12 Months to a Healthier You

By Mai Kholief

Add or remove a habit every month.

Topic of the Month: Shake that Salt Habit

As part of the “12 Months to a Healthier You” campaign, April is all about eliminating salt from your diet. It shouldn’t be news to anyone that a high sodium diet raises blood pressure, which in turn may lead to numerous health issues. No need to worry! I’m not just here to highlight some of the effects of sodium over-consumption, but I will be sharing some tips on how to avoid unknowingly exceeding your maximum daily intake.

According to the American Heart Association, an adult’s sodium ‘ideal’ daily intake should not exceed 1,500 mg. To put that into perspective, that’s less than ¾ of a teaspoon. We are not just talking about salt from a salt shaker, the ideal daily intake also covers the salt that’s already in many of the foods we eat. Not only do manufacturers add salt to packaged foods to enhance taste and flavor, but also do so to prolong shelf-life. This makes economical sense, and could be the reason why packaged foods are usually less expensive, but unfortunately our health ends up bearing the cost.

Let’s use this month to begin taking control of how much salt we include in our diet. I have to be honest, it won’t be easy. Research tells us that salt intake releases dopamine, which leads to an endless spiral of craving more and more salt-ridden foods, which ultimately leads to thirst. Feeling thirsty wouldn’t be a problem, if we always turned to water. This isn’t the case. Guess what? Diet sodas are also full of sodium!

The first thing we do whenever we buy any packaged item? Read the label. When buying nuts? Go for unsalted. Looking to have a snack? Grab some fruit or vegetables. Try substituting with different spices such as cumin, black pepper, oregano and cinnamon to enhance flavors. When we make a conscious effort to quantify how much sodium we consume, and ensure it does not surpass the daily ideal intake, we should immediately experience positive effects.

The positive effects include feeling slimmer, and less bloated as less sodium means less water retention. Gradually, your taste buds will begin to appreciate the natural flavor of foods, without the need for added salt. And, before you know it, the only time you’ll reach out to grab some salt, it’ll be for that relaxing day at the spa.

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