4 Ways to Help Flush Out Excess Sodium from Your Body
Most people have a love-hate relationship with salt. It tastes great, and sodium is needed to help our bodies function properly. However, too much sodium over time can cause serious health concerns such as increased risk of heart disease and high blood pressure. If you have or are at risk for one of these conditions, your health care team will likely advise you to limit your sodium intake. But for those times when you've overindulged in salty foods, here are a few ways to flush out excess sodium from your body.
Why Your Body Needs Sodium
Sodium, or salt, is commonly used to add flavor to foods, but it has several other uses that can contribute to your overall health. Sodium is needed to help muscles properly contract and relax, and it's necessary for the regulation of fluid in your kidneys to help prevent dehydration. Research shows that sodium is an essential nutrient involved in the maintenance of normal cellular homeostasis and in the regulation of fluid and electrolyte balance.
How Much Sodium Should You Eat?
The majority of sodium comes from the foods that we eat. This includes processed foods and foods eaten at most restaurants. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, Americans should consume less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day as part of a healthy diet regimen, but the majority of adults eat more than 3,400 mg of sodium each day. Consuming too much sodium can bring about some serious health concerns, such as high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.
How to Feel Better After You Eat Too Many Salty Foods
These tips are meant to help someone who feels a little bloated after eating salty foods. If you have or think you have hypernatremia, an electrolyte imbalance that causes high levels of sodium in your blood and may be caused by dehydration, drugs or a high-sodium diet, please talk to your doctor. Hyponatremia, or low blood sodium, can occur with too much fluid intake and is also dangerous.
Drink More Water
Hydration is extremely important. Consuming sufficient water can help your body remove excess sodium from your body. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, daily fluid intake recommendations vary by age, sex, pregnancy and breastfeeding status, and there is no exact recommendation for how much plain water adults and youth should drink daily. Strategies to get plenty of water daily include consuming foods with a high water content, drinking beverages like unsweetened tea or seltzer and, of course, drinking plain water.
Increase Your Potassium Intake
Potassium plays an important role in maintaining fluid balance. Consuming foods that contain potassium, such as potatoes and avocados, can help to control blood pressure by reducing the effects of sodium and helping to remove it out of the body. According to the American Heart Association, most women should get 2,600 milligrams of potassium a day and men 3,400 milligrams a day, but most adults tend to get a lot less than that on a daily basis.
There can be too much of a good thing though. As you get older, your body has a harder time removing potassium from your blood. It's also a mineral to keep an eye on for people with kidney disease. Try to get your potassium from food sources, rather than supplements, and talk to a doctor if you have questions.
Increasing your physical activity is a great way to help your body get rid of any excess sodium. Exercising causes your body to shed a combination of water and salt. Because of this natural process, it's important to maintain good hydration if you're working out regularly, including drinking water during your workout, if necessary.
However, you can drink too much water during exercise. Hyponatremia is rare but it is something that marathoners and athletes should be aware of. Hyponatremia means your blood sodium is too low and can occur if you drink too much water. If you're exercising for a long time, especially in hot conditions where sweat loss may be greater, be sure to consume some salt and drink water to thirst, but not more.
Put Down the Saltshaker
When preparing or eating foods, try to resist the urge to add in additional salt. Using herbs and spices is a great way to add in extra flavor without increasing the sodium content. Another way to reduce your sodium intake is to limit your consumption of processed and packaged foods, cook more at home and buy lower-sodium versions of your favorite foods whenever possible.
Related: 9 Easy Ways to Cut Back on Sodium
The Bottom Line
Sodium is needed to help our bodies carry out normal functions, but too much sodium can be problematic and cause some serious health concerns. If you're feeling bloated, puffy or like you've eaten too much salt, try increasing your water intake, adding more potassium to your daily diet, increasing physical activity and reducing added salt.