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Hypertension (blood pressure) and how sodium affects hypertension Understanding Blood Pressure

Every person needs blood pressure to live. Without it, blood wouldn’t be able to circulate through the body to carry oxygen and fuel vital organs. Blood pressure is the pressure your blood exerts against your blood vessel walls as your heart pumps. Blood pressure rises with each heartbeat and falls when the heart relaxes between beats, but there is always a certain amount of pressure in the arteries. That blood pressure comes from two physical forces. The heart creates one force as it pumps blood into the arteries and through the circulatory system. The other force comes from the arteries resisting the blood flow. Blood pressure changes from minute to minute and is affected not only by activity and rest, but also by temperature, diet, emotional state, posture, and medications.

How Does High Blood Pressure Affect the Body? High blood pressure adds to the workload of the heart and arteries. The heart must pump harder and the arteries must carry blood that’s moving under greater pressure. If high blood pressure continues for a long time, the heart and arteries may no longer work as well as they should. Other body organs, including the kidneys, eyes, and brain also may be affected. People can live with hypertension for many years without having any symptoms. That’s why high blood pressure is often called “the silent killer.” Though a person may not have any symptoms, it doesn’t mean that the high blood pressure isn’t affecting the body. Having high blood pressure puts a person at more risk for strokes, heart attacks, kidney failure, loss of vision, and atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). In rare cases, severe hypertension can sometimes cause headaches, visual changes, dizziness, nosebleeds, and nausea. Hypertension is uncommon in 80 percent of the world’s population where salt intake is also very low. In places where salt intake is high, the disease is epidemic, affecting approximately one half of adults. Americans consume an average of 10 to 15 grams of salt per day. That’s two to three teaspoonfuls than the actual body needs.

Hypertension and Sodium
Sodium and Hypertension

Sodium: Are you getting too much?

The main sources of sodium in the average U.S. diet. But a pinch and a dash of salt can quickly add up to unhealthy levels of sodium, especially when many foods already contain more than enough sodium. About 11 percent of the sodium in the average U.S. diet comes from adding salt or other sodium-containing condiments to foods while cooking or eating. But the majority of the sodium – 77 percent – comes from eating prepared or processed foods. So even though you may limit the amount of salt you add to food, the food itself may already be high in sodium.

Sodium: Essential in small amounts

Your body needs some sodium to function properly


§ Helps maintain the right balance of fluids in your body

§ Helps transmit nerve impulses

§ Influences the contraction and relaxation of muscles

Your kidneys regulate the amount of sodium kept in your body. When sodium levels are low, your kidneys conserve sodium. When levels are high, they excrete the excess amount in urine. If your kidneys can’t eliminate enough sodium, the sodium starts to accumulate in your blood. Because sodium attracts and holds water, your blood volume increases. Increased blood volume, in turn, makes your heart work harder to move more blood through your blood vessels, increasing pressure in your arteries. Certain diseases such as congestive heart failure, cirrhosis and chronic kidney disease can lead to an inability to regulate sodium. Some people are more sensitive to the effects of sodium than are others. People who are sodium sensitive retain sodium more easily, leading to excess fluid retention and increased blood pressure. If you’re in that group, extra sodium in your diet increases your chance of developing high blood pressure, a condition that can lead to cardiovascular and kidney diseases.

So how do you identify foods high in sodium?

The best way to determine sodium content is to read food labels. The Nutrition Facts label tells you how much sodium is in each serving. It also lists whether salt or sodium-containing compounds are ingredients. Examples of these compounds include:

§ Monosodium glutamate (MSG)

§ Baking soda

§ Baking powder

§ Disodium phosphate

§ Sodium alginate

§ Sodium nitrate or nitrite

Three main sources of sodium

The average U.S. diet has three main sources of sodium:

§ Processed and prepared foods. Most sodium in a person’s diet comes from eating processed and prepared foods, such as canned vegetables, soups, luncheon meats and frozen foods. Food manufacturers use salt or other sodium-containing compounds to preserve food and to improve the taste and texture of food.

§ Sodium-containing condiments. One teaspoon of table salt has 2,325 mg of sodium, and 1 tablespoon of soy sauce has 1,005 mg of sodium. Adding these or other sodium-laden condiments to your meals – either while cooking or at the table – raises the sodium count of food.

§ Natural sources of sodium. Sodium naturally occurs in some foods, such as meat, poultry, dairy products and vegetables. For example, 1 cup of low-fat milk has about 110 mg of sodium.

Taste alone may not tell you which foods are high in sodium. For example, you may not think a bagel tastes salty, but a 4-inch oat-bran bagel has 451 mg of sodium.

How to cut your sodium intake

You may or may not be particularly sensitive to the effects of sodium. And because there’s no way to know who might develop high blood pressure as a result of a high-sodium diet, choose and prepare foods with less sodium.

You can control your sodium intake several ways:

§ Eat more fresh foods and fewer processed foods. Eats lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. They need no added salt. They also increase potassium stores, which helps lower blood pressure.

§ Opt for low-sodium products. Look for unsalted snacks (if you need them) and foods that have reduced sodium.

§ Remove salt from recipes whenever possible. You can leave out the salt in many recipes, including casseroles, stews and other main dishes. Baked goods are an exception. Leaving out the salt could affect the quality as well as the taste of the food.

§ Limit your use of sodium-laden condiments. Salad dressings, sauces, dips, ketchup, mustard and relish all contain sodium.

§ Use herbs, spices and other flavorings to enhance foods. Learn to flavor foods with lemon juice, parsley, tarragon, garlic, or onions, instead of salt.

§ Use salt substitutes wisely. Some salt substitutes or light salts contain a mixture of table salt (sodium chloride) and other compounds. To achieve that familiar salty taste, you may use too much of the substitute and actually not reduce your sodium intake. In addition, many salt substitutes contain potassium chloride. Though dietary potassium can lessen some of the harm of excess sodium, too much supplemental potassium can be harmful if you have kidney problems or if you’re taking medications for congestive heart failure or high blood pressure that cause potassium retention.

Learn About Label Terms for Sodium

Here’s what food product labels tell you about sodium:

-Sodium Free Less than 5 milligrams sodium per serving

-Low Sodium 140 milligrams or less sodium per serving

-Reduced/Lower Sodium At least 25% less sodium per serving when compared to a similar food

-No Salt Added No salt is added during processing (when this product is normally processed with salt). The product may not be a sodium free food, so check Nutrition Facts

A Diet very low in fat yet high in fiber lowers the blood pressure about 10 percent even without weight loss or salt restriction.. Every third adult in North America has high blood pressure. This puts them at risk for heart failure, stroke, and other debilitating diseases. Obesity, narrowed arteries, smoking, lack of exercise, estrogen, alcohol, and high salt intake all contribute to the problem. Fortunately, most cases of hypertension can be reversed in weeks by simple dietary and lifestyle changes. If you follow the eighth laws of health you will have great results which include: Nutrition-Exercise-Water-Sunshine-Temperance-Air-Rest-Trust in Divine power.

Encouragement: “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.” Psalm 143:8



2. Department of Agriculture, Nutrient Data Laboratory, 2005


4. New England Journal of Medicine (1997) Dr. Lawrence J. Appel of Johns Hopkins University.

5. Heath by Choice Not Chance. Aileen Ludington, MD & Hans Diehl, DRHSC, MPH, 2005

Source by Lukerson Alphonse

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