Saturday, December 13, 2008

Low-Sodium Diet Benefits

Human blood contains about 0.9% salt (sodium chloride), and this salt ratio is important for a healthy metabolism, and to maintain the electrolyte balance inside and outside of cells. This appears to be a very insignificant amount, and yet, for those who've experience blood-pressure problems, obesity and several other hypertension-related issues, we know this isn't something to be ignored! Especially as the trend changes towards eating more junk-food rather than balanced home-cooked meals, it becomes even more compelling to watch your sea salt intake, and make sure your salt-to-water ratio is maintained correctly. There are a lot of benefits of switching to a low-sodium diet. Its safe, and will prevent most health problems, and best of all, it's not too hard to follow!

Salt can make your blood vessels and body tissues swell and fill with fluid. This puts an extra strain on your heart and can increase blood pressure, causing Hypertension.

We've all known for some time that people with hypertension can lower their blood pressure by reducing the sodium in their diets. What we didn't know was whether, by consuming less salt sea(sodium chloride, the main form of sodium in the diet), these folks would also lower their risk of heart attacks. Well, recent studies have shown that this is indeed true in most cases, as can be said by the experiments conducted by John Hopkins University, in which candidates having pre-hypertension (diastolic pressure between 80 and 89 mm Hg and a systolic pressure less than 140 mm Hg) were subjected to a low-sodium diet; the results showed that these people faced 30 percent less chance of heart attacks and strokes, angioplasty, and coronary artery bypass later in their lives - similar results have also been published by the British Medical Journal.

However, it is important to know that the results did not prove whether sodium restriction will either lower blood pressure or decrease the number of heart attacks and strokes in people who have neither hypertension nor prehypertension.

Yet, as a writer for a health blog, I believe that Prevention is always better than Cure - you don't have to drastically reduce your salt intake if you do not suffer from Hypertension. But being an Indian, I know its very easy to slip some extra salt into your diet without realizing it. A serving of Ketchup, some salt on your fries, a pinch of salt in your cake where you don't need it all, or regular intake of soy-sauce based food are just a few ways that you can get more sodium into your system than required!

My grandmother has Hypertension, and though her doctor has banned all salt from her diet, at 76, its hard for her to exercise control unless forced to! My mom has started showing signs of high blood pressure too, and seeing her have to pop a pill a day, I'm more inclined to restrict my sodium/salt intake rather than face medication prescribed for life!

Even if you are not a big health fellow, its a matter of educating yourself and your loved ones, and taking things in control. A little less salt will never make your food un-tasty, but a little more than required that goes into your system can create troubles for life.

A low sodium diet(less than 1500 mg per day) is certainly recommended if your blood pressure is higher than normal, 120/80 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg); For others, moderate sodium restriction(2300 mg per day) is beneficial, erring towards eating lower rather than more. Here is a great list of low-sodium foods if you are looking for alternatives. A few simple changes in life will go a long way in preventing Hypertension and other Heart-related diseases. Talk to your doctor about this and take the first step towards a healthier you!

Note: The author is not a licensed nutritionist or doctor. Please take this article as a reference read only, and not as a medical advice.

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