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What is Wrong with Too Much Salt Intake?

Posted in: Nutrition, Conditions
By Dr. Pantea Etminan, NHD
Aug 30, 2012 - 12:46:05 PM

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As a society today we consume far too much sodium compared to our ancient ancestors whom only consumed salt in its natural form. The ancient diet contained far more natural nutrients, including much larger amounts of minerals and vitamins, in particular potassium, which helped to balance the sodium. Today, we consume more than 10 times the amount of sodium as we do potassium.

Many studies have shown the harm and relationship between high sodium intake and heart disease, which would include, hypertension and cardiovascular disease. An article in Internal Medicine showed a study which was done that showed the relationship between sodium and potassium to heart disease. The research revealed that a high intake of sodium combined with low intake of potassium increased the risk of heart disease by more than two folds and increased the risk of cardiovascular death by almost 50 percent. Also, a high sodium to potassium ration raised risk of death by almost 50 percent. This would suggest even more impact on health and cardiovascular system.

What has Changed in Our Life Today?

In ancient times food used to be consumed in its whole natural form and was not processed. Therefore, all the nutrients were intact and consumed, allowing the people to get all the nutrition from the food they ate. As the expansion of our society and more advancement has taken place, more processed foods have found their way onto the market place and in our plates. This has translated to more packaged, canned, frozen or prepared foods which, most likely, would contain loads of preservatives including sodium and chemicals. Sodium has been utilized for years to preserve food, so it is understanding that packaged foods would contain such high amounts. But with more modern technology, perhaps, we do not have the need for so much sodium and other chemicals to be placed in foods that are consumed by humans. Yet, there seem to be more and more chemicals coming out every year that are made to be placed in our food supply aside from salt.
Our body is not built to metabolize and process all these chemicals and sodium. Yet, how many people do we see on daily basis who consume such foods? Perhaps, loads of it. Aside from the high sodium and low potassium and other mineral along with vitamins--these package foods that contain such amounts of chemicals present hazard to our well being. The chemicals that are being used are simply not made for us to ingest and will not properly assimulate rather will cause health issues. The added high processed sodium factor (which has clearly been shown to have detrimental effect on cardiovascular system) just makes the matter lot worse.

Ratio of Sodium to Potassium is Important

Sure, salt is a mineral that we all need. But only in its natural state along with plenty of mineral potassium. In addition, there are other minerals and vitamins that help to balance sodium intake which are void in prepared packaged foods. The ratio of salt to potassium is at the least 1 to 10, while the ration of our intake today is exactly the opposite on the average. You see where the problem is?

Highly processed foods, usually, lower the nutritional value of food content while adding more salt, sugar and other chemicals to enhance the taste of food. This places an effect upon your taste buds making you crave and want more of it. That is why you cannot put that bag of potato chips or cookies down. The more processed foods you'll consume, the more likely you are to be more hungry and want to consume more food. This is because processed chemicals and sodium act such as MSG to trigger your taste buds while giving you a certain high. In long term these types of foods will only rob you of your nutrition in the body while placing your health in harm's way, promoting health issues.

By the way, to make sure that I am explaining this appropriately for all to understand, these foods would include all fast foods on the market today.

What is the Key to Eating More Potassium?

It is really not that hard at all. Whole fresh foods--just like the way our ancestors used to do it. Just make sure that your diet would include at the least 80 percent of whole fresh foods such as:

  • Whole vegetables of all kinds (green leafy greens, crucified vegetables, squash, root veggies, pods)
  • Whole fruits of all kinds (berries, melons, citrus, banana, avocado, tomato)
  • Whole grains (with much more moderation)
  • Whole seeds and nuts (in moderation)
  • Whole tea leaves (green, white, oolong, black, herbal)
  • Whole spices (could be used as grounded)
  • Whole herbs

If the whole foods above could be organic, much better. Because organic would mean that they are void of pesticides, herbicides, and chemicals that we don't need. As a matter of fact, we would want to avoid them as much as possible, even if we are in great health. No human should be consuming laboratory manmade chemicals that cannot be assimulated appropriately or at all in our system. Especially, if you already have some standing health issue that you may be struggling with. Chemicals do not only not help but they may make things worse for your health.

These whole foods contain loads of vitamins, minerals and nutrients--all in the right amounts that our body's need. Do they have sodium? Sure they do, some even have more than others, such as mushrooms. But the way that nature has created them is just in the right package, so when you eat them you get that package in its whole form. Usually, the whole foods would contain a lot more of potassium and other nutrients than sodium. Even the sodium in the whole foods would be metabolized and recognized by the system a lot differently than processed sodium.

What Salts are Better for You?

Avoid adding processed salt to your meals if possible at all. In case that you do need to use some salt in your cooking, choose one of the more whole healthier forms and only in great moderation:

  • Himalayan salt
  • Sea salt
  • Low sodium soy sauce
  • Braggs Amino Acid
  • Sea Weed

All these mentioned above still would contain sodium, just in much more natural balance. Himalayan salt would be the best option, as it comes from nature and contains good amounts of potassium and other minerals. Still yet, we must not forget that it is salt and it should not be consumed in large amounts.

What if You Want to Have that Special Something

Yes, we all have something that we may love to eat that may not be all that great for us. Well, if you are eating well at the least 80% of the time, then you could treat yourself to that something once in a while without much harm. Of course, it is best to make best choices of even those guilty pleasure. Even those guilty pleasures are tastier and better for you if you watch for what is in their ingredient list. Yes, there are many out there that use better and healthier forms of ingredients. Most commercial corporations utilize more chemicals, GM ( genetically modified ) and inferior ingredients in their foods. So, it is worth checking the ingredient list. In addition, when you cleanse your taste buds and body from all that junk and chemical, you will notice the difference. You would not even like stuff like that anymore. Life is about eating good foods and providing goodness for our body and health--not providing chemicals and illness. Why not make better choices for our health and wellbeing?

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