How to Keep Sodium Low in Aging Adults
Updated: Oct 27, 2022
Salt is a wonderful way to perk up any dish. But did you know that most Americans are eating way more than the American Heart Association’s recommended limit of 2,300mg per day? You may not think you’re getting too much salt because you can hardly remember adding salt to anything on your own and that’s the tricky part. Most of the foods we buy already have salt added.
Added Salt Really Adds Up!
Take a simple meal, like chicken tacos. If you’re buying pre-cooked chicken, the kind you reheat and serve, then there’s definitely added sodium there. If you used canned beans, there’s added salt in the can as well. You might be safe with the veggies, but if you use any sort of packaged condiment or salsa, then there’s also added salt in there.
Sodium and the Body
The body relies on the kidneys to deal with excess sodium in our blood. The more sodium our body has, the more water we retain to help dilute it. This, in turn, will increase the volume of blood and increases overall blood pressure. Over time, all of this extra effort will stiffen blood vessels and can lead to high blood pressure, stroke, or even heart attacks or failure. All of these threats increase in likelihood for our aging loved ones.
That’s why it’s important to be mindful of your loved one’s sodium intake to help keep the body operating in good condition. Here at Christian Companions Houston, we know just how important diet and nutrition are for preventative care for your aging loved one. Below, you’ll find some tips and tricks to help ensure your loved one is keeping their sodium intake at or below recommended levels and help mitigate the damage that salt can wreak on the body.
Stifle the Salty Six
One of the things to be mindful of when watching sodium intake is not just how much salt a product has, but how much, and how frequently we consume that product.
According to the American Heart Association, there are the Salty Six foods which are popular, everyday foods that can easily topple over our sodium diet if we’re not careful. The salty six are:
Breads and rolls
Cold Cuts and cured meats
Burritos and Tacos
Looking at that minor list really shows the prevalence of sodium in our everyday foods as even just 1 slice of pizza can have nearly ⅓ of your daily sodium recommended intake.
If your loved one’s diet consists of many of these kinds of foods, it's important to start shopping for low-sodium versions and even consider alternatives altogether.
Mention it to the Waiter
Eating in the comfort of your own home with the groceries you know to be low-sodium options is easy enough, but what about when you go out to eat? How can we keep our loved one’s sodium intake in check out at restaurants?
This is where communication is key! Relay your sodium diet to your waiter and restaurant staff, and ask them about the dishes with the least amount of salt. Wherein possible, ask them to plate sauces and spices on the side rather than into the dish. This way, you can more accurately measure and portion your loved one’s sodium intake.
Drain the Can
When using canned goods, be sure to drain the excess water and even give them a rinse under the tap. This will help wash away the added salt (and potentially sugar) that companies add to make their product more appealing.
Learn Your Labels
In order to know just how much sodium is in the foods we buy, it’s important to understand the nutrition labels. For salt purposes, we’re interested in sodium. But it’s crucial that we understand the amount of sodium something has both per serving, and per container. Most labels will tell you the nutritional value on a per-serving basis. Then, you multiply that by just how many servings are in the container itself. It’s important to know how much sodium is in the entire container as serving suggestions are usually not the actual sizes we typically serve ourselves.
Christian Companions Houston is a company that believes in the power of caregiving, and we know that caregivers are compassionate people who like to listen and assist. We're here for you—reach out to us if you need help in the Houston area, and we can find or create a plan that works for you and your aging loved one.
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