May 5, 2013

Sodium and The Silent Killer

Never in my life did I ever think to look at the sodium content in the food that I eat. I've always checked out the usual four (calories, carbs, protein and fat) but I really didn't think that I needed to pay attention to sodium.

That is until I wore my Bodybugg for a few days. The software that comes with the Bodybugg kept telling me that my sodium was astronomically high. The first day it happened I thought it was no big deal. Then the second day the same thing and then the third day again I was over. This is when it was brought to my attention that I was consuming WAY too much sodium. There was one day that I consumed twice the daily recommended amount.

Being the big nerd that I am, I went onward to Google to see what the heck happens when you consume too much sodium.

The first thing I found was that it causes high blood pressure. This immediately reminded me of my brother. My brother is 5 years younger but for the past few years I have been hearing him say that his physician has warned him about his high blood pressure. About a year ago my brother kept telling me that he was eating broccoli and chicken in an effort to lower his blood pressure. Since I've always had awesomely low blood pressure it never registered with me that it could be a problem. I mean obviously we associate high blood pressure with bad health, but in my head it was something that older people (and my brother) dealt with.

However, upon looking it up on Google I found that it is called "The Silent Killer." (I can't imagine a doctor nicknamed it It is called "The Silent Killer" because it usually has no symptoms and the only way to find out if you do indeed have high blood pressure is to put on that puffy cuff at the doctors office. Okay, okay, you can go to CVS and sit in that little machine in the back by the pharmacy and it will tell you the same thing...but I much rather prefer a nurse tell me over that machine.

Okay, so it causes high blood pressure. So what?

So what?!?!? High blood pressure is a huge deal!

High blood pressure makes your heart, the most important vital organ in your body, pump harder. It also affects your arteries because they absorb the impact of the blood that the heart is pumping out harder. Imagine a baseball pitcher and a catcher. The catcher in this scenario is the arteries. So if the heart (the pitcher) is pitching nothing but curve balls, well the arteries catching the blood. Over time, the heart and the arteries become tired. This causes the heart to enlarge and weaken and the arteries to lose their elasticity and eventually harden.

High blood pressure also increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, kidney failure and congestive heart failure.

So how can you lower your sodium? Well from what I noticed just reading labels over the weekend, there is a ton of sodium in EVERYTHING!!! It's like our foods are infused with salt before it even gets to the salt shaker on our kitchen table.

So what can you do!?!?!

Well, it goes back to basics again:

  • Meat
  • Chicken
  • Fish
  • Vegetables
  • Fruits 
  • Yogurt
  • Nuts

All in their basic form of course!

There are also low-sodium products out there specifically made for people that have high blood pressure. From what I gather, eating foods that are less than 140mg of sodium per serving is considered okay. It is said that an adult should not exceed 2,400mg of sodium a day.

So what the hell am I going to do to reduce the sodium in my diet?

First of all, I'm going to read the nutrition labels on the foods I eat and find the worst offenders. Then I will eliminate or at least find better options for the worst offenders. Second, I'm going to use my Bodybugg software to learn how to budget my sodium better throughout the day. Lastly, I am going to eat more vegetables and nuts as snacks and stay away from processed foods. I already do that for the most part, but since I've never factored in sodium, I think I'm going to have to tighten up the diet even more.

Yippy for me! An even blander diet is on the horizon! Yay!!!!