Tag Archives: salt

How Much Sodium Does a Water Softener Add to Your Diet?

When you think of drinking a glass of water, you probably don’t worry about drinking a bunch of sodium. However, depending on where you live and your local water supply, you could be drinking saltier water than you have to. Many households use water softeners that contain sodium to get rid of hard water. Understanding how water softeners work and your options for softening your water will help you make the best decision for your home.

What Is the Difference Between Hard & Soft Water?

As water moves through pipes to reach your house, it can pick up minerals from the pipes and the ground. Depending on the amount of minerals in the water, chemists classify water as hard or soft. Hard water has lots of magnesium and calcium ions. Soft water has less magnesium and calcium ions but may have sodium or potassium ions instead. These ions in your water can affect everything from the water’s taste to how well your detergent works to build up in your plumbing.

The minerals in hard water can combine with detergent to produce a sticky scum that will end up anywhere you use soap. Hard water can also leave water stains on glasses washed in a dishwasher. Because of these issues, most people use water softeners to remove some of the minerals from hard water and have better-washed clothes and dishes. Soft water may feel more slippery and sometimes has a slightly salty taste.

How Do Water Softeners Work?

Water softeners are systems that contain a resin through which your drinking water passes. As the water moves through the resin, the resin pulls the calcium and magnesium ions out and puts in either sodium or potassium ions instead. These sodium and potassium ions work better with your detergent to help remove dirt and oil, to the point that you can use less soap to get everything just as clean.

Water softeners typically treat your drinking water and not water used in irrigation. You need to backwash the resin in the water softener system to remove any dirt and make sure that the correct balance of sodium or potassium ions is present to remove the magnesium and calcium. Sometimes water softening systems need more salt added to recharge the resin with sodium ions.

How Much Sodium Is Added to the Water?

The amount of sodium added from a water softening system varies based on the manufacturer and specifications of the system. Untreated tap water already has a small amount of sodium in it. If you live in an area with very hard water, you will need to add more sodium to make your water soft. Typically water softening systems add between 10 to 40 milligrams of sodium per eight ounce glass of water. While this may not seem like a lot of sodium, it presents a source of sodium that most people don’t consider when they think of dietary sodium in their daily intake.

Why Should You Avoid Salt-Based Water Softener Systems?

If you are on a sodium-restricted diet, you should avoid using salt-based water softener systems. These systems will introduce more sodium into your diet. Even if you are not concerned about the sodium, these systems use extra water during the backwashing phase. Salt-based water softener systems waste water because water is used to flush the system. Salt-based water softener systems are not environmentally friendly due the excess sodium pumped back into the sewer system.

There are options for non-sodium based water softeners to suit your needs. Saltless water softener systems do not use chemicals or salts of any kind. No added salt means that your water is not slippery or salty tasting. Because there is no salt, the salt-free water softener systems do not waste water or add sodium to the sewer system.

When dealing with hard water in your home, you have options to keep your plumbing free of buildup and your dishes and clothes as clean as possible without using excess detergent. Understanding the differences between the various water softening systems can direct you towards the system that will work best for your home. Which system would you prefer for your home?

10 Ways To Ditch Your Cravings for Sugar, Salt, and Fats

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According to a recent article in the New York Times, “Food Corporations Turn to Chefs in a Quest for Healthy Flavor,” Big Food companies like PepsiCo, Kellogg’s, and even fast food giants like Taco Bell, are changing their ways in response to the increasing public demand for healthier food options. To improve their image as healthy food manufacturers, Big Food corporations have called upon top chefs to help them create healthy menu makeovers, infusing real, fresh, whole food into old recipe favorites.

Why is this happening now? Intense pressure brought on by politicians and their constituents (you and me!) has given these food manufacturers no choice but to respond to the public outcry for healthier food. It’s no longer enough for these companies to earn a profit by selling food that tastes good. People are beginning to use the power of the pocketbook to show these companies that the food they sell must also be nutritious.

That’s because people everywhere are waking up. They are beginning to see the dangers of genetically modified ingredients and all the sugar, salt, and fats hidden in our food supply. From fancy restaurants to fast food chains, chefs are catching on that people want their food to make them feel good, not just while they are eating it but hours, days, and years afterward.

