Friday, February 1, 2013

World Salt Awareness Week

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By Nurse Diane

Salt has been used since the beginning of time from everything from seasoning food to preserving food. Salt is also essential for the body as well. Sodium is one of the primary electrolytes in the body.  The lack of Sodium or not enough sodium in the body can cause muscle cramps, dizziness, or electrolyte disturbance, which can cause neurological problems, or death. Drinking too much water, with insufficient salt intake, puts a person at risk of water intoxication (hypernatremia). Salt is sometimes used as a health aid, such as in treatment of dysautonomia.  The condition happened with my grandfather many years ago.  His doctor told him to stop eating salt, so he never ate it at all.  He was admitted to the hospital with hypernatremia, which is treated with an IV solution of Sodium Chloride, or salt water.
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Too much salt is also a danger. According to the CDC, Eating less sodium can help prevent or lower your risk of stroke. Current dietary guidelines recommend eating less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day. If you are African American, 51 years of age or older, have high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease, you should further reduce sodium to 1,500 milligrams per day.  Salt not only comes from the shaker on our table, but it is also hidden in many of the processed foods and drinks we consume. Some of the main sources of hidden salt according to the CDC include:
·        Breads and rolls
·        Cold cuts and cured meats
·        Pizza
·        Poultry
·        Soups
·        Sandwiches
·        Cheese
·        Pasta dishes
·        Meat dishes
·        Snacks
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Some of the tips I use include
·        Never pour salt directly on your food, shake it in your hand. Then sprinkle it on
·        pour out the water in canned vegetables, then rinse and add fresh water
·        I don’t add salt when cooking, but wait until after I get ready to eat.
·        Watch condiments, Ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise and pickles are all loaded with salt.
·        Check food labels for Sodium content.
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You can also try keeping a record of salt included in food, and it won’t take you long before you can just automatically recognize how much you are eating.   Try using a salt substitute or different seasoning such as Mrs. Dash.  2300mgs of salt is about 1 tsp.  While this may not seem like much, you can measure out a tsp, put it in a small dish. And sprinkle it on your food during the day.  You will be surprised how far it will go, especially if you put it on your food, instead of cooking it in with your food. But remember the other foods that also have it included.

This is World Salt Awareness Week.  You don't want to cut it from your diet all together, just stay within the guidelines for a healthy heart and healthy life.

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