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Thanks to what we once learned in science class, it’s common knowledge that salt absorbs water and causes water retention. That’s why when we eat foods high in sodium, we may feel bloated and gain weight as a result of the salt in our bodies retaining water. In the United States, the FDA recommends that Americans consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of salt per day. However, the average American consumes about 3,400 milligrams per day, which far exceeds the limits in place by the FDA to ensure good overall health.
When we consume salt, our kidneys have to work harder than usual to filter out toxins since the salt is causing our bodies to retain water and flush out less waste. Excess sodium consumption has been linked to high blood pressure, heart disease, and kidney failure. Additionally, high sodium intake is linked to obesity and weight gain as a result of the domino effect our bodies experience when retaining water.
If you pay close attention to the nutritional and ingredient labels on packaged foods, you’ll notice that many contain sodium. Even canned vegetables contain sodium, which is highly unnecessary. In fact, most Americans tend to season these types of foods with table salt after they have been prepared, which further adds to their overall sodium intake.
If you want to lose weight and become healthier, reducing your sodium intake is one of the smartest steps you can take. The sooner you can reduce your sodium intake, the sooner you’ll notice that your stomach will become flatter within about a week, or even just a few days.
Follow these tips to reduce your sodium intake, lose weight, and become healthier.
Pay attention to nutritional labels
When buying packaged and processed foods, take a look at the sodium content and avoid buying products such as canned vegetables that contain an unnecessary amount of sodium. Instead, purchase fresh vegetables or buy products that lack sodium — just make sure that foods labeled as “low sodium” or “zero sodium” aren’t replacing sodium with other preservatives and ingredients that could compromise your weight and health.
Keep track of your diet using a journal
Although it might sound like too much work at first, keeping a food journal will actually shed some light on the sources of your sodium intake. Keep track of all foods you’re eating for at least one week, and write down the amount of sodium you’re eating at every meal. You may be surprised to learn that your sodium intake is high due to certain foods you may deem as “healthy,” such as breakfast cereal and canned goods.
Replace table salt with herb and spice blends
Most all-purpose seasonings already contain a bit of salt in them, so if your sodium intake is coming from flavoring your food with table salt, toss out your table salt and use other herb and spice blends, such as lemon pepper, taco seasoning, garlic seasoning, etc. In most cases, these seasonings are far more flavorful than table salt, and contain far less sodium.