Really, this news shouldn’t make the headlines. This is common sense! Paying for food that makes us sick is as crazy as shooting ourselves in the foot. It just doesn’t make sense.

Big Food is finally getting the message and getting on board.

But remember, no processed or fast food option will ever be better than a healthy home-cooked meal. The best way to ensure you are eating the highest quality, most nutritious food possible is to prepare your own food in your own kitchen. We are all chefs. You don’t have to be trained at Le Cordon Bleu to know your way around a kitchen. You just need a little knowledge, some imagination, and a sense of adventure.

A desire for real food is a fundamental part of our basic biological blueprint. Given the chance, our taste receptors will naturally gravitate toward the inherent sweetness found in vegetables, fruits, and even nuts and seeds.

So, how do you reprogram your taste buds to ditch the cravings for sugar, salt, and fats? You can start by eating real, fresh, whole foods. Avoid fake, commercialized foods that come in convenience packages or are made in a lab.

Here are 10 more tips to get you excited about ditching the sugar, salt, and fats:

  1. Sauté or roast your veggies to bring out their natural sweetness. Properly searing your chicken or meat brings out the inherent sweetness by way of the Maillard reaction. This is a fancy name for what happens when you create that nice, brown crust on your meat. Want more cooking tips like this? Check out The Blood Sugar Solution Cookbook!
  2. Play with herbs like cilantro, parsley, dill, basil, and oregano to add flavor and phytonutrients! Finish a meal by adding fresh herbs before plating or serving. This last-minute addition kicks the flavor up a notch!
  3. Healthy fats found in avocado, coconut, and tahini not only increase the flavor of your meal, they also add that creamy, luscious texture found in many rich foods. See for yourself just how healthy and tasty desserts can be by trying my Dark Chocolate Silk Pudding from The Blood Sugar Solution Cookbook!
  4. Try creating a savory, umami (Japanese for “delicious”) flavor. Add moderate amounts of tamari, umeboshi plum paste, balsamic vinegar, tomato paste, dried mushroom, or sea vegetables to your next stew, soup, sauce, or stir-fry.
  5. Cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, clove, ginger, and even cayenne or chipotle pepper powder are all extremely flavorful additions to a meal. Spices like these excite your taste buds and grab your attention. This is helpful, because, as studies show, when we are focused on actually tasting our food rather than mindlessly gobbling it up, we actually need less food to feel satisfied.
  6. Befriend some kitchen must-haves like real vanilla extract or vanilla bean or coconut butter. Or use common, every-day foods like lemons in some creative ways. For example, use lemon zest to add real zing to any meal!
  7. For the most flavor, eat seasonally and locally. Canned or packaged foods or foods that have traveled great distances in the back of a truck just can’t compare to the succulence of a fresh piece of locally grown fruit.
  8. Check your hydration. Digestion starts in your mouth with your saliva, which helps us taste all the magnificent flavor in food. If you are dehydrated and not producing enough saliva, you won’t really be able to enjoy your food.
  9. Check your medications. Believe it or not, most medications interfere with the body’s ability to taste and smell. Some of them can even create an unpleasant metallic taste in the mouth. Wondering how you might decrease the number of pills you take? Learn more about functional medicine.
  10. Got nutrition? Nutrient deficiency is an important cause of improper taste perception. A lack of certain vitamins and minerals can markedly impair your ability to smell and taste food. Most Americans have several nutrient deficiencies, but there is one in particular that can especially keep you from enjoying your next meal: zinc. Try adding foods like oysters, pecans, sunflower seeds, and lentils to increase your daily intake of this important mineral. Try the recipe for Hearty Lentil Soup from The Blood Sugar Solution Cookbook. If you are deficient, you might also need to take a zinc supplement. Work with one of my nutrition coaches to ensure your nutrition status is up to par.

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For more ways to use your kitchen to take back your health, check out The Blood Sugar Solution Cookbook. Get tips and tricks for making healthy and tasty meals. Learn what foods you should eat to boost your metabolism, balance your blood sugar, and lose weight. Try more than 175 tasty recipes that appeal to a variety of budgets, taste preferences, health goals, and lifestyles.

