As many of you know, my sister-in-law, Missy, has Cystic Fibrosis. CF is a hereditary condition in which a defective gene wreaks havoc on the respiratory function causing a buildup of thick mucus. Did you know that respiratory issues aren’t the only thing Missy deals with on a daily basis? Fatigue, weakness, muscle cramps, stomach pain, dehydration, fevers, and dizzy/fainting spells are also on the list of symptoms for those with CF.
One of the things we always joke about with Missy is her being “salty”. I never realized until a couple years ago that part of her condition is also an inability to absorb sodium into cells like most of us can. This can lead to all the above issues and also causes the sodium to be pushed to the surface of her skin causing a “salty” texture. (This may be why her dogs love kissing her so much!) ;)
While Missy needs to constantly be replenishing sodium stores through consumption, most of us consume far too much sodium in our diets. The average American is consuming about 3,400 mg of sodium per day (over 2 tsp of salt!). This excessive consumption for us leads to high blood pressure, strokes, obesity, and even heart attacks! Although we absolutely need sodium, the average person can survive on only 500 mg daily and experts recommend that we consume no more than 2,300 mg daily or less for those at high risk of disease.
Our sodium levels have jumped a staggering rate due to the increase in processed food. Sodium is a preservative and is found in almost everything that comes in a package including soda!!! Excessive sodium elevates your blood pressure by making your heart work harder and also inhibiting proper kidney function. Reducing your sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg daily alone can decrease blood pressure by 8 points. Add in a minimally processed diet and exercise, and you can drop by 47 points!
Reduce your sodium intake by:
- Limiting processed/packaged food
- Take 1 week and keep track of exactly how much sodium you are consuming. Write down exactly where the excessive sodium is coming from and create a game plan to start reducing or replacing those options.
- Sweating! The average American loses 58 mg of sodium in the form of sweat daily while active individuals can lose 800 mg or more.
Did you know:
- Salt doesn’t equal sodium? Rather, salt is compromised of 40% sodium and 60% chloride which means 1 tsp of salt (5000mg) is about 2,300 mg of sodium.
- The Denny’s Meat Lovers Scramble has 5,690 mg of sodium (379% the recommended daily limit)
- From 1983 to 1998 salt intake increased 55%
- As salt intake has increased, other mineral consumption has decreased causing a complete imbalance in our diets, increasing cravings, and disease!
- You need to add an additional 1 liter of water to maintain normal concentrations if your sodium intake is 3,266 mg per day