With a Grain of Salt: Why You May Not Need to Limit Your Sodium Intake
How to Avoid Bloating, Loss of CalciumFact #3: You'll feel sodium's side effects; your husband probably won't.
The morning after a salty dinner, you're likely to feel like the Michelin Man. Your guy? Not as much. "The more sodium you consume, the more water your body retains to dilute it," says Suzanne Trupin, MD, director of Women's Health Practice in Champaign, Illinois. "Women have a smaller blood volume than men, which means that even tiny increases in salt can cause puffiness." Hormones also play a role. "Your body is primed to hold on to water a day or two before your period to prep for pregnancy or to compensate for the fluid it will lose through menstruation," Dr. Trupin says.
To beat bloat, limit the amount of processed and prepared foods you eat. "They account for almost 80 percent of our sodium intake," Dr. Appel says. "Check labels; ideally a product should have no more than 200 milligrams of sodium per serving, and a full meal should have less than 600." Skip processed foods several days before your period and drink plenty of water. "The better hydrated you are, the quicker your system can filter out excess sodium," Dr. Trupin explains.Fact #4: Too much salty stuff can hurt your bones.
Eat a particularly salty item, like a dill pickle, and you may lose calcium. That's because sodium and calcium are excreted through urine, and too much of one substance increases the loss of the other, explains Robert P. Heaney, MD, professor of medicine at Creighton University's Osteoporosis Research Center in Omaha. To protect your bones, Dr. Heaney recommends eating enough dairy to get 1,200 to 1,500 milligrams of calcium daily. "Spread your servings throughout the day," he says. "You'll absorb the calcium more efficiently that way."
Originally published in FITNESS magazine, February 2011.
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