Originally published on my website, DrHyman.com.

What’s the Deal with Salt? New Report Suggests We’ve Been Worrying Too Much

nobodylistensWe have long been warned about the dangers of sodium, including the frightening risks of heart attack, stroke, and cardiovascular disease. But according to a new report commissioned by the Institute of Medicine under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these warnings may be misguided.

Moderation in all things is wise, but according to the expert panel, there is no need to limit sodium beyond about 2,300 milligrams a day. As reported by the New York Times, chairman of the committee Dr. Brian L. Strom confirmed, “As you go below the 2,300 mark, there is an absence of data in terms of benefit and there begin to be suggestions in subgroup populations about potential harms.” These “potential harms” include increased rate of heart attacks and risk of death – exactly counter to what was previously believed!

The average daily intake of sodium in America is roughly 3,400 milligrams, equivalent to about 1.5 teaspoons of salt. US dietary guidelines have traditionally encouraged people to aim for 1,500 to 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day. To put that in perspective, if your day’s eating included two eggs for breakfast, a peanut butter sandwich for lunch, yogurt and an apple as a snack, salmon and rice for dinner, and a chocolate chip cookie for dessert (and you haven’t added any salt, sauces, or toppings), you would have only consumed just under 800 milligrams of sodium. Once you start piling on fast food, condiments, processed snacks and the like, that number will easily spike up. One cup of canned chicken noodle soup has over 1,100 milligrams of sodium…So you can see our point.

If there’s no need to heavily limit sodium anyways, though, then what’s keeping us from an all-out salt binge? The first question on our minds was: are there any conflicts of interest in this report? If the organization sponsoring the panel were simultaneously receiving funding from Coke, say, or a fast food corporation, we would have cause to be skeptical. The Institute of Medicine, however, is a non-profit, non-governmental organization, and their mission is to provide the most rigorous and unbiased health information possible.

Either way, this new information about sodium should not act as an open invitation to load your plate with table salt. If you maintain a healthy, balanced diet, then continue doing whatever you’re doing! If you’ve been stressing about sodium all your life, maybe relax a bit on that and focus more on eating wholesome food that fills and nourishes you. If you have eating habits you’d like to shake, then stay positive and set some realistic goals for yourself. At the end of the day, healthy eating is easier and a lot more fun than counting this or that.

What do you think of these findings? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!

Craving Salty Food? 3 Easy Ways to Reduce Your Sodium Intake

url-2As a child and teenager, I had a huge sweet tooth and craved sweets often.  As I started exercising, however, my sweet tooth turned savory.  And now, I like to fondly refer to myself as a “salt hound”…craving salty foods most of the time (except after dinner).  For the most part, I’m happy about this: Added sugar has tons of empty calories AND, too much added sugar in your diet is extremely bad for you.  Unfortunately, too much salt consumption is no good either.

Salt, also known as sodium, is essential to our health and well being when consumed in the right amount.  It is instrumental in:

  • Maintaining the right balance of fluids in your body
  • Transmitting nerve impulses
  • Influencing the contraction and relaxation of muscles

Too much sodium, however, can contribute to health problems – namely high blood pressure – which can lead to cardiovascular disease and kidney disease.  As a result, it is best to keep consumption to no more than 1,500 to 2,400 milligrams (mg) a day for healthy adults.  The lower your sodium intake, the more beneficial it is to your blood pressure.

It is important to note that sodium is found in both table salt, and in processed and packaged foods.  Is a matter of fact, much of the salt we consume is found in pre-packaged foods.  So, it is best to watch your intake of both.  In order to lower or minimize consumption, follow these tips:

  1. Read Nutrition Labels: Salt comes in many forms and it is important to understand the different ways it can be listed on ingredient lists.  MSG, baking soda, baking powder, disodium phosphate, sodium alginate, and sodium nitrate all represent sodium. Further, choose foods that tend to represent less than 15% of your total daily intake of sodium.
  2. Purchasing Foods: When possible, choose fresh, whole foods.  Whole foods do not contain any added salt or sodium.  If, however,  you do purchase foods that are canned, processed or packaged, always look for low-sodium or low-salt options. Also, try to cut out pre-mixed or prepared foods such as sauces, frozen pizzas, frozen dinners, frozen foods in general…as they all tend to be high in sodium.
    Here are some specifics:

