Sodium is an essential nutrient for muscle function and fluid balance. The salt we eat helps relax and contract muscles and lends a hand to nerve impulses. Salt is a seasoning that can flavor food and act as a preservative. Salt contains about sixty percent chloride and forty percent sodium. Nearly all unprocessed foods, like vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, are low in sodium. However, foods don’t have to taste salty to be high in sodium. Pizza, bagels, and canned soup can be sneaky sources of salt. Too much salt can lead to negative consequences like heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure. Here are some signs that you’re overeating salt.
You Always Feel Bloated
Bloating is when your stomach feels swollen and tight. Since sodium plays a big part in fluid balance, too much of it can cause your body to hold water. Extra fluid builds up, which can cause you to feel bloated. A recent study from Johns Hopkins University revealed that a high sodium diet increased bloating by twenty-seven percent compared to a low sodium diet. Also, high-sodium diets typically include more processed foods and less fiber-rich food. This study also found that reducing your sodium intake and increasing the amount of fiber in your diet could decrease your bloating.
You Feel Constipated
When you feel bloated, constipation usually isn’t too far behind. Overeating salt can be the reason for your constipation. When you overeat salt, the water content in your intestines and stool move to other parts of the body to attain fluid balance. Foods that are high in fat and sugar can also contribute to constipation. You may also feel nauseated or have diarrhea. If your stomach is giving you problems, take a look at what you’ve been eating recently. Reducing your intake of highly processed foods can make a big difference. Filling up on hydrating high-fiber food like watermelon and apples can help restore the body’s water imbalance.
You Get Headaches Often
Fluid imbalance can mess up your quality of life. Dehydration is a big sign of headaches, and even if you think you don’t drink enough water, your sodium intake could be throwing off your fluid balance. Another Johns Hopkins study found that reducing your sodium intake could significantly reduce the frequency of your headaches. By adding more whole foods into your diet, you should be able to keep your headaches at bay. You could also try adding at least five fruits and vegetables to your diet daily.
You Always Feel Thirsty
If you’ve been really thirsty, it could be a sign of overeating salt. It’s one thing if you feel like you can’t quench your thirst after a long day in the sun, but it could be a problem if this sensation continues. When you overeat salt, your body pulls water from your cells, which causes you to feel thirsty. Hypernatremia happens when there is excess sodium in the blood. It’s caused by not drinking enough water regularly, which can make you feel dehydrated. Symptoms include confusion, muscle cramps, and seizures. Drinking water can help neutralize the sodium in your system and freshen up your cells.
You Have High Blood Pressure
It’s common knowledge that excessive sodium intake is linked to high blood pressure levels. The change in blood pressure happens through the kidneys. Too much salt makes it harder for your kidneys to get rid of fluid that you don’t need. As a result, your blood pressure goes up. Sodium acts like a magnet in our bodies and can pull excess fluid into our bloodstream if there’s a discrepancy. Too much salt in your bloodstream can damage our blood vessel linings over time, creating blood clots and putting us at risk for stroke or a heart attack. Foods high in sodium are also high in saturated fat, which can increase your blood pressure. Adding more fiber to your diet can help with your sodium intake.
You Have to Urinate Frequently
Frequent urination is a telltale sign that you’re overeating salt. Most of the time, you’ll feel the urge to urinate in the middle of the night. Frequent urination could also happen because salt makes you thirsty, which encourages you to drink more water, which makes you urinate often. Although it’s usually a sign of overeating salt, frequent urination could also signify diabetes or a UTI.
Long Term Effects of Overeating Salt
There are a lot of adverse long-term effects of overeating salt. Too much sodium in your bloodstream could raise your chances of enlarged heart muscles, kidney stones, headaches, kidney disease, heart failure, high blood pressure, and stomach cancer. There are numerous ways that you can cut salt out of your diet. They include choosing fresh meats over packaged meats, buying fresh frozen vegetables instead of veggies with added sauces and flavoring, and reading your food labels to check the sodium content. When choosing spices, buy ones that don’t contain sodium or have a low sodium option.
If you feel like you’re intaking too much sodium, you can try flushing the salt out of your body. The best way to do that is to drink lots of water. Adding detoxifying agents to your water, like ginger or lemon slices, can be effective in making your water more flavorful and easier to drink. You can also try eating foods with a lot of potassium, like bananas, strawberries, and leafy greens. Melons and citrus fruit can also help you flush out your body. Becoming more active is another way to flush the sodium from your system. Just remember to stay hydrated and keep your water bottle full.Sodium is an essential nutrient that our bodies need. However, sodium can mess up your fluid intake and have adverse effects on your body. Overeating salt can also cause you to look puffy and can cause weight gain. If you suffer from any of these symptoms, be sure to consult your doctor with any worries. Your doctor can lead you in the right direction and give you other ways to reduce your salt intake.