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Salt: What’s in your kitchen and fridge may be killing you

Salty food is tasty. It can make us lick all our fingers the way a gluttonous dog licks its bowl.

Stores sell iodized and non-iodized salts. ‘Iodized salt’ refers to salts that contain iodine. Unless one has iodine sensitivity, I see no reason why anyone would choose non-iodized salt over iodized salt; Iodine is necessary for our health in small doses.

Sodium and chloride make up the primary chemical composition of salt. About two-fifths or 40 percent of the salt is sodium.

Both sodium and iodine have roles to play in the body. However, people who are in the habit of eating highly salty foods are at risk of many serious medical foods, such as high blood pressure and stroke.

Lack of awareness about the sodium content of tasty foods, drinks, or snacks is partly to blame for people’s high salt intake. An average American consumes five to ten times the amount of sodium needed.

My eyes widened when I discovered the amount of sodium in my favorite cheese, a discovery that made me switch to a lower sodium brand. I hope readers do the same. Look up the sodium content of your favorite foods and snacks, salad dressings, breads, and bagels, and consider switching to a safer alternative.

Sodium balance, high blood pressure and aging

Human beings have about 100 grams of sodium in the body, most of which flows into the blood mixture. The body always strives to achieve a range of sodium balance in the blood, excess sodium that we don’t need is removed through urination, sweating, or bowel movements. On the other hand, when the body is short of sodium, it absorbs more through the kidneys.

However, eating salty foods for a long time can overwhelm the body’s ability to maintain that balance. Also, with aging, when levels of physical activity decrease and kidney filters become duller than an old kitchen knife, the body retains more sodium.

A large amount of sodium in the blood absorbs water from the body, creating sodium-saturated blood, distended blood vessels, and high blood pressure.

Food industries: and what I found in my fridge

Profit is what motivates the food industries. The corner store that flips the hot dogs, the cafeterias that ask you if you want breakfast, and the chefs behind your favorite restaurants: none of them care about your health and well-being. Salt sells their merchandise and salt is what you get.

Even dieters and weight watchers are fooled by the amount of salt they consume. I woke up one morning with a mission: find sodium in the fridge. A glass bottle of sauce on the side rail contained 520 mg of sodium per tablespoon. To the right of the glass bottle, a plastic container of yogurt ranch salad dressing has 280 mg of sodium in two tablespoons, and the tomato paste next to the yogurt ranch has 160 mg of sodium in one tablespoon. As you can see, sodium intake increases very rapidly.

Now what?

Sodium exists in many natural foods. Get your sodium from natural sources like apples, berries, vegetables, eggs, milk, herbs, shellfish, and many more.

Like sodium, iodine is found in natural foods. Sources of iodine include kelp, seaweed, milk, eggs, fish, yogurt, shrimp, beans, and fruits or vegetables grown in iodine-rich soil.

How much salt do we need?

Sodium is not all bad. Helps maintain blood flow through the arteries and veins. Another way that sodium helps is to facilitate the entry of molecules such as glucose through the cell wall and into the cytoplasm.

One-half teaspoon of iodized salt, which contains 1,163 milligrams of sodium and 200 micrograms of iodine, is enough to meet most people’s daily sodium and iodine needs. People with high blood pressure or liver, kidney, or heart failure may need to further limit their sodium intake.

Combining iodine with salt is a convenient way to help people meet their iodine requirement. The thyroid gland, located on the sides of the neck, needs iodine to produce thyroxine, an important body hormone. Mental decline, weight gain, and goiter are some of the signs of a malfunctioning thyroid gland, which may be due to iodine deficiency.

11 Tips to Stop the Sodium Attack

• Check the table salt in your kitchen today. Does it say iodized salt?

• Watch the sodium content of the foods and snacks you eat and the seasonings you add to your meals.

• Cook your own food and don’t ask for salt in food you eat out.

• Half a teaspoon of iodized salt is enough to meet our daily needs for sodium and iodine.

• Natural foods are better alternative sources of sodium and salt.

• Ask stores for no-salt or low-salt products.

• Know the sodium content of everything you put in your pot or plate.

• Read all food labels, especially packaged and processed foods.

• Have your blood pressure checked at least once a year, and more often if you have high blood pressure.

• Don’t rely on taste; check online for the sodium content of your favorite meals, snacks and condiments.

• Diarrhea, profuse sweating, and the use of certain diuretics may require increased salt intake.

Disclaimer: Nothing in this article is intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition. The information provided is based solely on the experience and understanding of the author. Readers should seek the advice of their own physicians and nutritionists.

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