    • Vegetables: When buying veggies, make sure to buy them fresh as much as possible.  If you do buy your vegetables frozen, make sure to check the ingredients for any sodium or salt.
    • Meats: Whenever possible, buy only fresh meat, fish or poultry. Processed and canned meats tend to have a lot of salt or sodium. Also, avoid cured and smoked meats.
    • Cold-Cuts: Cold-cuts are notorious for being high in sodium or salt.  If you purchase cold-cuts always opt for those varieties that are low in sodium.
    • Canned Soups: Buy and consume canned soups, broths or bouillon sparingly.  Try making your own.
    • Nuts: Avoid salted nuts and instead, opt for those that are unsalted.
    • Salad Dressings and Condiments: Many condiments and dressings are high in sodium.  Some of the worst offenders include soy sauce, teriyaki, barbecue and ketchup.As a result, try making your own or using those that are lower in sodium.
  3. Cooking:

Remember, you can retrain your taste buds.  Cutting out salt, little by little will allow you to get used to the flavor of having less salt and as a result, will help your body crave less salt.

Do you know how much salt and sodium you are getting in your diet?  Have you tried cutting back?

Originally published in 2010

Pour Some Sugar On Me: Tips To Curb Sugar Cravings

shutterstock_58650496 If you are a self-proclaimed sugar addict, like many of my clients, sometimes it feels like showering in sugar would be the only way to truly satisfy the cravings.

In recognition of the health benefits of reducing sugar intake (improved immune system, digestive system, healthier weight, sustainable energy, balanced moods, etc), here are some tips that can help curb the cravings:

1. Switch from food “products” to food: nature supplies a manageable amount of sweet in its food. Try an apple vs an apple fruit-roll up.

2. Some assembly required: Products use sugar to add shelf life as well as for taste – thus we often find much higher levels of sugar in a product vs a food. By ingredients and assemble yourself to reduce sugar intake. Plain yogurt, add your own berries, nuts, and even a little (key word) honey or stevia – you will still be lower in sugar naturally then the one with the fruit mixed in.

3. Watch your salt consumption: the mind, mouth, and reward system love the 1-2 salt-sugar punch. If we have salty food, do we crave sweet soon after? Often. So skip the soy sauce at sushi and perhaps an orange as dessert will satisfy vs needing ice cream or frozen yogurt.

4. Get sleep: when the body is tired it calls out – rather it screams – for energy (carb). What it really needs is recovery. Try going to bed when visions of ice cream overwhelm you while watching late night TV.

5. Aim for nutrient balance: too much carb or no carb at an eating occasion can set up a blood sugar hi /low that later translates to feeling like you need a sugar fix. Try pairing nutrients and keeping it to 1-2 servings of carb per eating occasion. Have an apple with almond butter vs just an apple to get carb + pro + fat. Instead of having 2 slices of bread for your sandwich and a piece of fruit at your meal – try an open faced sandwich with veggies and save the fruit (with a pro + fat) for a later eating occasion.

6. Our body’s a race car – think pit stop vs filling up the gas tank. If we have nutrient balanced eating occasions about every 3 hours our body’s energy stays in harmony – this can help fend off sugar attacks due to low energy

7. Go for it, knowingly: have your cake and eat it too! Just know that the effects of sugar in the system can last a few days – meaning that mental memory of how good it tasted and how good it made you feel (it really can give a high) will stick around long after its been digested. You may need to remind yourself the next day and the day after that your residual sugar cravings were earned by the delicious treat you enjoyed the night or two before.

8. Keep it natural: the artificial sweeteners are thousands of times sweeter than mother nature’s sugar. Thousands of times…that’s pretty powerful and tough to match. No wonder an apple may not seem sweet enough if your morning beverage was thousands time sweeter.

 

Originally Published in 2009

Salt for Warm Weather Exercise

 This month, two major reports in medical journals claim that getting people to reduce their intake of salt will save lives, prevent heart attacks and markedly reduce health costs (Annals of Internal Medicine, April, 2010; NEJM, April 22, 2010).  That may be true for many people who do not exercise, but for heavy exercisers and athletes, particularly those who are also vegetarians, it can cause cramps, fatigue, injuries and even death.

