20 September 2010

Sodium and its dangers

Since my discovery that reducing my sodium intake helped with my neuropathy and edema, my research has led to other reasons that those of us with diabetes need to watch our sodium levels.

Our increased risk of cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure is a big benefactor of reduced sodium. The American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association both suggest 2400 milligrams of sodium for the upper limit. This equates to one teaspoon of salt.

In my research I have not discovered a lower limit for sodium. This is disappointing as the body does need sodium on a daily basis. Even the doctors I have talked to are not able to suggest a lower limit, only quote the 2400 milligrams. For me personally, I have reduced my sodium intake to nearer the 1200 milligram level with occasional excursions to near the 600 milligram mark. Presently this is my lowest limit, but I do not encourage others to do the same.

Sodium does affect too many areas that people with diabetes are at risk for. There is a relationship between diabetes and epilepsy, diabetes and retinopathy, neuropathy, diabetes and heart disease, and diabetes and hypertension. These are all reasons to keep you sodium intake limited.

There are many foods that we need to eliminate to reduce the amount of sodium that we eat. Two sources of lists agree but the second is more complete about what we should carefully consider eliminating from our food intake.

Canned meats, soups, vegetables, and packaged processed meats lead the list. Then prepared and pre-mixed products, packaged snacks, some cereals, and some other foods like commercially prepared salad dressings and soy and steak sauces. Both sources did not but should have added most frozen TV meals for any meal. They also forgot to include most fast foods like french and other fries, meats and some salads. So read their lists and add your own items that you know are high in sodium.

Another concern is all the forms sodium is included in foods. Sodium, sodium nitrate, sodium chloride, disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate, sodium phosphates, sea salt, and salt. These are just some of the forms of sodium that are added to foods.  Here is a list of spices and herbs that can work as a substitute for salt and that help add flavor to your foods.  There are a lot of ideas in the article, and excellent food for thought.

One of the best ways to help limit your sodium intake is eating fresh foods as much as possible.  For those of us in the midwest and northern US, the local farmers markets are near the end of their offerings.  Some grocery chains will be getting fresh foods from the Southern Hemisphere and Mexico during the winter months.

For more to read, use your search engine for “diabetes and sodium”. There are many good sources and some that you might want to avoid. At least read them carefully.

No comments:

Post a Comment