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Martha Jefferson HealthWise--November 26h

WITH THE HOLIDAYS QUICKLY APPROACHING, MANY OF US ARE ALREADY WONDERING HOW TO STAY HEALTHY WHILE STILL ENJOYING THE OCCASIONAL TREATS THAT COME WITH THE SEASON. ONE WAY TO HELP KEEP YOUR HEART AND KIDNEYS IN TOP SHAPE IN THE COMING WEEKS? WATCH YOUR SALT INTAKE. JOINING US TODAY FOR MARTHA JEFFERSON HEALTHWISE IS CLINICAL NUTRITION SUPERVISOR DAVID STEBBINS, RD TALK ABOUT KEEPING YOUR SODIUM UNDER CONTROL FOR OVERALL HEALTH.

IF SALT CAN CAUSE HEALTH ISSUES WITH THE HEART AND KIDNEYS, SHOULD WE TAKE THE SALT SHAKER OFF THE TABLE COMPLETLEY?

NOT AT ALL. IN FACT, OUR BODIES NEED SOME SODIUM TO FUNCTION PROPERLY. SODIUM HELPS MAINTAIN THE RIGHT BALANCE OF FLUIDS IN THE BODY, HELPS TRANSMIT NERVE IMPULSES, AND INFLUENCES THE CONTRACTION AND RELAXATION OF OUR MUSCLES. YOUR KIDNEYS REGULATE THE AMOUNT OF SODIUM KEPT IN YOUR BODY. WHEN SODIUM LEVELS ARE LOW, YOUR KIDNEYS CONSERVE SODIUM. WHEN LEVELS ARE HIGH, THEY EXCRETE THE EXCESS AMOUNT IN URINE. THE TROUBLE BEGINS WHEN THE AMOUNT OF SODIUM IN THE BODY IS TOO HIGH FOR THE KIDNEYS TO MANAGE.

HOW MUCH SALT IS TOO MUCH?

APPROXIMATELY 1,500 TO 2,400 MILLIGRAMS OF SALT IS THE RECOMMENDED RANGE FOR HEALTHY ADULTS EACH DAY. UNFORTUNATELY MANY ADULTS AREN'T AWARE OF THE AMOUNT OF SALT IN THEIR FOOD, EVEN BEFORE THEY ADD ADDITIONAL SALT FROM THE TABLE. FOR EXAMPLE, ONE TEASPOON OF TABLE SALT HAS 2,325 MG OF SODIUM - ALMOST THE ENTIRE RECOMMENDED AMOUNT OF SALT FOR THE DAY. FAST FOOD, LUNCH MEATS AND FROZEN FOODS ARE ALSO TYPICALLY VERY HIGH IN SALT. SINCE SODIUM NATURALLY OCCURS IN SOME FOODS, SUCH AS MEAT, POULTRY, DAIRY PRODUCTS AND VEGETABLES, ADULTS SHOULD BASE THEIR SALT INTAKE FOR THE DAY ON EVERYTHING THEY EAT, NOT JUST THE AMOUNT OF EXTRA SALT ADDED.

WHAT ARE SOME HEALTH RISKS OF EATING TOO MUCH SALT?

IF YOUR KIDNEYS CAN'T ELIMINATE ENOUGH SODIUM, THE SODIUM STARTS TO ACCUMULATE IN YOUR BLOOD. BECAUSE SODIUM ATTRACTS AND HOLDS WATER, YOUR BLOOD VOLUME INCREASES. INCREASED BLOOD VOLUME, IN TURN, MAKES YOUR HEART WORK HARDER TO MOVE MORE BLOOD THROUGH YOUR BLOOD VESSELS, INCREASING PRESSURE IN YOUR ARTERIES. CERTAIN DISEASES SUCH AS CONGESTIVE HEART FAILURE, CIRRHOSIS AND CHRONIC KIDNEY DISEASE CAN LEAD TO AN INABILITY TO REGULATE SODIUM.

WHAT ARE SOME WAYS TO CUT BACK ON SALT?

YOUR TASTE FOR SALT IS ACQUIRED, SO IT'S REVERSIBLE. TO UNLEARN THIS SALTY SAVORING, DECREASE YOUR USE OF SALT GRADUALLY AND YOUR TASTE BUDS WILL ADJUST. MOST PEOPLE FIND THAT AFTER A FEW WEEKS OF CUTTING SALT, THEY NO LONGER MISS IT. START BY USING NO MORE THAN 1/4 TEASPOON (1 MILLILITER) OF ADDED SALT DAILY, AND THEN GRADUALLY REDUCE TO NO SALT ADD-ONS. AS YOU USE LESS SALT, YOUR PREFERENCE FOR IT LESSENS, ALLOWING YOU TO ENJOY THE TASTE OF FOOD ITSELF. SOME WAYS TO CUT BACK ON SALT INCLUDE EATING MORE FRESH FOODS, OPTING FOR LOW-SODIUM PRODUCTS, AND TO USE HERBS AND SPICES TO ADD FLAVOR TO FOOD INSTEAD OF SALT.


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