During World War II, Dr. James Gamble of Harvard Medical School showed that salt (sodium) is the only mineral that people need to be concerned about when they work or exercise for long periods in hot weather. After Gamble published his studies, people who work in the heat were given salt tablets, which is such a concentrated form of salt that they can cause nausea and stomach irritation. In the 1960s, doctors became concerned that too much salt can cause high blood pressure, so they started
recommending low-salt diets.

Excessive intake of salt causes high blood pressure in some, but not all, people.  High blood pressure increases risk for heart attacks, strokes, and kidney damage.  Many middle-aged people who start an exercise program lose their tendency to develop high blood pressure when they take in extra salt (Journal of Human Hypertension, May 2006).

Not taking in salt when you exercise for more than two to four hours can prevent you from retaining the water that you drink. It can also block thirst, so you may not know that you are dehydrated. Thirst is a late sign of dehydration. You lose water during exercise primarily through sweating, and sweat contains a far lower concentration of salt than blood. So during exercise, you lose far more water than salt, causing the concentration of salt in the blood to rise.  A person will not feel thirsty until the concentration of salt in the blood rises high enough to trip off thirst osmoreceptors in the brain, and it takes a loss of two to four pints of fluid to do that.

You need salt to retain the fluid you drink while exercising.  In one study, female competitive distance runners took in drinks with different concentration of salt during a four- hour run (British Journal of Sports Medicine, August 2003). Ninety-two percent of those who took in plain water with no additional salt developed low blood levels of salt. Taking in fluid without also taking in adequate amounts of salt dilutes the bloodstream, so that the concentration of salt in the blood is lower than that in brain cells. This causes fluid to move from the low-salt blood into the high-salt brain, causing the brain to swell which can cause seizures and death. However, the low salt syndrome, hyponatremia, that can kill athletes is usually caused by taking in far too much fluid, rather than from not taking in enough salt. http://www.drmirkin.com/fitness/hyponatremia.html

Taking extra salt just prior to competition can help you exercise longer and harder (Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, January 2007; Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine, January 2007). Athletes who took the extra salt had larger blood volumes and greater endurance. Salt makes you thirsty earlier so you drink more, and salt in your body holds water so you have more water available to meet your needs. Salty drinks taste bad, so it is easier to meet your needs with salted foods. If you plan to exercise for more than a couple hours in hot weather, drink one or two cups of the liquid of your choice each hour and eat a salty food such as salted peanuts

Taking extra salt during prolonged exercise increases thirst so you drink more fluids, and prevents blood salt levels from dropping so low that you can become tired, develop muscle cramps, and even die. You can keep yourself fresh during extended exercise by eating foods with salt and drinking frequently, before you feel hungry or thirsty. Once you feel hungry or thirsty, you will find it very difficult to regain your strength.  Commercial sports drinks help increase endurance by their caffeine, sugar, salt, and to a lesser degree, protein content. It is unlikely that any other component improves performance (The Physician and Sportsmedicine, April 2010).

What exercisers and athletes should do: I recommend that you buy a blood pressure cuff and take your blood pressure a few times a week before you go to bed.  If your blood pressure remains above 120 systolic, you have high blood pressure and should check with your doctor.  The amount of salt people need varies greatly from person to person.  If you exercise regularly for more than a couple hours, particularly in hot weather, you need extra salt. You also need more sugar in hot weather to increase endurance. When you run out of sugar stored in muscles (glycogen), your oxygen requirements rise significantly and you have to slow down. We drink Pepsi and eat salted peanuts on long rides in the summer. You may prefer pretzels or any other salty snack.

 

Best Of The Week: Cutting Out Salt!

As a country, we are eating way too much salt, which makes us more predisposed for preventable long-term diseases and health conditions, such as high blood pressure and heart disease Our daily requirement should not exceed 2,300 milligrams of sodium (about one teaspoon), which means we need to be extra vigilant about high amounts of sodium lurking in our favorite snacks, canned soups, salad dressings, condiments, and other processed foods.

