Is A Low-Sodium Diet Bad For You?
In the past few years there have been many studies conducted which show that low-salt diets may be harmful to your health. Some of these studies were done on animals, but others were done on humans. The results of all these studies indicate that people with kidney disease or other problems could suffer from dangerous complications such as heart attacks and strokes if they follow a low-salt diet. There is also evidence that people following a low-salt diet may experience increased rates of cancer, diabetes, obesity and even dementia.
The research shows that eating too little salt causes the body to excrete excess water, leading to dehydration. When the kidneys cannot remove the extra fluid from your blood stream, it leads to swelling in various organs including the brain and kidneys. These symptoms include headaches, fatigue and nausea. If left untreated these symptoms can lead to death.
There are several reasons why low-salt diets might be harmful. One reason is because the body does not absorb salt well. Another problem is that when you eat less salt, your body loses potassium, which helps regulate blood pressure and keeps your nerves healthy. Potassium plays a role in muscle contraction and nerve impulses, so losing it can cause weakness or paralysis.
You can have serious heart rhythm problems if you don’t have enough potassium.
There are several dieticians who believe that a low-salt diet is beneficial because it lowers blood pressure. However, the above information shows that there are many complications of a low-salt diet. Instead of focusing on how much salt you should eat, the best thing to do is to focus on eating a healthy, balanced diet that includes lean meats, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Adding a cup of low-sodium chicken broth to your food will also help you to replace the extra potassium that you lose when you reduce your salt intake.
You should talk to your doctor or a dietitian before making any changes to your diet. This information is for reference only and not as a substitute for medical advice.
Is Sodium Really Bad For You?
Sodium is an essential mineral that your body needs in order to function properly. It is found in many of the foods that we eat such as milk and vegetables. Sodium also plays a role in determining the balance of water in your body. There are two factors that affect the amount of sodium in your blood, the amount that you intake and the amount that your kidneys excrete. When excessive amounts of salt are consumed, the kidneys excrete more water causing your blood to become hypertonic. This triggers a mechanism in the brain which makes you thirsty so that you will drink and this in turn dilutes the sodium concentration in your blood.
Salt and Sodium Consumption
However, not everyone reacts the same way to salt. In fact some people can consume large amounts of salt without any adverse effects. Doctors do not completely understand why this is but it has been suggested that excessive consumption of salt may lead to high blood pressure in some people. This can be a serious problem because it increases the risk of stroke and heart disease.
It is for this reason that many health conscious people are cutting down on their salt intake. Too little salt in your diet can also cause problems. The British Heart Foundation suggests an adequate amount of salt per day which is approximately one teaspoon less than 2 grams.
When it comes to food intake, it is a good rule of thumb that the more processed a food is, the more salt is in it. Fast foods are the worst offenders when it comes to salt consumption. It is suggested that if you have high blood pressure or are at risk of developing it, then you should avoid fast foods as much as possible.
There are many other factors that can contribute to high blood pressure. These include obesity, alcohol and tobacco use. Genetics can also play a role. Regardless of the cause, cutting down on salt is always a good idea if you want to keep your blood pressure at a safe level.
Too Much of a Good Thing
While it is recommended that we consume no more than 2 grams of salt per day, most of us are actually consuming much more than this. The current average per day for an adult is about 8 grams, almost five times the recommended amount. The best way to cut down on your salt intake is to begin reading food labels. If it doesn’t list how much salt is in the food then don’t buy it.
As well as reading food labels, try to prepare your own meals at home. This will allow you to control the amount of salt that goes into your meals and ensure that you aren’t overdoing it.
It’s also important to remember that while most of the sodium we consume comes from processed food, some of it can come from other sources such as table salt. Most cooking purists advise people to stop using table salt and begin using sea salt instead in order to reduce your overall salt intake.
You may have heard about a low sodium diet before but this may not actually be a good idea for everyone. In some cases a very low sodium diet can actually have reverse effects. A very low sodium diet (less than 1 gram per day) can lead to hyponatremia which causes water to build up in the brain.
It is also worth noting that while most of the sodium in our diets does come from processed foods and table salt, some of it can be obtained from naturally occurring sources such as vegetables.
If you’re trying to cut down on your sodium intake and cooking for yourself then why not try preparing one of these low sodium recipes?
There are many myths about food and health that have been passed down through generations. Some of these beliefs are actually correct while others are just old wives tales. One such myth is that bananas are poisonous if you eat them skin and all. This is false. While the skin of a banana does contain a small amount of oxalic acid, this isn’t enough to poison you. In fact including the skin in your diet is actually a good idea as it contains dietary fiber. It is also worth noting that the peel of a banana does not contain any more potassium than the rest of the fruit.
If you like bananas and want to eat the skin then go ahead, there’s no reason not to. Just don’t eat the skin of anything else, especially if you don’t know what it is or where it came from!
The Dangers of Not Getting Enough Protein
There are many reasons given as to why you should eat more protein. The most common one is that it builds muscles and keeps you full for longer. There is actually some truth to this claim but it isn’t the whole story. While it is true that you body does need protein to build and repair muscle tissue, it also needs other nutrients such as carbs and fats for this process to occur.
You can get all the protein you need from a varied diet that includes dairy, meat, and plant based proteins.
However, if you don’t eat enough protein your body can’t repair itself at an optimal level. In this case your body will start to break down muscles in order to obtain the protein it needs. This can cause problems if you’re trying to build muscle as well! For this reason, it is always a good idea to include some protein in every meal or snack.
If you’re worried about not eating enough protein you can use one of the many protein supplements on the market but it is best to try to get most of your protein from natural sources such as meat, fish, eggs, and dairy.
You should also be aware that there is such a thing as too much protein. While our bodies require a certain amount of protein each day, there is no evidence that suggests that eating more than this amount will lead to better muscle growth.
Protein is a complex topic. There are many myths about it that most of us have heard dozens of times. Hopefully, you now know the facts behind these myths and can educate your friends on them the next time they try to tell you that you need more protein.
The Dangers Of A Low Carbohydrate Diet
Have you ever tried a low carbohydrate diet? Do you know anyone who has?
Chances are you know somebody who has tried this diet or has at least considered it. For most people, low carbohydrate diets have their place. However, they should never be the only thing someone eats. There are many potential dangers of a low carbohydrate diet that people don’t realize until it’s too late.
One of the most notable side effects is the increase in cholesterol. Several studies have found that low carbohydrate diets lead to an increase in “bad” cholesterol. Eating a balanced diet, even if it has more carbs, is still a better way to improve your cholesterol profile.
You are also at risk for muscle loss on a low carbohydrate diet. Protein is vital for building and repairing muscles so if you don’t eat enough of it you’re going to lose muscle mass over time. This is especially problematic as you age and your body naturally starts to lose muscle mass.
Another potential danger is the increase in fat storage. This goes back to the fact that your body burns carbs for energy. If you don’t consume enough of them, your body will start burning fat instead. This process is known as ketosis and it puts your body in a state of emergency.
While your body does become more efficient at storing fat, it is only intended as a short term solution.
Yet another problem with low carbohydrate diets is the loss of energy and focus. This problem comes from a couple of different places. The first is that your brain needs carbs in order to function properly. It’s no coincidence that people get tired after eating a big plate of pasta.
Their brain is simply less energetic after consuming all that pasta.
The second reason has to do with the fact that you are burning fat for energy. This process is slow and tedious for your body and it requires less energy to do so. However, it is also a very delicate process since ketosis is easy to induce but hard to get out of. Any little thing can throw your body into full-blown ketosis and cause you to burn fat at a faster rate which leaves you with less energy.
So now that we’ve covered some of the dangers of a low carbohydrate diet, let’s look at some common myths about low carbohydrate diets.
One common myth is that low carbohydrate diets are good for you because they cause you to lose weight. While it’s true that you will lose weight on a low carbohydrate diet, this is actually a side effect of something else. Low carbohydrate diets actually make you burn fat which results in weight loss. However, there are other diets that are just as effective for weight loss without the health risks of a low carbohydrate diet.
Another common myth is that you can eat all the meat you want on a low carbohydrate diet. While it’s true that low carbohydrate diets do make you burn fat more effectively, this doesn’t give you free reign to eat an unlimited amount of meat. In fact, eating too much meat can lead to health problems of its own such as iron and vitamin deficiency. It is also exceedingly difficult to get all the nutrients your body needs from just meat.
Low carbohydrate diets may have some benefits but they aren’t for everyone. In most cases a well balanced diet will be more than enough to help you get in shape. However, if you’re dead set on going on a low carbohydrate diet then make sure to consult a doctor first.
Low Carbohydrate and Bodybuilding
Bodybuilders are a unique lot. They spend years perfecting their bodies and their diets are a big part of this process. Many of the foods bodybuilders eat are designed to help increase muscle, cut down fat or otherwise optimize their physical condition. There is however, a subcategory of bodybuilders who have taken things too far.
This is the subcategory that includes those that follow a low carbohydrate diet.
Unfortunately, many of these bodybuilders end up with weakened muscles, smaller muscles and even health problems due to eating disorders. The good news is that a small number of these people eventually seek help and eventually become rehabilitated. Here is a first hand account by a former low carbohydrate fanatic.
My Low Carbohydrate Days
I was really into bodybuilding when I was younger. I would spend hours in the gym every day and my diet was really strict. I would load up on as much protein and amino acids as I could and just barely touch carbohydrates. Of course I wouldn’t gain a pound.
Most bodybuilders are like that.
Eating a low carbohydrate diet didn’t really appeal to me at the time but I did it anyway since everyone else was doing it. After a few years of this I started noticing some undesirable side effects such as being really tired all the time and lacking energy. I couldn’t even finish a workout without needing to take a nap. I got checked out by a doctor and his prognosis was that I was just burning myself out.
He said I needed to take a break from the gym and from dieting.
I decided to cut my losses and quit bodybuilding altogether. I started going to a new gym in town which was less centered on competition and more on genuine health. It also had a nutrition center so I got myself acquainted with what I should really be eating. After my break from the gym I started noticing a huge difference in my body.
I had more energy and could actually feel my heart beating!
It was then that I decided to completely change my diet. I didn’t quite know how at first but after doing some reading and asking the people at the nutrition center I was on my way. The first thing I did was start eating carbohydrates again. I was amazed at how my body reacted to them after avoiding them for so long.
The second thing I did was quit all the supplements and multivitamins. My body didn’t need them anymore since I was feeding it the right things!
I now lead a healthy lifestyle and although I’m not quite as muscular as I used to be, my overall health is a lot better. I’m a lot more active too since the energy levels are so much higher. I spend a lot more time with my girlfriend and just enjoying life in general. Some people at my old gym still see me as a traitor but I couldn’t care less about what they think.
The moral of the story is that some people can’t take their bodybuilding hobby too far. It’s true that you should always push yourself to achieve more but sometimes you can take it too far and end up destroying your own body. Fortunately I finally saw the light and changed my ways before any permanent damage was done.
Thanks for reading,
Low fat diets are the other subcategory that includes those that follow a low fat diet.
These people tend to avoid fatty foods like the plague and eat very small amounts of fat on a daily basis. The reason for this is because some national health organizations have stated that fat is bad for you and you should limit how much you intake. This has lead many people to believe that a low fat diet is the healthiest option.
Unfortunately this couldn’t be further from the truth. There is absolutely nothing wrong with eating fat, in fact it’s essential to your overall health. Some fat is good for you! Without fat your body wouldn’t be able to absorb certain vitamins such as A,D,E and K.
Fat is also essential for healthy hormones since it helps create estrogen and testosterone. Low fat diets usually cause a significant drop in both of these which can lead to numerous health problems.
So how do you know if you’re a low fat dieter?
There are a few symptoms to check for:
Do you buy fat free or diet foods even though they taste worse than the real thing?
Are the bulk of your meals mostly carbohydrates or sugars?
Are your meals very well balanced or are you skipping some essential foods group?
Do you eat fast food twice a week or more?
If you answered yes to most of these then it’s likely that you have a low fat diet.
