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How to limit salt in my diet

How To Limit Salt In My Diet

Salt makes everything taste better. But salt is also essential in maintaining fluid balance and supporting nerve and muscle function in the human body. It helps to regulate the balance of fluids in our body and plays a role in maintaining healthy blood pressure. However, consuming too much salt can lead to several adverse health effects. 

What are the symptoms of salt overindulgence?

As mentioned above, consuming too much salt in your diet can affect your health negatively. People who overindulge in salt are more prone to lifestyle diseases and other conditions like the following:

  • High blood pressure: Consuming too much salt can cause an increase in blood pressure, leading to a higher risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • Headaches: Salt can cause headaches and migraines in some people.
  • Fatigue: Excess salt intake can cause dehydration, leading to feelings of fatigue and weakness.
  • Thirst: Consuming too much salt can make you thirsty and dehydrated.
  • Stomach problems: Consuming too much salt can cause discomfort and bloating.

Be aware of the amount of salt you’re consuming and make an effort to reduce your intake. 

How can I reduce my salt intake?

To reduce your salt intake, try using herbs and spices instead of salt to flavour your food, and be sure to read food labels to check the sodium content. By taking the following steps, you can help to protect your health and reduce your risk of developing the symptoms of consuming too much salt.

Gradually decrease your salt intake.

Trying to cut out salt entirely at once can take time and effort. Gradually decrease the amount of salt you use in cooking, and at the table, over time by reducing the amount in small doses.

The American Heart Association recommends a maximum of 2,300 milligrams (mg) daily, about a third of a teaspoon of salt. However, the ideal limit is no more than 1500 mg per day for most adults. For children, WHO recommends that the adult maximum salt intake be adjusted downward for children aged between two to 15, based on their energy requirements. This recommendation does not address the period of exclusive breastfeeding (usually from 0–6 months old) or the period of complementary feeding with continued breastfeeding (6–24 months). All salt consumed should be iodised or “fortified” with iodine. This is essential for healthy brain development in fetuses and young children. 

Read nutrition labels

When shopping for food, pay attention to the nutrition labels and choose products with lower sodium content. 

Besides salt intake, reading nutritional labels is essential for many reasons. 

  • It helps you make informed choices about the food you’re eating. Nutritional labels provide information about a food product’s ingredients, calories, and nutrient content, which can help you decide what to eat based on your dietary needs and goals.
  • It can help you manage chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and food allergies. Decide what to eat based on your dietary needs and goals.
  • It helps you maintain a healthy weight. Nutritional labels provide information about a food product’s calorie and fat content.

Most importantly, reading labels allows you to compare products and make more informed decisions at the grocery store, ultimately leading to better health and wellness.

Cook at home

When you prepare your meals, you control the amount of salt you add to your food. Eating out can be a significant contributor to high sodium intake. When eating out, ask the server to prepare your meal without added salt, and opt for steamed, grilled, or baked dishes rather than fried or sautéed.

Avoid processed foods 

Processed foods often contain a high amount of sodium. Avoid processed foods as much as possible, and opt for fresh fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins.

If you must have processed foods, try low-sodium options. Many companies now offer low-sodium versions of their products. Look for “low-sodium” or “reduced-sodium” options for your favourite foods.

Consult with a doctor or a dietitian.

If you have a medical condition like high blood pressure or heart disease or are unsure about how much salt you should consume, following these simple strategies helps you limit the amount of salt in your diet and improves your overall health. 

Speak to your doctor about reducing your salt intake. They can examine you to identify your exact nutritional and health requirements and advise on any further interventions tailored to your needs. Remember, even small changes can make a big difference in reducing your sodium intake.

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