This doesn’t mean we are doomed to bland food forever if we want to stay healthy. Check out the following blog posts from our Intent Voice bloggers, who offer smart advice on decreasing the salt while still enjoying flavorful food.

Craving Salt? Three Easy Ways To Reduce Sodium Consumption By Brett Blumenthal

Salt: What You Don’t Know Can Harm You, And What You Should Do Instead By Donna Gates

Stress Linked To Salt Consumption By Debbie Mandel

Eat The Good Salt! 4 Healthier Alternatives To Regular Table Salt By Renay Matthews

3 Healthy, Salty-Sweet Snack Solutions For Stress Eating By Linda LaRue

Eating Too Much Salt? 8 Healthier Alternatives To Your Favorite Saltiest Foods By Yumi Sakugawa

Don’t forget to check out our other past series on eating and living healthy! 

The Life Force Diet: The Key To Health And WellnessBy Michelle Schoffro-Cook

Intent 101: Getting Fit

Intent 101: Lead A Healthier Life

Intent 101: Losing Weight

PHOTO (cc): Flickr / danielygo /prakhar

Eat the Good Salt! 4 Healthier Alternatives To Regular Table Salt

Salt has played such an important role in human history.

Did you know salary is derived from the same root as the word salt?

We all need a certain amount of salt in our daily diet to maintain good health. You can pull minerals from natural salt not available in commercial table salt.  After table salt is “chemically cleaned” you end up with sodium chloride. This is a chemical your body does not recognize and it is common in processed and fast foods.

It is best to change your table salt in for a natural salt for you and your family. You will actually begin to love the taste of natural salt.

If you have been a table salt abuser, you may find once you stop using it your food tastes better.  Why not try some natural salt for 30 days?

Have fun in the process, there are loads of healthy good tasting salts available. 

Top Picks for Natural Healthy Salt

Real Salt
Real salt is available in powder, granular, kosher, and course grinds.

Molakai Sea Salt
Soul of the Sea. Kilauea Black is one of the few black gourmet sea salts available. This salt is made using mineral rich Molakai sea salt and activated charcol – a proven anti-toxin and digestive aid. 

Himalayan Pink Salt
While considered a gourmet salt, Himalayan pink salt can be used to replace table salt. Its taste and eighty-four minerals make this salt more flavorful and healthier than processed salts.

SageMary – Finishing Salt
A culinary bouquet of chopped fresh sage and rosemary with moist, crunchy Flor de Sal (Portuguese Sea Salt). Gorgeous salt packed of green flecks. So fragrant and evocative, you won’t know if it is Thanksgiving or if you are in the Mediterranean. Use with seafood, lamb, pork, poultry, rice, potatoes, stuffing, focaccia before baking, winter squashes, tomato dishes, eggs, Italian dishes, cooked apples or pears. Mix with olive oil and use as a rub.

Pink Salts
My favorite. Organic, Raw Sea Salt From Prehistoric Sea Beds. Unprocessed sea salt from ancient unpolluted sea beds. Unlike commercial salts, which are highly heated, damaging its chemical properties. No “flow” or “anti-clump” additives unlike many salts with toxic additives. Rich in trace minerals. I have used this salt for over a decade, I promise you will love it!

My intent is to help those who are addicted to table salt move into using a more natural salt that their body can really use.  Whatever natural salts you try, I hope you like them!

Organically Yours,
Renay Matthews

 Renay is a wellness coach practicing in Agoura HillsCalifornia and can be reached at www.elitewellnesspath.com

PHOTO (cc): Flickr / diongillard

 

Eating Too Much Salt? 8 Healthier Alternatives To Your Favorite Saltiest Foods

In addition to being a caffeine addict and a chocoholic, I can be a bit of a salty food junkie as well.

Which is why it was extremely sobering for me to learn that our daily sodium intake should not exceed 2,300 milligrams–which, by the way, is like one dinky little teaspoon’s worth of salt. Just eating about 30 pieces of salt and vinegar-flavored potato chips–my favorite salty indulgence–will already give you over a third of your recommended daily sodium intake.

