Do not add any form of salt to cooking or at the table. This includes rock salt and sea salt which are very similar to table salt. You may find fairly quickly that your sense of taste adjusts so that you no longer like the taste of salt.
Try to use fresh, unprocessed food e.g. vegetables, fruit, fish, chicken and meat, which all contain only very small amounts of salt.
Levels of salt and food labeling
Most processed foods are now labeled with the amount of salt that is in the food. Unfortunately, these labels are difficult to understand. Your total daily consumption should be no more than 2gm of sodium per day, which means 5gm of salt. The easiest way to avoid salt is to stick to a couple of rules:
Avoid all foods that have more than 0.2gm of sodium per 100gm. Examples include:
- Cornflakes = 1.1
- Bread = 0.5 – 1.2
- Cheese = 0.6 – 1.4
Ideally only eat foods containing less than 0.1gm of sodium per 100gm. There is a HUGE difference between the levels of sodium in fresh and processed foods. Examples include:
- Fresh Fruit = 0.0 – 0.01
- Vegetables = 0.0 – 0.02
- Fresh Meat = 0.05
- Fresh Fish = 0.5
Foods with low salt content include:
- Fresh fruit and vegetables, pulses and lentils
- Pasta, rice and potatoes
- Some cereals (without salt and fat). Porridge is low in salt; do not add any when making it.
- Unsalted nuts
- Olive oil for cooking
- Herbs, spices, chili, garlic, ginger, lemon juice – to enhance the natural flavor of food
- Meat, especially chicken (with skin removed)
- Fresh fish (not battered or smoked)
Foods with high salt content include:
- Processed meat products usually contain very large amounts of salt e.g. ham, bacon, sausages, hamburgers, meat paste/pate, canned meat. The sodium content varies between 0.8 – 2.0gm per 100gm.
- Smoked or canned fish
- Meat and yeast extracts, stock cubes
- Snacks – potato chips, salted or roasted peanuts
- Salted or flavored (e.g. cheese) biscuits or crackers
- Canned vegetables, baked beans
- All bottled sauces, ketchup, chutney, salad cream
- Bread contains about 0.5 – 1.1gm of sodium per 100gm. Some supermarkets sell bread with less salt.
- Most breakfast cereals are very high in salt, e.g. cornflakes which contain 1.1gm of sodium per 100gm. Some, however, contain very little – as always, read the labels.
- Cheese, particularly hard and blue cheeses
Salt Intake Reduction can help with the following
People with CHF should follow a low-salt diet. Salt causes retention of water which may result in edema. Talk to your doctor about salt substitutes because they contain potassium and may not be a good idea for you to take. This will depend on your kidney function and what drugs you are taking. Some people need extra potassium but others don’t.
If you have high blood pressure, reducing the level of salt in your diet may reduce your blood pressure. In some people with mild high blood pressure this could free them from blood-pressure-lowering medications entirely. In people with marked high blood pressure, it should mean that a reduction in medications is possible. If you are taking medication for high blood pressure, particularly diuretics, let your doctor know that you are reducing your salt intake.
Salt restriction is recommended for those individuals with hypertension who are “salt-sensitive” or are prone to retaining sodium, gaining weight, and developing a rise in blood pressure as a result of a high-salt diet. Those who are “salt-resistant”, on the other hand, do not experience change in weight or blood pressure on either high- or low-salt diets. For the salt-sensitive population, extreme amounts of salt restriction are not needed for improvement of blood pressure. Several studies have shown that diets containing 1600 to 2300mg of sodium per day are associated with average reductions in systolic pressure of -9 to -15mm Hg and in diastolic pressure of -7 to -16mm Hg in salt-sensitive individuals. Thus, salt restriction in this range is recommended in the dietary management of most individuals with hypertension.
However, for those who like salt, it was found in a review of many studies, that the degree of reduction in sodium intake and change in blood pressure were NOT related. This review included a total of 2,326 normotensive people, 387 with untreated hypertension and 801 being treated for hypertension [BMJ 2002;325(7365): pp.628-632]. So you may not have to limit salt strictly, but you will need to experiment to find out if, and to what degree, you are sensitive.
