Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Fight the Bloat

Over the past couple weeks I've watched my waistline expand.  It was really starting to depress me.  I ran down every single possibility and tried to reverse it.

Too much snacking?  I stopped munching as much
Too many carbs?  I cut out some of my complex carbs.
Is it the stress?  I tried to relax more.
Not enough exercise?  I pushed myself a bit harder at the gym.
Not enough water?  I drank more water.

NOTHING worked!!!  As I was about to sit down to lunch and admit defeat, it hit me.  The past couple weeks during every meal I've been covering my food it sriracha.  Sriracha, a bottle of yummy, delicious, dietary destruction.  Sriracha has 80 mg {or 3% of your RDV} of sodium in 1 teaspoon.  I have probably been using ATLEAST 3 times that at each meal.  So, let's do some quick math.

So, every day I was getting 1200 mg of added sodium.  45% of my daily value from the sriracha!  45% might not sound like alot but, a) I normally don't add salt to anything, and b) it's 45% on top of the sodium naturally found in the food I eat.  

What?  Food has sodium??  Yes.  Here's a few examples:  
Almond milk -- 160 mg (7%)
Skim Milk -- 125 mg (5%)
Apples -- 2 mg of sodium (0%)
Celery -- 32 mg (1%)

Sodium is actually an element.  It's abbreviated Na on the periodic table and it's atomic number is 11.  Your body actually can't function without sodium.  According to Medline Plus (Link) "The body uses sodium to control blood pressure and blood volume. Sodium is also needed for your muscles and nerves to work properly."  You need a proper balance of sodium in your diet.  Just like everything else, too much is bad and too little is bad.  

There are health risks involved with long-term high sodium levels.  
  • Headaches
  • Bloating
  • Kidney Disease
  • Stomach Cancer
  • Heart Failure
  • Stroke 
  • High Blood Pressure
Luckily it's easy to reduce your sodium levels.
  1. Use fresh meat, fruits and vegetables instead of packaged - Packaged meat (especially bacon and ham), and canned fruits and vegetables are processed with sodium.  
  2. Buy "fresh frozen" vegetables - Don't use the ones that have added seasonings or sauces.
  3. Compare brands - Not all foods are made the same.  Different brands have different sodium contents.  Check and find the one with the lowest.
  4. Use salt-free seasonings - Mrs. Dash has a wide variety of spice blends.  Also, get the spices that don't have sodium in the ingredients 
  5. Get in the kitchen - Whenever possible make dishes from scratch instead of using packaged or pre-made varieties.  
Once you lower your sodium levels you can possibly see improvements in about a week.  

Warning:  Eating too much sodium isn't good for your health but, eating too little can be harmful too.  It is very rare for someone to suffer from a sodium deficiency (also known as Hyponatremia).  If you cut back on salt you still need to make sure to get your recommended daily value.  

In conclusion, PUT DOWN THE SALT SHAKER!  Get creative with your seasonings.  Save your health!  

What's your relationship with sodium? Do you salt everything or nothing?

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