases
Kidneys need a specific amount of sodium and potassium to filter blood and remove extra water. A high level of sodium causes high blood pressure by drawing less water from the blood.
This high pressure of blood damages the kidneys.
Salty food is also responsible for changing the protein and calcium concentrations of urine leading to kidney malfunctioning and kidney stones. Instead, eat foods that’ll lower blood pressure.
9. Can help control Type 2 Diabetes:
A low sodium diet can also help in the treatment of Type 2 Diabetes. A research was conducted which proved that a low sodium diet improves the symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes in adults.
10. Effects on Biomarkers of Inflammation and Coagulation
One of the important benefits of low sodium diet is its impact on inflammation. A randomized controlled study was conducted to check the relation between inflammatory markers and a low sodium diet.
A low sodium diet reduces the biomarkers of inflammation and coagulation.
What are the side effects of a low sodium diet?
- Role in the elevation of blood pressure leading towards headache, stroke, and heart failure. Thus highly restricted to hypertensive patients.
- The leading cause of edema as the excess salt causes the body to retain water, which then leads to the interstitial tissues.
- High sodium causes puffiness in the face and body (skin around the eyes is at higher risk), especially common in the morning after a salty meal.
- It worsens the symptoms like swelling and shortness of breath as the heart has to work hard to pump the added fluid.
- Extra water in the body can show up on the scale as an extra pound leading towards weight gain.
- It can cause kidney stones in the case when the extra salt doesn’t remove from the body properly.
All the above damages in the body can be avoided by consuming a low sodium diet.
How to limit sodium intake
- Food labels are the most important part of the product’s health. Read the food labels carefully. In a low sodium product, the sodium amount is always below the list.
- Mainly limit the salt intake including table salt and rock salt etc.
- Take a closer look at salt-containing substitutes, processed and canned foods, and high sodium seasonings and condiments (onion salt, lemon salt, soy sauces, and most BBQ sauces, etc).
- Try to get rid of bakery products (pizza, salty snacks, bread, etc) including ready to made food items.
- High sodium also reduces the absorption of medicines. It is also essential to take medication of low sodium formula.
- A salt shaker could be the best helper in managing the amount of salt in the meal.
A diet low in sodium not only helps in weight loss but it also has many benefits as we’ve discussed above.
A high sodium diet can lead to many complications and risk factors in the long-term usage so always go for food choices that are low in sodium.
Do let us know if you have any queries related to a low sodium diet.