You probably see products marked 'low-sodium' every time you go to the grocery store. If you are not a senior, you may not worry about your sodium intake very much. However, for seniors, reducing sodium is actually extremely beneficial for overall health. Read on to find out why.
What Is Sodium?
Sodium can be found in many foods, but it is most commonly present as sodium chloride, or salt. While salt is an essential component of a healthy diet, on average many Americans eat more than 3,400 mg of sodium on a daily basis.
Why Is Too Much Sodium Bad for Seniors?
Seniors are especially vulnerable to the negative effects of high sodium intake. Too much sodium can increase blood pressure, which can lead to an increased risk of stroke or heart attack. It may also contribute to fluid retention, which can be particularly problematic in people with congestive heart failure or chronic kidney disease.
According to the American Heart Association, most American adults consume too much sodium. In fact, studies show that the average American adult eats more than 3,400 milligrams of sodium every day. The AHA recommends that adults limit their sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams per day. Seniors over the age of 51 are even more at risk for developing high blood pressure and other associated health issues, and should limit their daily intake to 1,500 milligrams of sodium or less.
Benefits of a Low-Sodium Diet
Lower Blood Pressure. Did you know that increased sodium levels can lead to high blood pressure? This is because sodium leads to an increase in water retention, which causes your heart to work harder and can lead to hypertension. The consequences of high blood pressure can be serious, and include heart attack, stroke, and chronic kidney disease. Seniors are more susceptible to the ill effects of high sodium than younger individuals, and the effects of these health conditions can be more severe and difficult to recover from. A low-sodium diet can help to reduce your blood pressure and decrease the risk of developing these conditions.
Maintain Healthy Kidney Function. Reducing sodium intake is also important for maintaining proper kidney function and reducing the risk of developing chronic kidney disease. High sodium levels can lead to water retention in the body, increasing blood pressure and causing the kidneys to work overtime. This can eventually cause damage to the kidneys, leading to decreased function and difficulty filtering waste from the blood. By reducing your sodium intake, you may help maintain healthy kidney function and reduce your risk of developing chronic kidney disease.
Better Vision. Increased sodium levels can lead to high blood pressure, which can damage the blood vessels in your eyes, leading to decreased vision. As we age, our vision naturally begins to decline, and high blood pressure can make the problem worse. A low-sodium diet can help you maintain healthy blood pressure levels and reduce the risk of vision problems.
Decreased Cancer Risk. Scientific research has shown that high levels of salt intake often correspond to an increased risk of certain types of cancer, especially colorectal and stomach cancers.
Lower Risk of Obesity, Diabetes, and Heart Disease. Many foods that can lead to weight gain contain high amounts of sodium. This includes fast food, processed meats and snacks, and high-salt canned foods. Eating these types of food on a regular basis can lead to obesity, which is associated with increased risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke, and other health issues. By reducing your sodium intake, you could help reduce your risk of developing these conditions.
Higher Energy Levels. Too much sodium in our diets can cause us to feel sluggish and tired. This is because too much sodium can lead to fluid retention, which can leave you feeling bloated and uncomfortable. By reducing your sodium intake, you may be able to increase your energy levels and enjoy a more active lifestyle. Exercise has also been shown to be beneficial for seniors, so a low-sodium diet could help give you the energy you need to stay active.
Keeping Track of Sodium Intake
Fortunately, there are a number of ways to help you keep track of your sodium intake. Food labels will provide information about sodium content, and many websites offer helpful resources for tracking your daily sodium consumption. Additionally, it's important to watch out for hidden sources of sodium, such as canned soups, frozen dinners, and processed meats. Making changes to your diet can be difficult, but it's worth the effort to reduce your risk of developing serious health problems.
Contact BrightStar Care Today
By following a low-sodium diet, seniors may be able to reduce their risk of developing heart disease and other chronic illnesses while also increasing their energy levels and improving overall health. At BrightStar Care, we can provide meal planning services for seniors that can help them reduce their sodium intake and enjoy a healthy diet. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you or your loved one achieve better health.