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Salt Addicts : Steps To Break The Habit

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7 Signs That You Are a Salt Addict and the Steps to Break Out of the Salt Habit

Our body needs minerals like salt to function normally. However, our modern diet contains more salt than we need. When we have overconsumption of salt, it can lead to hypertension or an increase in blood pressure. The long-term effect of which can be fatal heart disease, stroke, and even osteoporosis.

We should only consume an approximate amount of 6 grams of salt daily for an average adult. But, with our current eating habits and lifestyle, we are most likely consuming more than double the suggested amount.

How will you know that you are on the verge of becoming a salt addict? Do you frequently reach for the salt shaker when eating? Do you have the urge to add salt to your salad, veggies, and even citrus fruits? If the answer is yes, you are a salt addict.

It is a fact that salt adds flavor to anything. But there are plenty of other ways to flavor your food even without salt. Let us take a look at the seven top signs that you are a salt addict.

Bloating

Overeating of something can make your body bloat. In the case of salt, it can cause the body to retain water, particularly around the abdomen. You can point your finger to the gas inside the body, but the real culprit is salt because it exacerbates water retention, which is harder to remove than gas. Not only can feeling bloated can make you feel uncomfortable, but it can also be unattractive too.

Edema

Excess in the consumption of salt can cause swollen ankles, calves, and feet. The reason is synonymous to bloating where the salt encourages the water to retain because it wants to dilute as much salt as possible. When there is extra water that builds up in the tissues, swelling will ensue. Edema refers to the swelling of the body’s extremities.

Cravings

One of the most obvious signs that you are addicted to salt is when you keep wanting to eat salty foods. When you satisfy your salt craving more frequently than you should, you will have overconsumption.

Excessive Thirst

It could be a sign of other health issues like diabetes, but when you have excessive thirst, it can be a sign too that you are overconsuming salt. Your body naturally wants to get rid of the excess salt by diluting it in water. That is for you to pee out more of the salt. But when you take more salt than average, your body has to compensate by needing more water.

If you notice that you are drinking more water than you usually would, you should go and see your doctor. You could be on your to becoming a salt addict, or this is the first sign of diabetes.

Frequent Urination

Not only will you be frequenting the bathroom, but your urine will appear thicker and darker because of overeating salt. While it might not be serious, you are losing calcium when you pee. When the body has no enough calcium, it may take calcium from the teeth and bones.

Muscle Cramps

Those who exercise regularly will notice tighter muscles when they overeat salty foods. The reason behind this is because calcium and sodium are the minerals that your body needs for a contraction while potassium helps the muscles to relax. When you consume more salt (sodium), you are upsetting the balance causing your muscle to experience soreness.

Fatigue

Getting overly tired is not a direct result of overeating salt. However, dehydration is the culprit, which is a result of overconsumption of sodium. When you have a lot of salt in the body, your body wants to get rid of them through frequent urination. As a result, your body loses more electrolytes too in the process.

Hypertension

Because excess intake of salt can make your body hold more water, this excess water can raise the blood pressure. We all know the terrible consequences of high blood pressure. It can put a lot of stress on your organs like the heart, arteries, kidneys, and the brain.

Did you know that to cope with the stress, the small muscles on the artery walls become stronger and thicker?  You might think that it is a good thing, but it’s not. It can raise the blood pressure even more because the space inside these arteries become smaller.

Many people are unaware that they have hypertension until they go for a checkup and have a series of test at the doctor’s office. And the first question the doctor will ask is if they consume more salty foods. Although it is more satisfying to eat with too much salt, the health effects can be severe. It includes kidney stones because salt makes the kidney work harder, osteoporosis because calcium is flushed out of the body through urine and even cancer of the stomach.

How to Get Off the Salt Addiction

The main perpetrator of your salt addiction is your habit. Many researchers have observed that people salt their food even before tasting it. It is like they are on autopilot and will automatically reach for the salt shaker. To get rid of your salt addiction, you have to change your eating habits and train your taste buds. Here are steps to help you wean off from your overconsumption of salt

1.   Remove highly processed foods from your pantry

What are highly processed foods? These are your pantry staples that have a longer shelf life with several artificial ingredients. When you look at its sodium content, you will find that it contains more than 140 mg per serving. Most of these processed foods include cold cuts, cheese and bread and savory snacks that you all love to grab like pretzels, popcorn, and chips.

The only way to know if what you’re buying is highly processed is by reading the labels. There are substances other than salt that is hidden in the names like MSG, baking soda, sodium benzoate, and disodium phosphate that has high sodium content.

2.    Replace prepackaged grab foods with vegetables and fruits

Although you have cleared out your fridge and pantry, you can still get these foods from the convenience store or vending machines. Instead of eating processed snacks, you can gradually replace them with prepared fruits and vegetables.

3.    Remove the salt shaker

You need the salt shaker psychologically. You need to train your taste buds not to rely on salt for taste. You can reintroduce salt into the diet with the lower sodium options. The salt you frequently bought from the stores are highly processed and loaded with anti-caking agents, anti-absorbing chemicals, and preservatives. You can have salt in the salt shaker that is natural and healthy like Himalayan salt.

4.    Incorporate other spices and herbs into your meals

Aside from natural salt, you can start putting spices and herbs when cooking. By learning to add flavor in different ways, you are training your taste buds not to depend on salt for flavors. There are plenty of seasoning options out there that can make better tasting foods than salt.

The only difference between addictive substances and salt is we need salt (sodium) for our body to function correctly. Salt cravings can be common, but if it rises to the level of addiction, it can be alarming. The best way to cut down the salt intake is to gradually change our eating habits and replace them with healthy meals that you can cook at home. 

( Photo credit: Bigstock.com )

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