According to the American Heart Association (AHA), heart disease has been the leading cause of death in the western world for the last 2 decades (that’s as far back as I checked), including this year, even with the pandemic (as it currently stands). And the number of people dying from heart disease is increasing each year.
To top it off, at least 7 of the top 10 causes of death in the western world are from lifestyle related diseases.
There are a number of contributing lifestyle factors, however salt is the one I want to focus on.
The average American eats about 3,400 milligrams sodium a day. The AHA recommends no more than 2300mg of salt per day, “moving toward an ideal limit of no more than 1500mg per day for most adults. Because the average American eats so much excess sodium, even cutting back by 1,000 milligrams a day can significantly improve blood pressure and heart health.”
If you research the amount of sodium in most take away meals it is anywhere from 1000mg – 2000mg for a burger depending on how many extra are on it, such as cheese and bacon. Chips are an extra 100mg – 300mg depending on the size, add in some more for those who like it extra salty along with tomato sauce/ketchup.
One slice of pizza can have 145mg – 500mg depending on the toppings.
One of the so called ‘healthy’ franchises has more sodium in their wraps (2222mg to be exact) than some of the leading burger chains have in their unhealthy burgers.
So why is salt in larger amounts bad for us?
The problem is that salt, along with sugar is really tasty. And mixed together they are really delicious. Even our pets start to enjoy these foods too much.
Which means we want it in large quantities.
When we taste salads or fruits they can seem quite bland because our taste buds desire the sugary and salty foods.
Too much salt can dehydrate your body, which then causes the blood to thicken. When the blood is thick it makes it really hard for your heart to pump the blood throughout the body, causing high blood pressure.
For some people the extra sodium causes the body to retain water which is also a strain on the heart to pump blood around the extra weight.
Excess salt has been linked to hypertension which is a risk for heart disease.
Too much sodium can increase your risk of stroke, heart failure and kidney disease.
Some people are too busy to prepare food for themselves so they eat out, have takeaways or microwave meals daily. These are filled with salt.
Add to this a few cups of coffee, some sodas and very little water and you end up with chronic dehydration.
The good news is that heart disease, kidney disease and a number of the other diseases are lifestyle related diseases. Which means they can be reduced and maybe even reversed by changing your lifestyle significantly.
One way you can do this is by reducing your salt intake. Make your own home cooked meals with less salt. When you go to a restaurant be conscious of the meal you are choosing. Try to avoid fast food meals or ask for the lowest sodium meals they have.
And watch out for salads and wraps as they sometimes have more salt than the other meals!
Drink more water to keep yourself hydrated, and add in some lemon for more alkalizing and hydrating minerals. Consume celery which has natural sodium that our bodies know how to process properly.
Try healthy salt alternatives such as sea salt rather than standard table salt, but make sure to limit your intake.
Cook with dried or fresh herbs and spices to season your food.
Use celery salt (I make my own by dehydrating the celery and powdering it up)
Powdered sea vegetables are a lovely way to add a salty flavour to dishes.
Your taste buds will adjust and your body will thank you!