Its no surprise to see the growing awareness among people to switch to low-sodium alternatives, as they understand how high sodium intake is related to weight gain, hypertension as well as heart diseases. Salt increases fluid retention in the body, leading to excessive weight gain and edema. I have done a precious post about the benefits of a low-sodium diet, but this time, we focus specifically on how it can help control weight gain. Obesity is on the rise in the US, and it is our responsibility to evaluate where we stand in our dietary choices so we can avoid obesity in our families.
Sodium & Obesity
A person who gains weight has a higher calorie requirement. There are two reasons for this. Having to carry a greater mass around and service a more massive body uses more calories. And having a bigger surface area means greater heat loss, since heat lost is proportional to surface area. - A greater calorie requirement results in greater appetite/hunger, so, really, overweight people need to eat more than people of normal weight. If the overweight eat insufficient calories (i.e. if they 'diet') they may lose weight, but it is at the cost of being hungry. There has never been the slightest evidence that the practice of fewer calories in and more calories out by way of exercise reduces obesity! - It is often confidently stated that fat will be lost by doing this. - Sadly, what is more often lost is lean tissue, usually an irreversible adverse effect.
Contrast this with the right way to lose weight - by eating less sodium. - Eating less sodium releases some of the excess sodium and water held in the blood stream. This lowers the blood pressure and, significantly, lowers the weight. - Weighing less results in a lower calorie requirement so very gradually less food is eaten and this becomes a virtuous circle because less food eaten results in lower sodium intake.
How Much Sodium Do You Really Need?
Most people who are following a weight-loss diet tend to watch out for fats and sugars but often neglect to think about the sodium content of foods. Most health authorities suggest limiting sodium to between 1,500 and 2,400 milligrams a day. (The body only needs about 400 to 800 milligrams of sodium a day.) Yet most Americans eat closer to 3,500 milligrams a day. A single meal at a fast food joint can easily contain well over 1,000 milligrams of sodium.
Most sodium we eat is from salt (sodium chloride), but sodium is also present in MSG (monosodium glutamate), in baking powder, in bicarbonate of soda (aka sodium bicarbonate or baking soda) and in a few other compounds which are sometimes added to food or to drinks. So its important to read food labels carefully, so you can keep an eye on the sodium content. On labels, more than 0.5g of sodium (1.25g salt) per 100g is high, less than 0.2g sodium (0.5g salt) is low.
Sodium Substitutes in Cooking
If you find it hard to cut down on salt, do it gradually. Your taste will gradually change. Try using pepper, herbs such as basil, chives, lemon grass, rosemary or coriander, spices such as chilli or ginger, balsamic vinegar or lemon juice, rather than salt, to add flavour to your food.
If you feel you must use salt in cooking or to sprinkle on your food, you could try using LoSalt or Solo Low Sodium Sea Salt. - These mineral salts contain only about a third of the sodium present in ordinary salt and taste very similar to salt. This is still a high proportion of sodium, so use as little as you can manage and try gradually to reduce the amount you use.
There is ample evidence to prove that high sodium intake leads to several problems in the human body. And certain groups of individuals, like babies and children, pregnant women with high oestrogen levels, older people, people on prescribed medication or steroids are more prone to hypertension and obesity caused by salt sea diet. I always say its good to be prepared than sorry - so if you still have any doubts about benefits of low sodium diet, and how its linked to obesity or weight control, I hope this article helps clarify some issues.
The next time you try to grab that packet of ketchup to slather on your fries, think about what you are getting into your system, and stop right there! Of course, you can use some hummus or fresh vegetable yogurt dip instead!