Generalized edema implies that salt (sodium chloride) intake has been greater than excretion for some time in the recent past, so that the extracellular fluid (ECF) volume is now greater than normal. To develop clinical edema, one needs to retain in excess of three liters of ECF. In normal people, a very high salt intake does not result in edema. The problem often arises with normal salt intake when renal salt excretion is reduced, producing salt retention by the kidneys. Salt intake should be reduced to help remove this ECF. Diuretics are used to increase salt elimination by the kidneys.
Sodium (salt) tends to leach calcium out of the bones.
Advanced scarring of the liver [cirrhosis] may lead to an abnormal accumulation of fluid in the abdomen referred to as ascites. Patients with hepatitis C who have ascites must be on sodium [salt] restricted diets. Every gram of sodium consumed results in the accumulation of 200 ml of fluid. The lower the salt content in the diet, the better this excessive fluid accumulation is controlled. While often difficult, sodium intake should be restricted to 1000mg each day, and preferably to 500mg per day.
Studies suggest that high salt intake may have an adverse effect on asthma, particularly in men. In a small, preliminary trial, doubling salt intake for one month led to a small increase in airway reactivity (indicating a worsening of asthma) in men with asthma, as well as in non-asthmatics. [BMJ 1988;297:454] At least four double-blind trials have provided limited evidence of clinical improvement following a period of sodium restriction. It is difficult to compare the results of these studies because they used different amounts of sodium restriction. However, they consistently suggest that increased dietary sodium may aggravate asthma symptoms, especially in men. [Clin Exp Allergy 2000;30: pp.615-27]
A study demonstrated that a low-salt diet improves exercise-induced asthma (EIA) The study has shown for the first time that two weeks of altering dietary intake of salt can improve lung function in people with EIA. [Med Sci Sports Exerc 2000;32: pp.1815-9]
Twenty-four patients with asthma and exercised-induced asthma were divided into two groups: Some followed a low-salt diet of some 1,500 mg. of salt, while others were put on a high-salt diet of nearly 10,000 mg. (the usual amount many Americans consume daily). After two weeks, results showed:
High-salt dieters demonstrated a dramatic decline in lung function after exercise; the standard measure for lung functioning ( forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1)) taken 20 minutes after high-salt dieters exercised dropped by 27.4%, compared with a 7.9% decline experienced by the low-salt group.
Those on the high-salt diet were also found to have more airway cells (another indicator of asthma) and pro-inflammatory mediators that spur airway constriction. [Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise June 2005, Volume 37, Issue 6: 904-914 ]
Reducing salt intake can help in cases of PMS-H.
|May do some good|
|Likely to help|
(gm): A metric unit of weight, there being approximately 28 grams in one ounce.
An essential mineral that our bodies regulate and conserve. Excess sodium retention increases the fluid volume (edema) and low sodium leads to less fluid and relative dehydration. The adult body averages a total content of over 100 grams of sodium, of which a surprising one-third is in bone. A small amount of sodium does get into cell interiors, but this represents only about ten percent of the body content. The remaining 57 percent or so of the body sodium content is in the fluid immediately surrounding the cells, where it is the major cation (positive ion). The role of sodium in the extracellular fluid is maintaining osmotic equilibrium (the proper difference in ions dissolved in the fluids inside and outside the cell) and extracellular fluid volume. Sodium is also involved in nerve impulse transmission, muscle tone and nutrient transport. All of these functions are interrelated with potassium.
Herbs may be used as dried extracts (capsules, powders, teas), glycerites (glycerine extracts), or tinctures (alcohol extracts). Unless otherwise indicated, teas should be made with one teaspoon herb per cup of hot water. Steep covered 5 to 10 minutes for leaf or flowers, and 10 to 20 minutes for roots. Tinctures may be used singly or in combination as noted. The high doses of single herbs suggested may be best taken as dried extracts (in capsules), although tinctures (60 drops four times per day) and teas (4 to 6 cups per day) may also be used.
A single-cell organism that may cause infection in the mouth, vagina, gastrointestinal tract, and any or all bodily parts. Common yeast infections include candidiasis and thrush.