A diet high in sodium (salt) may encourage water retention in the body, in an effort to “flush out” the excess salt. The retained water enters your cell walls which increase the volume of the cell. The increased volume increases the pressure within blood vessels to pump into the cells. If this occurs consistently and high blood pressure is not regulated, this can lead to hypertension (chronic high blood pressure).
Sodium and Blood Pressure
Renin – an enzyme, angiotensin II and aldosterone – hormones, all work to maintain a balance of sodium within your body to control blood pressure. These bodily compounds act when sodium is low. Renin, an enzyme which originates in the kidneys, begins this cycle by cleaving angiotensinogen to create angiotensin I. Angiotensin I is converted to it’s active form, angiotensin II. Angiotensin II induces the secretion of aldosterone. Aldosterone allows the body to conserve sodium. When sodium is high, this cycle is not as active.
Hopefully from this brief description, you can see how eating a high sodium (salt) diet can increase your blood pressure and risk of hypertension. Hypertension can lead to a slew of health issues. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to stroke by damaging and weakening your brain’s blood vessels, causing them to narrow, rupture or leak. High blood pressure can also cause blood clots to form in the arteries leading to your brain, blocking blood flow and potentially causing a stroke.”
How To Reduce Sodium In Your Diet
- Eat More Fresh Foods – Most of the sodium in our diets comes from packaged, processed and already-prepared (restaurant) foods. Prioritize fresh fruits and vegetables in your intake as these foods are naturally low in sodium.
- Cook More Meals At Home – Restaurant meals are extremely high in sodium. Cooking at home allows you to take control of how much salt goes into your meals. And cooking at home doesn’t have to be a big orchestration!
- Opt For Water – Bottled beverages like soda, fruit and vegetable juice tend to be sneaky sources of salt. Swap those drinks for water. Water can also help to “flush out” excess sodium.