I have a horrible reaction to sodium. I have, since I was about twenty, ballooned when consuming too much for the day or just too much at one time. I don’t know if this is some medical issue or just my body’s quirky way of telling me I don’t need the salt, but since I can control this reaction by simply avoiding unnecessary sodium, I don’t mind not paying $650 to have someone tell me it’s a medical condition which can be controlled by not consuming salt.
So, annoyed at not being able to wear my wedding rings, having sock indents around my calves, and feeling at times as though my skin wanted to split apart, I cut waaaaay back on salt about eight or nine months ago.
According to this article, the recommended limit is 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day, with the ideal limit being 1,500 for most adults. It then goes on to say the body needs less than 500 mg, or less than 1/4 teaspoon, per day to function properly. Limits are not goals. If my body only needs 500 mg to function properly, I’m going to attempt to hit that goal, and it is a goal of sorts, you want to function properly, and not surpass it to an extreme if possible.
The nutrition book I’ve been studying, Nutrition: Concepts and Controversies, says “A deficiency of sodium would be harmful, but no known human diet lacks sodium. Most foods include more salt than is needed and the body absorbs it freely.”
I do not add salt to anything. However, because I still consume some processed food (fish sauce, coffee creamer, bread, etc.), I often get far more than my target level. Here is a snap from my Cronometer record of yesterday. When you hover over something in the read-out, it will bring up a small window to show where percentages of X came from. In this example, X is my sodium.
Even actively avoiding sodium-rich foods, I am well over what I’d prefer to be consuming, though far under what the average American consumes, according to Sodium and the Dietary Guidelines, a PDF offered by the CDC. Obviously, this list helps to identify what could be reduced or eliminated to bring my sodium level down even farther, but even more than the read-out, reducing my salt intake has made the abundance of sodium in everything so much more apparent by taste alone.
Things that would have been normal before are shockingly salty at times. For example, tuna salad from the deli is almost always a salt bomb, even some oatmeal cups are laden with it, and I have two boxes of my former favorite canned/box soup sitting in the pantry, where they’ll eventually expire, because the two servings of one box (17 ounces) total 1240 mg of sodium. That’s almost the ideal maximum for a whole day in one sitting. It seems as though everyone has gone salt-blind and it’s ever increasing in products to compensate.
I would challenge you to, if not reduce your sodium intake, keep a log of it for a week or two. I’ll bet you two boxes of Poblano Pepper Corn Chowder that you’ll be surprised how much you consume in an average day.
Things in my sodium read-out, if you’re wondering: Thai Ramen is a custom recipe that includes water, lemongrass, fish sauce, minced garlic, minced ginger, rice vinegar, sucanat, white button mushrooms, lobster mushrooms, bok choy, daikon, celery, scallions, tofu, and bird’s eye chilies, served with kelp noodles and shrimp (listed later), organic valley skim milk, shrimp, food for life cinnamon raisin bread, cascadian farm granola – ancient grains, nestle coffee-mate natural bliss – sweet cream, sea tangle kelp noodles, steaz iced green tea – grapefruit honey, bananas, peanut butter (local, freshly ground, ingredient list: peanuts)
Note: My comments are based on my observations alone. I’m not a registered dietitian or a doctor. You probably shouldn’t blindly follow any bandwagons, even mine. I hear they make a lot of sudden stops. Your diet is best known to you and whoever you consult with over your health goings-on, and before doing anything that may affect your health, you should discuss it with them. Don’t say I didn’t warn you because I’m right here doing it where everyone can see.