These days there's so much salt in everything, that it becomes so easy to go overboard. With fast foods, canned goods, and so on, a sodium overdose is quite possible. What to do when you've eaten too much salt? Read on and find out.
I'm something of a salt fiend, I've loved salty things ever since I was a child. My mother tried to police that habit, but suffice to say, when I moved from home, I was able to choose my diet and I ended up going overboard a couple of times. The truth is, you can feel it in your body when you've had too much salt. Your body feels swollen, your heart feels like it's racing, and you might have trouble sleeping.
I've had my share of those symptoms but only recently put it together that those might be related to the plenty of salt I'd been having in my meals.
What does too much salt mean?
The healthy level of sodium in your meals is 2,300 mg per day. So picture this: 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of French fries has about 210 mg of sodium. Most fast food places will give you a larger, double serving, of 7 ounces (200 grams). That would be about 420 mg of sodium, which is quite a huge chunk of the recommended daily value. Especially since this is just a side dish or maybe a larger meal out of at least three meals a day.
A study from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) showed that 90 percent of Americans are having way too much salt for their own good, an average daily intake of 3,592 mg. And sodium is easily absorbed into your body: 95 percent of it, more exactly. And it has the potential for negative impact.
The negative impact of too much sodium
When on a high sodium diet for a long time, your kidneys have to work overtime to keep up with it. That's why your body retains water - because it's trying to dilute the sodium. And that's why you're feeling bloated after too much salt. This, in turn, leads to the buildup of fluid around the cells and the volume of your blood. That's why your heart also starts working overtime, which might lead to high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes.
What to do when you've had too much salt
Put the bag of chips down, add just a pinch of salt to your meals and maybe tone it down on fast food. But if you've fallen into a salt wagon, you can follow these instructions step by step to get you back out of the bloat.
1. Step one: have plenty of water
No wonder H20 is a miraculous liquid. It's your ally when it comes to helping your kidneys flush out the excess sodium. Have plenty of water and stay hydrated as much as possible. That's how you'll also feel less bloated.
2. Do your preferred exercise
Sweating is good for you, not so good for the excess sodium in your body. Because it will get expelled through sweat. So go on a quick run, jump on the treadmill, or whatever else you usually do to work up a sweat.
3. Have a banana
Bananas are rich in potassium, a mineral which helps counteract sodium. Other foods rich in potassium? Sweet potatoes, tomato sauce, leafy greens, beets, and white beans are healthy for you and help get the sodium out.
4. Rely on medicine
All of the above are temporary fixes, but you should really get in touch with your primary healthcare physician. If you think about your diet and find that you're having way more sodium than you should, go see your doctor, as soon as possible. There are extra risks for people over 51 years old, African Americans, and people who have a high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease.