Dieting and Fasting

What is Considered a Low Sodium Diet?

Last updated on October 20th, 2022 at 07:40 am

Low sodium diet is an important part of maintaining good health. It is essential to maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating right. There are many benefits of following a low sodium diet. Learn more about the low-sodium diet here!

Low Sodium Diet Plan

Salt is associated with not only food but several revolutions, from the famous Dandi March of our country to the French revolution. Without salt, our food is flavourless and we cannot preserve our food. Without sodium, our body cannot survive! It is needed to maintain the volume of our blood, the acid-base balance, transmission of nerve impulses and for normal cell function. This mineral, considered rare, is now freely available thanks to modern technology and food processing.

Historically, man as the gatherer-hunter did not need salt for his food; the sodium content of natural food – from cereal grains to pulses, meat, vegetables, and fruits – met the demands of his body. We do not really need to add salt to our food to meet the body’s sodium requirement, but when we became settlers and farmers we developed a taste for the mineral and since then we have slowly increased the content to a point where it is now becoming a health concern.

Recommended daily salt intake

WHO recommends a salt intake of less than 5 gm/day, which is less than 2gm of Sodium/day. ICMR states that the body needs between 1.1 to 3.3 g of sodium or 2.8 to 8.3 g of Sodium Chloride aka salt per day to function. The actual intake is about twice this amount worldwide. The increase in sodium intake is linked to urbanization, and an increased quantity and frequency of processed food intake.

High salt intake, a primary source of sodium in our diets, is linked to hypertension, an increased risk of cardio-vascular diseases and stroke. Low-sodium diets are also recommended for people suffering from heart failure, renal failure and cirrhosis of the liver.

How to start a low sodium diet?

It is easy to eat a low sodium diet, just choose right:

  • Lentils and pulses are naturally low in sodium and provide healthy proteins, folate, potassium, phosphorus, and fibre. While choosing meats, go for fresh or fresh frozen meats rather than processed meats such as bacon, sausages, luncheon meats, hot dogs, salted fish, and frozen dinners.
  • Fresh milk, paneer, dahi are all low in sodium. Processed cheese like goat, ricotta, and fresh mozzarella are low in sodium while hard cheeses like cheddar and cheese spread have a high sodium content. Ice creams and frozen yogurts are in the category of ” go easy”
  • Fruits and vegetables, which are seasonal and fresh, you can eat any amount. Besides being low in sodium, they are rich in potassium, which also helps control your BP and is complimentary to sodium. Fresh frozen fruits or dried fruits are a thumbs up, but canned and marinated vegetables are a prime source of sodium. Tomato sauces and ketchup are also to be consumed in small quantities.
  • Whole grains and cereals in their natural form are the healthiest. Breakfast cereals made from these are also great choices. Bread, biscuits, baking mixtures, ready to eat cereals are where we add extra sodium to our daily diet. Ready to eat meals, bakery items like croissants, doughnuts all add a large amount of sodium to our intake.
  • Snacks are the main area where we introduce excessive sodium in our daily meals. Nuts and seeds are a healthy snack choice, however, salted nuts and seeds are a no-no. Snacks like potato chips, salted, buttered popcorn, and our favourite namkeens and commercially prepared Mathis are not only high in sodium but also fat and are calorie dense, too.
  • Keep the salt shaker off the table, cook with just enough salt to add flavour. Sauces like soy, fish sauce, pickles, and chutney’s all use salt for preservation. Use them in moderation.

Natural foods are not adding excess sodium to our diets while buying processed foods learn to read the labels. Always look for the per serving content of sodium and also know the portion of that serving. Sometimes the nutrition label gives a per hundred grams nutritional information, whereas a serving may be 200-250gms, so the actual amount consumed may be significantly higher than what you thought.

If the product has more than 140mg of sodium per serving, it is a prime source of sodium and if it has less than 5mg of sodium; it is a no sodium food. Some labels list the values in% DV, then 5% or below is a low and 20% is a top source of sodium.

Common Myths About Salt

Here are some

  • When I sweat more, I need extra salt. Not at all; you need more water. Sweat has very little sodium.
  • Sea salt or natural salt is better: Salt is salt, whether sea, rock, Himalayan or any other exotic salt, all are basically sodium chloride. They all contain the same amounts of sodium as the humble cooking salt.
  • I feel weak with less salt: It is practically impossible to eat too little salt, as all food has sodium in it.
  • I have replaced my salt with low sodium salt: low sodium salts are usually potassium salts, which helps reduce the intake of sodium from your diet but does not help change your salt preference, key to adapting to a low-salt diet. These salts should not be taken by people on medication for high blood pressure, kidney diseases or diabetes without consulting their health care providers.

Use Iodized Salt

Another very important point to keep in mind while choosing your salt is to ensure it is iodized. Indian salt manufactures have to fortify their product with iodine without fail, but if you prefer the natural varieties, keep it for special dishes and use iodized salt for the main part of your cooking.

Moderation is the key to healthy eating. Fresh food is the best meal maker. Between these two points, you can lead a healthy life and control any medical issues you may be facing.

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Salt Deficiency

Major health organizations, including the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommend not over 2300 mg of sodium per day, which roughly comes to one teaspoon of salt per day.

We always worry about high intake of salt, but on the contrary, even low salt intakes can have serious implications. Some of these implications include depression, weakness, nausea, vomiting, cramps, headache, irritability, confusion, etc. Serious deficiency can even lead to seizures, coma, and, sometimes, it may be fatal too.

Salt deficiency symptoms

  1. Headaches – Your nervous system requires sodium to function and when the levels of sodium drop, it can lead to severe headaches.
  2. Nausea and vomiting – This is your body’s way of getting rid of the excess water which is causing an imbalance in the sodium level.
  3. Confusion – Your nervous system quite depends on the sodium levels in order to send messages through its neurons. If you are deficient, chances are your brain cannot receive the message and further cause confusion.
  4. Fatigue – If your body is short of sodium, then your blood’s ability to deliver nutrients and flush the waste may get hampered, which may further cause fatigue.
  5. Muscle weakness and cramps – If your muscles do not get rid of the waste products, like excess lactic acid because of your low blood sodium levels, the waste products may cause cramps and spasms in the various parts of the body.

While it is good to keep a balance, you should also ensure that you are not loading up on processed foods that contain a good amount of sodium. So considering the current lifestyle of an adult these days, the salt intake needs to be taken care of as it could have a direct impact on our health.

Your Table Salt Contains Deadly Cyanide

In a shocker, a US lab report reveals that premium brands of processed iodised salt sold in India allegedly contain alarming levels of carcinogenic components like potassium ferrocyanide.

According to Shiv Shankar Gupta, Chairman of Godhum Grains & Farms Products, the test by American West Analytical Laboratories has revealed that potassium ferrocyanide levels are an alarmingly high in Sambhar Refined Salt at 4.71 mg/kg, at 1.85 mg/kg in Tata Salt and 1.90 mg/kg in Tata Salt Lite.

Nowhere in the world is potassium ferrocyanide – a deadly poison – is permitted for the edible salt industry or in any other food items, said Gupta, who has launched a mission “to rid salt of harmful substances, expose corrupt practices by the salt industry and help provide healthy and safe natural variants of salt to the masses”. 

“Leading companies in the edible salt manufacturing industry simply repackage industrial waste laden with hazardous chemicals like iodine and cyanide and market it as packaged edible salt, making people vulnerable to diseases like cancer, hyperthyroidism, high blood pressure, impotence, obesity, kidney failures etc,” he told media persons here.

He accused the companies of adapting “dangerous and undisclosed processes such as bleaching, adding a plethora of dangerous chemicals like iodine and cyanide to ‘refine’ the salt”.

Gupta alleged that the poisonous cyanide compounds are freely used by leading salt manufacturers in India, while iodine, which is already present in natural salt, is artificially added, virtually rendering the salt a poison.

He said that the country’s natural salt industry – spread across Gujarat’s Kutch, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan – has been systematically destroyed by successive governments which hailed “iodised salt” as a healthy alternative.

“Declaring salt from these salt pans, which is naturally suited for human consumption, as inedible, is one of the biggest scams in post-Independent India. This is one of the worst cases of corporate greed and corruption with the livelihood of workers in the indigenous salt industry at stake,” Gupta claimed.

A strong nexus between the government and industrial lobbies is cheating workers of the indigenous pan salt industry, where it is found in natural form, but it sold at exorbitant prices, leaving the consumers with no choice but to buy the cheap, chemical-laced variants, he added.

He accused the government departments entrusted with ensuring quality standards in the production of a branded salt of being “inert”.

“RTI applications show that none of the big salt manufacturers have applied for testing or licensing with the FSSAI, which – on its part – has been unambiguous in how refined salt is produced. Food testing labs in the country are not equipped to measure the quantity of cyanide in salt,” he claimed.

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