It is National Kidney Awareness Month, so all of my posts for this month will be about the kidneys. There are very specific ways to help reduce the risk of getting Kidney Disease, or if you already have it, like me, preserving the function of the kidneys.
If you have ever been to a doctor, they have probably told you to watch your salt, or sodium intake. So, my very first tip is to know how much sodium you are actually consuming. Processed, canned, even some frozen foods are very high in salt. Salt is a preservative, so in order to make shelf foods last longer a lot of salt is added. Learning to read labels and calculating how much salt you are consuming is super important. Please keep in mind, even processed foods that say they are low in sodium, will most likely have something else added to it to replace the sodium. Read all the ingredients, not just sodium levels. This is especially important if you already have kidney disease.
Use salt replacements, spices, red wine vinegar, and lemon pepper seasoning to flavor food. I am going to just let you know, a tiny bit of lemon pepper seasoning goes a long way. You don’t need much for the food to be delicious. The brand I buy does have a little bit of sodium in it, so be mindful when buying it. I use red wine vinegar when cooking meat in place of oil, or butter. It has a lovely salty flavor, but no salt. Rice vinegar is also a mild vinegar with great flavor. Note that salt substitutes, like Mrs Dash, is very high in potassium, so use it sparingly especially if you have an issue with potassium levels. Do not forget the human body needs salt to survive. It can not be eliminated altogether or sickness will occur. Salt aides in regulating blood pressure, among other things. Sodium, and Potassium work together to maintain this balance. One tip I read was if one was going to consume a high sodium diet, to have some potassium with it.
So, how much salt is needed. I was shocked to learn that 6GM is the recommended amount for normal people to consume. That is 6,000 mg of salt! The average person consumes closer to 8,000 mg every day. If you want to prevent kidney disease, even reducing the salt in your diet to 6,000 mg would be a good start. 4,000 mg would be even better, and if you have kidney disease already 2,000 mg would be awesome. I try to follow 1800 to 2000 mg per day.
Learn to cook, avoid eating out, buy fresh, or organic foods. Yes, organic is more expensive, but it will reap the benefits in health. We are not fully organic yet, but we are working towards that goal. Organic foods, even in a jar, or box, generally have less sodium, at least that is my findings. Things like spaghetti sauce, which I have no desire to make my own, has less sodium when I buy organic. I can not stress enough learning to cook. You will learn exactly how much of everything you are putting in there. Eating out is awesome, it is a great family time event in our house. But, it is something we do occasionally, not frequently. If you have older children, or spouses can take turns cooking.
If you would like to meet your salt reduction goals, message me for a free meet and greet, or use the contact form at the bottom of this post. All meet and greets are done via email. Next post will be on the subject of how sodium actually effects the kidneys.