I enjoy salt. Love it, actually. And one night my Jim asked if I thought salt altered my Endometriosis at all. We’ve all heard too much salt is a bad thing for blood pressure, watch your sodium-intake, blah blah blah…but I didn’t care – I love my salt. Well, his question stuck with me over the months and it’s finally time to look into it.
I’d always thought salt and sodium were the same thing…nope. Table salt is a blend of ingredients, including sodium. Sodium is a natural mineral. Sodium helps our bodies balance electrolytes and fluids and is mainly stored in our kidneys. We pee out any excess sodium our body doesn’t use.
How does high sodium effect us? If your kidneys can’t process the sodium well or fast enough, it gets to your blood. Sodium retains water, which makes your blood vessels swell, which means your heart has to beat more to pump it around, which leads to high blood pressure…which can lead to a whole slew of problems.
Endometriosis and inflammation are bosom buddies. Recent studies are finding that high salt intake may very well effect the immune system and promote inflammation, as well. It can also cause a lot of discomfort and pressure around your joints, due to the swollen veins. People with Rheumatoid Arthritis may feel these effects even more, as some medications may cause the body to retain more sodium.
But, as usual, science goes back and forth. There are studies that say it increases inflammation, and studies that say it has no effect on inflammation.
How much sodium is too much sodium? The FDA recommends no more than 2,300mg of sodium per day for adults under 50 years old…or 1,500mg of sodium per day for adults over 50, or people suffering with high blood pressure, diabetes, or kidney disease. One teaspoon of table salt contains slightly over 2,300mg of sodium. One teaspoon of sea salt contains about the same amount. So, one teaspoon of salt is the daily allotment for most people. One. Teaspoon. Some people salt their food while cooking, others salt for seasoning once it’s hit the plate, and others (um…me) do both. Whoops.
Salt is often used as a preservative, which means most processed foods may contain a lot of sodium. Mmmmmmm bacon. Sodium is also found naturally in food and may be higher in seafood, dairy, vegetables, and meat. Read the labels. Do your homework. Make a grumpy face. For a chart on examples of different sodium levels (in mgs) in different foods, click here.
An example (let’s pretend this is my food & drink for one day…which it isn’t):
THIS is what I ate yesterday…
PaleoLeap wrote an interesting piece dissecting studies of sodium intake and they opine that high salt intake doesn’t lead to inflammation – but the intake of junk foods (which are often sodium-laden) do. The Paleo Diet also anaylzes a lot of recent studies of sodium intake and inflammation and suggest that it does increase inflammation.
Back and forth. Back…and…forth.
I’m gonna read my labels and try to make an effort to at least keep my sodium intake within the daily recommendations. I’ve done it with sugar (well, a whole hell of a lot better than I used to…). I tracked my sugar intake for a week and got a good sense of what had how much – it will be fun with sodium, too!
But, what are you going to do?
American Heart Association – New Sodium Targets Could Help Put Food Choices Back in Your Hands
American Heart Association – Sea Salt vs. Table Salt
Arthritis Foundation – How to Eat Less Salt
European Journal of Clinical Nutrition – (Abstract; 2012) Dietary Salt Intake is Related to Inflammation and Albuminuria in Primary Hypertensive Patients
JagWire – Scientists Explore Whether a Little Less Sodium in the Diet Translates to Less Inflammation, Oxidative Stress in the Body
Journal of Nephrology – (Abstract; 2010) Impact of Adopting Low Sodium Diet on Biomarkers of Inflammation and Coagulation: A Randomized Controlled Trial
Livestrong – Salt, Sodium, & Inflammation
Paleo Leap – Is Salt Really Inflammatory?
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition – (Abstract; 2009) Is Higher Sodium Intake Associated with Elevated Systematic Inflammation? A Populatrion-Based Study.
The Paleo Diet – New Studies on Salt: Adverse Influence Upon Immunity, Inflammatoin, and Autoimmunity
US Food & Drug Administration – Lowering Salt in Your Diet
~ Again, I am a layman. I do not hold any college degrees, nor mastery of knowledge. Please take what I say with a grain of salt. If curious, do your own research 🙂 Validate my writings. Or challenge them. And ALWAYS feel free to consult with your physician. Always. Yours ~ Lisa