The first step is to completely eliminate all fat free and diet products from your diet. This includes foods labeled “Fat Free” or “Low Fat”, sugar free foods, and anything that contains the word ‘light’. The reason for this is because these foods usually contain something called “artificial sweeteners” which are extremely dangerous to your health. It may seem safe to eat something with less fat, but it’s not when you’re eating a food that was chemically manufactured in a lab.
The next step is to watch what you eat. You don’t have to stick to the food pyramid guidelines but try to get as close to them as possible. This means eating whole wheat breads and grains, fruits and vegetables, and drinking milk. It’s perfectly fine to eat some lean protein such as fish and chicken but don’t overdo it.
The final step is to start eating healthy fats. Go ahead and have a serving of peanut butter every now and then. Add some nuts to your cereal. Eat some olive oil with your vegetables.
Just ensure that you aren’t overdoing it since there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.
The moral of the story is that there is nothing wrong with eating fat as long as you’re eating the right kind of fat. And on that note, don’t overdo any foods no matter how healthy they are since all foods are bad in excess.
Thanks for reading,
There are two basic groups when it comes to alcohol consumption – those who drink in moderation and those who don’t. Of course there is also a large group of people who regularly go back and forth between the two extremes but for the purposes of this discussion we’ll focus on the two main groups.
The first group, those who drink in moderation, are probably familiar to most since their philosophy can be applied to many aspects of life. These are the people who believe that everything can be enjoyed in moderation including alcohol. Although they would be the first to admit that alcohol can be dangerous if used improperly, they don’t think that a life without alcohol is any more worthwhile than a life plagued by alcoholism.
The second group, the non-drinkers, are probably less common but their opinion on alcohol is often just as strong as the moderate drinkers. For these people there is nothing enjoyable or desirable about the taste of alcohol so there is really no reason to ever drink it. Any of the benefits gained from alcohol can be gained in other less dangerous ways.
The real problem with alcohol isn’t so much the alcohol itself but the medium hard-core drinkers use to mask it’s taste. If you really think about it, there is really no reason why you shouldn’t be able to drink alcohol without all of the side effects (hangovers, loss of control, etc) by drinking an alcohol substitute that has no negative side effects since there are no toxins present.
There are several non-toxic alcohol substitutes on the market currently both of the non-alcoholic kind and the kind that use a different chemical (that isn’t toxic in trace amounts) to trick your body into thinking it is alcohol. The most popular are:
Diluted Vodka – Most common method used by moderate drinkers, simply mix 1 part vodka with 10 parts water and voila! You have a completely non-toxic “drink”. The main drawback is the cost since vodka is the most expensive alcohol around.
Inexpensive Wines – Most of these wines come in collapsible plastic bags since you can only buy so much wine before attracting suspicion. These also have the advantage of coming in a variety of flavors although the quality is often lacking.
Beer – Although not quite as “clean” as the other substitutes, beer is probably the most common alternative to vodka. The great thing about beer is that you don’t need to throw it away if you decide you want to start drinking real alcohol since it has very little taste in comparison.
Non-Alcoholic Beer – Same idea as the substitute wines, comes in a collapsible bag and you can only buy so much at a time. Although it isn’t as common as the substitute wines, some people claim that it tastes better.
There are also several other home brew substitutes you can try although availability and quality tend to vary widely. Some of the other choices include:
Mix DrPepper and Wine – This is a fairly common choice since both ingredients are fairly easy to get and the taste is slightly less offensive than most of the other choices.
Sources & references used in this article:
Factors related to nonadherence to low sodium diet recommendations in heart failure patients by B Bentley, MJ De Jong, DK Moser… – European Journal of …, 2005 – journals.sagepub.com
A review of methods to measure dietary sodium intake by B Bentley – Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing, 2006 – journals.lww.com
Low-sodium diet self-management intervention in heart failure: pilot study results by D Welsh, TA Lennie, R Marcinek… – European journal of …, 2013 – journals.sagepub.com
Dietary sodium restriction: take it with a grain of salt by JJ DiNicolantonio, AK Niazi, R Sadaf… – The American Journal of …, 2013 – Elsevier
Heart failure patients’ perceptions on nutrition and dietary adherence by S Heo, TA Lennie, DK Moser… – European Journal of …, 2009 – journals.sagepub.com