As I also love having soy sauce with my sushi, I also finally learned today that just one tablespoon of shoyu will already give me a whopping 38% of my recommended daily sodium intake. By the way, I definitely use more than one tablespoon of shoyu to soak up my California rolls and salmon sashimi.

Here are 8 common salty foods–and 8 healthier alternatives that use way less salt, taste good and are much healthier for your long-term health. Pass the pepper shaker and garlic powder, please.

1. Potato chips. So good, yet so bad. According to the nutrition label of one of my favorite potato chips brand, one serving of potato chips is supposedly 13 chips and will give you only 16% of your daily sodium intake–and who in the world can actually stop eating after just 13 chips? If you are like most people, you will probably go through an entire bag in one sitting, giving you up to 50 or 60% of your daily sodium intake in just a few minutes.

Healthier alternative: Unsalted pretzels, unsalted nuts, unsalted popcorn. That, or bake your own kale chips.

2. Soy sauce. This fermented soy bean sauce is a common staple of Eastern cuisine and is so delicious when you love Asian food. But using just two tablespoons of soy sauce will already use up 80% of your daily sodium limit. 

Healthier alternative: Many soy sauce brands have a low-sodium equivalent of the original flavor. Using one tablespoon of the low-sodium version will only use up 24% of your daily sodium intake, as opposed to a whopping 40%. 

3. Canned soups. One of my favorite canned soups, Campbell’s Brocolli Cheese Soup, packs in 790mg in just 1/2 cup. If you are like most people, you probably eat at least 1 cup’s worth of soup or more, which already packs in over 60% of your daily sodium limit.

Healthier alternative: Make your own miso soup with miso paste, which requires not time at all. One bowl will only put you in the 30% range (721 mg) of your daily sodium limit. Or make your own zesty and healthy black-bean soup.

4. Salad dressing. No wonder salad dressing in a bottle tastes so freaking good; they’re packed with lots of sodium and fat. Store-bought Italian salad dressing can already give you 20% of your daily sodium limit in just two tablespoons. If you’re going to eat some fresh vegetables, don’t ruin it with super-fatty and salty dressing. 

Healthier alternative: Dress up your salad with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, black pepper and lemon juice, with a teeny-tiny dash of sea salt. Or check out a great list of light salad dressing recipes here

5. Bottled condiments and sauces. Don’t be fooled by the tiny servings; 4 McDonalds Ketchup packets will already give you 20% of your daily sodium limit. 2 packets of McDonalds barbeque sauce will also do the same. 2 tablespoons of Kraft Teriyaki Sesame Ginger Barbeque Sauce will put you in at the 25% range. 

Healthier alternative: Look out for low-sodium version of ketchup (and extra bonus if they don’t have any high fructose corn syrup.) You can also use hot sauce, honey, and homemade salsa. 

6. Frozen dinner food. There’s a reason why frozen dinner foods are not recommended by nutritionists and dieticians: just one serving of Marie Callendar’s Frozen Chicken Pot Pie (which I used to eat on a disgustingly weekly basis during college) already packs in 34% of your daily sodium limit. Oops. 

Healthier alternative: Provided that you aren’t using sticks of butter and jars of lard for your homemade recipes, pretty much anything you whip up on your own will probably be ten times healthier than frozen dinner food you buy at the supermarket. Check out quick and healthy dinner recipe ideas here. 

7. Salted nuts and pretzels. These munchies are dangerous: 10 salted pretzels can already add up to 34% of your daily sodium intake. 

Healthier alternative: Buy the unsalted version of pretzels and nuts. You’ll still get your munchie on, and it’ll be a lot healthier, too.

8. Processed cheese. Be careful if you love making grilled cheese sandwiches for a quick lunch. Two Kraft cheese slices will already give you 20% of your daily sodium intake.

Healthier alternative: Some healthier options for dressing your sandwich: hummus, Vegenaise, olive oil, and you can never go wrong with more vegetables!

 PHOTO (cc): Flickr / slugicide / monkeyc

Salt: What You Don’t Know Can Harm You – and What You Should Do Instead

Do you usually reach for the salt shaker at the dinner table? Do you find that you crave salty snacks but are afraid of high blood pressure?

Your salt craving could mean you need minerals, but regular table salt isn’t the answer.

