This week I wanted to reasearch salt/sodium & the effect too much has on our body & its connection, if any, with weightloss. I think most people know too much salt isn't good for us. As to why exactly that is, I was a bit clueless. Here's what I found out...
Salt is made up of sodium and chloride. It is the main source of sodium in our diet. Sodium is a mineral needed by our bodies to regulate fluid balance, contract muscles & conduct nerve impulses. Turns out we need about 920-2300mg per day according to National Health and Medical Research Council (NH&MRC) in Australia. Various other numbers are touted around the web but essentially a good rule of thumb is approximately 1 teaspoon per day.
Risks of a diet high in sodium:
When we take in too much, particularly in the form of table salt, we are at risk of all of this:
Kidney problems and kidney stones
Certain types of asthma
And if people are carrying too much body weight, they are also at increased risk of developing high blood pressure and heart disease.
However, extreme diets very low in sodium can be just as dangerous as those too high. So always best to be aware of the range that is recommended and try to stick to that.
Most people these days, aware of high sodium dangers, don't add too much salt to their meals each day, right? Perhaps just a little in cooking. But we can look at making lovely flavours without the salt. There's plenty of other flavoursome options:
Bay leaves, marjoram, nutmeg, onion, pepper, sage, thyme, curry powder, garlic, Rosemary, mint, garlic, onion, oregano, ginger, marjoram, paprika, tarragon, dill, dry mustard, lemon juice, cinnamon, cumin, parsley & basil. That's hundreds of spice combinations right there!
Many foods like whole grains, meat and dairy products, naturally contain traces of sodium, while processed foods tend to contain a lot of salt. And if we are big consumers of processed foods, this is where the mg's start to really add up. And of course this is another really good reason to cook meals, as much as possible from scratch using as many single ingredient items as you can. Obviously this isn't always practical but where it is possible, this is an ideal switch we can make over time so we know exactly how much sodium we are adding.
Maybe some of your favourite things are high in sodium? I guess you need to weigh up the pro's & con's. Could you switch some part of it so that you can reduce the sodium? Could you do without it as often, maybe have a smaller portion? Food for thought.
As for general processed foods, its important to always check out the nutritional panel on the package and see if you can make a better choice. This is particularly so for cereals, bread, soups, dressings, sauces, crackers & biscuits, cheese & nuts. Also, use fresh poultry, fish, and lean meat, rather than canned or processed types as often as possible. Limit smoked, cured, or processed beef, pork, or poultry and load up on fresh fruits & vegetables - naturally low in sodium!
Salt/Sodium & Weightloss:
Sodium is associated with water retention but maybe not exactly in the way you would think. When its consumed in food nearly 100 percent of the sodium is absorbed. Water is then temporarily retained until the body can re-align sodium and water balance by excreting excess sodium and water in the urine.
Salt in itself doesn't contain calories and doesn't cause your body to gain or lose fat but high consumption of salt results in temporary weight gain as it causes your body to retain water. On the flipside, low consumption of salt can result in temporary weight loss as it causes your body to rid itself of water. Crash diets low in salt often appear successful with a quick reduction in water weight but once you stop eating that way, the weight comes straight back on.
Is one salt better than any other:
I googled alot about this and website after website consistently named highly processed & refined table salt as a product to be avoided. The less refined or unprocessed the salt, the better it is and the advantage is that it contains other minerals important for good health. In Sarah Wilson's 'I Quit Sugar Cookbook' she recommends either Celtic or Himalayan salt which is said to be far less refined but then of course Wikipedia states that like all other salts, too much can still result in all the same risks.
I'm guessing the happy medium is seeking out a more unfrefined, less processed salt & using it sparingly. Watch over consumption of processed & restaurant prepared foods & be aware of the recommended intake. So this weeks habit, is exactly that, looking at salt intake & getting it on track.
Have you reduced salt intake in your diet or have you changed the salt you use? What is your favourite spice combination to use at home?