Health Topics

Salt & Your Health

By DuPage Medical Group Cardiology

The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee suggests an intake of 1,500 mg of sodium per day which equals about 2/3 of a teaspoon of salt. Most of us have almost ten times that during one day. Trying to adjust your lifestyle so that you eat less sodium than normal can be quite difficult because salt is in almost every food we consume. It occurs naturally in products, but is also used as a preservative in a large majority of processed foods such as fast foods and canned soups.

Though your healthcare professional has advised you to reduce the amount of sodium you consume, you can’t avoid it all together. Your body needs some sodium to regulate the amount of water and blood in your body. Other important functions of sodium include sending signals from your brain to your nerves and muscle contractions.

Support & Guidance

high blood pressure

High blood pressure (HBP) can occur at any age to anyone. It doesn’t discriminate. In fact, over one-half of people over age 65 have HBP. One reason why HBP is common among people over 65 is because they consume too much salt. As the body ages, the taste buds are not as alert as they used to be, so more salt is needed for the same flavor food had when the taste buds were more active.

There are many things that can increase your chances of getting HBP. The common risk factors include a family history of HBP, being overweight, getting too little exercise, drinking alcohol and being of African-American descent. Uncontrolled HBP can lead to several complications such as heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, blindness and congestive heart failure. By starting to get your HBP under control now, you increase your chances of not having these complications.

You may be asking how can I lower my sodium intake if almost all foods have sodium in them. It is important that you learn how to determine the amount of sodium in the foods you eat. If you are aware of what you are consuming you’re more likely to reduce the amount of sodium in your diet. Tasting foods before adding extra helpings of salt may help you reduce the amount of salt you put on your food.

Following the suggestions to the right and changing your lifestyle to include exercise and less salt can lower your blood pressure and may reduce the amount of medicine you need. Do not change your medicine without checking with your healthcare professional.

Topics and Subtopics: Health & Diet

Physicians & Experts

Learn more about:
Receive more health tips and DMG news right in your inbox!
Sign up for the Live Life Well newsletter