Flavorful Poison

Regular table salt, or iodized salt, is highly refined and has additives like sugar, chemicals, and preservatives. Many of the preservatives are not required to be listed on the container and include ferrocyanide, magnesium carbonate, and aluminum hydroxide.

These extra ingredients improve the pour-ability of standard salt, but they are not necessarily meant for human consumption. In fact, high levels of aluminum are believed to be a major factor in the prevalence of Alzheimer’s in the U.S.

Standard salt undergoes a refining process that strips it of 60 trace minerals, leaving a nutrient-free flavoring. Manufacturers put this refined salt into almost every prepared food, and it’s even present in municipal water sources.

Even though it may not be the cause of high blood pressure, consume refined salt at your own risk!

Real Sodium and Real Minerals

By contrast, natural sea salt is taken from the ocean where it forms in concentrated amounts, with no added chemicals, preservatives or sugar. It contains not only necessary sodium, but plenty of minerals your body needs for each and every cell.

(Keep in mind that natural sea salt does not have high levels of iodine, necessary for thyroid function. However, the Body Ecology program emphasizes ocean vegetables, which help meet your iodine requirement without having to resort to table salt.)

The Need for Salt

Salt cravings reveal our very real need for this natural, unrefined sodium and the minerals it provides- they are necessary for health and for life.

Craving salt is a sign that your adrenals, the small glands above your kidneys that regulate sleep, hormones and your body’s response to stress, need some TLC.

Feed your adrenals with plenty of vitamins and minerals from fermented foods and drinks, leafy green vegetables, ocean vegetables, green drinks, and small amounts of sea salt.

How Much Is Too Much?

If you like to drink a cold, sweet soda with your salty popcorn at the movies, you’ve experienced first hand how salt, which is contractive, makes you crave expansive sweets. So if you crave sweets, it could be a sign that you consume too much salt.

Also, some people are very sensitive to sodium, while others (especially endurance athletes) need more salt to function. In general, men need more than women, and children need the least of all.

Especially for women, pay attention to salt intake as you follow your monthly menstrual cycle. Cut way back on salt after ovulation so that your body will naturally become more expansive. It will then relax so that the lining of the uterus will be easily cleansed away as nature intended each month. If you eat too much salt during your period, it will inhibit the release of the lining that must be shed and you will not have a complete cleansing as nature intends.

After the lining is shed, you can then increase your use of sea salt a bit to bring on a smooth ovulation. The salt helps your ovaries contract to release the egg.

Experts recommend between 1600 mg and 2400 mg of sodium per day for adults, as a general guideline (1 teaspoon of salt provides about 2000 mg of sodium). But at Body Ecology we say to follow your own intuition and cravings as long as you use only high-quality, mineral-rich sea salt to satisfy your salt needs. Listen to your body, and you’ll take in the amount you need as your body seeks balance.

While too much of anything can cause health problems, follow the Body Ecology Principle of Balance when it comes to your sea salt intake.

Choose Sea Salt

Less than 1% of the world’s salt harvest has the artisinal quality of Celtic Sea Salt®. Celtic Sea Salt provides a unique array of bioavailable trace elements that exist in a perfectly balanced matrix.

How much salt you choose is just as important as what kind you choose.

Sea salt is certainly a much healthier alternative to standard table salt and can actually improve your health.

We recommend Celtic Sea Salt®, and it is widely regarded as one of the healthiest sea salts available. Using natural cultivation methods passed down from generations, salt farmers stir the ocean water until crystals form. Once harvested, Celtic Sea Salt® is moist, pure, biologically active and completely free from chemicals.

By listening to your body and choosing to use only a very high quality sea salt, you’ll enjoy the health rewards of sodium and minerals AND your taste buds will thank you!

Sources:

Gittleman, ND, M.S., Ann Louise, Understanding Salt and Sodium, AskWaltStollMD.com, 28 August, 2004. http://askwaltstollmd.com/archives/salt/290243.html

The Grain and Salt Society, CelticSeaSalt.com

Hypertension: Junk Medicine Exposed, TheHealthierLife.co.uk, http://www.profoundliving.org/Salt_/Salt_III/salt_iii.htm

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