Sodium is an essential element that is required for good health. However, taking excess of sodium or salt, can affect several body systems. That is the reason why it is healthier to follow a low sodium diet. However, even a too low sodium diet can be dangerous.
Low Sodium Diet
Sodium is surely required for our body and it must be included in our regular diet. However, taking too much of sodium, can also affect your body systems in several ways. There are some real benefits of taking a low sodium diet or reducing the sodium content in your diet. It is essentially good for the heart, kidneys, blood pressure, etc. As per the 2010, Dietary Guidelines for Americans, healthy adults should limit their sodium to no more that 2, 300 milligrams per day.
It is recommended that in order to stay with a lower sodium diet, you need to eat more of fruits and vegetables and also make use of other herbs and spices in place of salt for flavouring. In order to replace extremely high-sodium foods in your diet, you can try to buy and prepare foods having low sodium ingredients or that are labeled as, “no added salt”. You must watch the package lable for knowing the sodium content present in the processed foods. As per The National Kidney Foundation, it is advised to avoid salt substitutes as they can be rich in potassium and Potassium can affect your heart. Always consult with your physician or your doctor before beginning a low sodium diet.
Health Benefits Of Low Sodium Diet:
Low Sodium Diet Benefits In Lowering Blood Pressure
It is known that taking low sodium diet can lower your blood pressure.
As per an experiment directed by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute; in a program called DASH or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension program, the volunteers were divided in to 3 groups, where one group consumed 3,300 mg of sodium salt in a day, another limited their intake to just 2, 400 mg/day(which is the recommended value) and the third group consumed a low sodium diet that was only 1500 mg/day. It was found that the group of people that consumed a low sodium diet or the third group had a lower blood pressure.
In one more report of 2003, scientist showed that by reducing the intake of sodium by 1000 mg/day one would be able to lower the systolic blood pressure by an average of 4 mm Hg and systolic blood pressure by 2.5 mm Hg in individuals suffering from Hypertension.
It must be noted that salt is not only the cause of high blood pressure. There are also other factors such as lack of exercise, poor diet and heredity also contribute in developing high blood pressure in an individual. However, cutting short on the high sodium foods and consuming a low sodium diet can be one simple way to reduce your risk
Benefits of Low Sodium Diet In Reducing Cardiovascular Diseases
Cardiovascular disease can occur as a complication of hypertension. So, our ultimate goal must be to reduce any such complications. And, a low sodium diet helps in this. As per a study published in 2007 in the British Medical Journal, researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston contacted some volunteers who took part in the two studies of low sodium diets; one was done in the year 1985 and other in the year 1990. The research team found that reducing sodium, slashed cardiovascular disease by about 25% to 30%.
Salt, or the sodium chloride is linked to high blood pressure and high blood pressure, which afflicts nearly 1 in 3 Americans, is one of the leading causes of cardiovascular disease. So, having a low sodium diet on a regular basis can be of benefit in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease to some fair extent.
Certain Medications Work More Efficiently With A Low Sodium Diet
It is also believed that specific medications like antihypertensives (used to treat high blood pressure), work more efficiently with a low sodium diet. Other medications, like diuretics or water pills, like Bumex and Lasix, are taken to treat heart failure, can be affected by sodium intake. So it is good to have a low sodium diet in such case. It is always advisable to talk to your doctor regarding your diet, about any type of fluid restriction and what your daily sodium intake should be, in case you are taking diuretics,
Other Health Benefits Of Low Sodium Diet
There are many other health benefits of the low sodium diet. Some of them are included below.
- Low Sodium Diet is beneficial in reducing or preventing swelling of the extremities, such as the legs.
- Low Sodium Diet is also beneficial in reducing the risk of kidney stones.
- One can also reduce the risk of developing Osteoporosis by taking low sodium diet.
Dangers of Low Sodium Diet:
Sodium makes up an essential part of our diet. However, eating too much of salt or sodium can increase your risk of health problems. So, some prefer taking a low-sodium diet. Again, point to note that by taking too less of sodium in your diet, you may again increase the risk of developing some other diseases, especially a condition known as Hyponatremia.
Here are some of the dangers of low sodium diet:
Dangers of Low-Salt Diet For Your Heart
It is true that individuals with high blood pressure are most often said to consume a low sodium diet. However, a diet that is excessively low in sodium may actually increase the risk for cardiovascular disease. This was reviewed by some studies.
Low-Sodium Diet Can Cause Hyponatremia
Hyponatremia is one more side effect that can be caused by a low sodium diet. This can also prove really harmful and cause several other side effects and serious symptoms. Dangers and Symptoms of Hyponatremia.
- Early Symptoms: Development of digestive upset, such as vomiting, nausea, etc. Along with a headache or feeling abnormally fatigued may be some of the early symptoms of Hyponatremia or sodium/salt deficiency. These symptoms can quickly develop in to more serious side effects.
- Side Effects On Nervous System: Sodium is required for proper functioning of the nervous system. So, hyponatremia can affect the functioning of your nerve functioning. Sodium actually aids in transmitting action potentials, small electrochemical signals that allow our cells to communicate with each other. So, without enough of sodium, the nerve cells fail to communicate directly, which may lead to several neurological symptoms. According to The Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University; Patients with sodium deficiency may experience seizures, disorientation or even go in to coma or suffer a brain damage.
- Abnormal Functioning Of Muscles: There may be another possible danger or side effect of too little salt or sodium in your body. This is a loss of proper control over muscle movement. This may in turn cause muscle cramps, muscle spasms or muscle weakness.
- Cerebral Edema: Cerebral Edema is one more serious possible danger of too low sodium levels in the body. This may cause swelling of your brain within your skull and the swelling may increase intracranial pressure, which may place excess of strain on your brain tissues. The swelling may also cause ruptured blood vessels which may cause bleeding in the brain that may again increase the intracranial pressure. Considering the overall effect of Cerebral edema, it may prove really fatal and can cause long-lasting brain damage. You need to seek immediate medical attention in case you are suspecting that you might be suffering from a low salt or sodium deficiency.
It must be noted that as there are benefits as well as dangers of low sodium diet, the sodium intake must be proper in your diet. Some individuals may face a real increased risk of low salt levels in their body and they should remain vigilant so as to avoid hyponatremia. According to the Linus Pauling Institute, even endurance athletic training can affect salt and water elimination from the body via sweat and anyone training or performing marathons may develop a salt deficiency. So, in such cases, visit a physician and know more about the ways to prevent hyponatremia because of your training.