Ever felt like you’ve just consumed way too much salt? You know… that shriveled lips feeling, excessive thirst, bloating, swollen fingers and feet?
I went on a salty food binge last week, and man did I feel it (and look it!) afterwards!
Our bodies need salt to function properly. Sodium plays a key role in maintaing blood pressure and proper nerve and muscle function. It is, however, very easy to get too much!
What happens to your body when you’ve consumed too much salt?
Sodium attracts and retains water in the blood stream, directly affecting the liquidity of blood. When you’ve taken in too much sodium, more water is held in the blood causing added pressure in the veins, which over time can lead to high blood pressure, hypertension, and increased risk of vascular damage/varicose veins, etc. High levels of sodium can also lead to kidney damage.
How much salt should you consume?
The American Heart Association recommends that Americans eat less than 1,500mg of sodium a day. That amounts to 3.75 grams or 0.75 teaspoons of salt a day. Most Americans are eating much more than that. The average person consumes about 3,400mg of sodium day, most of which comes from packaged, processed foods and restaurant prepared meals, wrecking havoc on your body and your health. Check the nutrition labels on items you pick up at the grocery store – sodium content is listed, so always keep these numbers in mind.
What to do when you’ve had too much salt
If you find yourself over-indulging and overdosing on salt, there are some things you can do to correct the course and bring your comfort level back:
1. Drink lots of water
This may seem counter-intuitive because your body is already retaining fluid, but by drinking lots of water, you will help your body to dilute and flush out the excess sodium, bringing the levels back to normal. Bottoms up!
Sodium is released through perspiration during exercise, so get your sweat on! Replenish your body during and after your workout with plain water.
3. Take a detox bath
You can view my recipe for a detox bath here. It consists of epsom salt and baking soda (essential oils is optional). Unlike regular table salt, epsom salt is made up of pure magnesium sulfate, which helps to flush heavy metals from our cells. By adding these minerals to your bath water and soaking, your skin absorbs them and triggers the process of reverse osmosis – pulling the unwanted salts from your body and excreting them through sweat.
4. Eat foods high in potassium
Potassium helps to balance sodium levels in the body. Eat potassium-rich foods such as sweet potatoes, bananas, avocados, spinach, pinto beans, tomato paste, beet greens, winter squash, milk, and yogurt to bring your body back to balance.
5. Have foods and beverages that work as natural diuretics
A natural diuretic encourages the production of urine, causing you to pee more frequently – ridding your body of excess water and sodium. Natural diuretics include green tea, coffee, cranberries (and cranberry juice), lemon, watermelon, onions, asparagus, cabbage, beets, celery, parsley, and garlic.
6. Cut back
The American Heart Association reported an estimate suggesting that “if the U.S. population moved to an average intake of 1,500 mg/day sodium from its current level, it could result in a 25.6% overall decrease in blood pressure and an estimated $26.2 billion in health care savings.” Adopt a low-sodium diet as a part of a healthy lifestyle. Use fresh ingredients over processed ingredients when possible, snack wisely, read the nutrition facts and serving sizes of the foods you buy at the grocery store, and avoid adding on the table salt when you really don’t need it.