Josh Bezoni Complaints: Sodium Linked to ObesityBy Coach Josh Under General Health Tips, Josh Bezoni Complaints: The Obesity Conspiracy Exposed, Nutrition Tips
In this special article series titled Josh Bezoni Complaints: The Obesity Conspiracy Exposed, I explore one of the most frequently asked questions that I receive from my valued subscribers, “Coach Josh, what are some of your biggest complaints about the weight loss industry?”
Sodium is something that the body needs to function properly—it’s important for water balance and nerve function, among many other physiological functions. However, you only need a small amount each day—about 500 mg is plenty. You would eat this amount snacking on a serving of most chips, crackers, canned food items (especially soups and canned veggies), pickles, various cheeses, pretzels, or salted nuts. (Not to mention that condiments like ketchup and salad dressings are packed with sodium.)
The bottom line: Most Americans are eating WAY too much sodium (4,000 to 6,500 mg daily), and it’s not only hurting their health, it’s expanding their waistlines. In fact, the American Medical Association (AMA) is pushing the FDA to withdraw its designation of salt being a “safe” food additive. (They want Americans to cut their intake by half.)
To me, this is really no surprise. After all, big food manufacturers know salt is a very addictive substance. All they need to do is stuff more of it into processed foods and people will eat more…while the food companies make more. Case in point: Clinical research has shown that salt shares characteristics with addictive substances (like morphine, cocaine, and heroin), by causing our bodies to release feel-good “brain chemicals” when we eat it. This is why salt addictions are quite common and some people who are told to reduce salt consumption have a difficult time doing so and often experience cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
In addition, a 2006 Finnish study published in Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases found a link between increased salt intake and obesity. They noticed that between the 1980s and mid-1990s, the salt intake in the U.S. increased by more than 50% as the population began eating more and more processed foods. Now keep in mind that when people eat more salt, they naturally have the desire to drink more fluids to maintain the water balance in their bodies.
Well, guess what? Between 1977 and 2001, U.S. caloric intake from sweetened beverages (like the “fruit” drinks, soft drinks, and energy drinks that are typically full of sugar and high fructose corn syrup) increased by a whopping 135%. Wow, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that as food companies make food that is saltier, people consume more of it, and then slug down more super-sized sugary drinks to wash it all down.
If that weren’t bad enough, a diet that has too much sodium is a leading cause of high blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease and stroke—diseases that also go hand in hand with obesity. High blood pressure (a reading over 140/85) is caused when too much salt enters the blood, making the blood thick like a salty sludge. To thin the blood, your body will dump extra water into your blood vessels—causing the pressureto increase as the blood vessels expand. African Americans, Hispanics, and obese men and women tend to have a higher sensitivity to sodium and are more prone to high blood pressure as a result.
How much salt is okay? If you’re choosing your foods from the Belly Fat Free Approved Food Choices (see Chapter 7), you really don’t need to worry about this. However, if you want to get technical, anything below 2,300 mg of sodium a day is excellent.
If you are already at risk of high blood pressure, then you should limit your salt to less than 1,500 mg a day.
By the way, I encourage you to use unrefined salts like Celtic Sea Salt or pure Himalayan Pink Salt, because they have all 84 minerals (regular table salt has only two), and they don’t go through the unhealthy refining process like regular table salt does.
WARNING: Many fast food and quick-service restaurant meals will put you over this “daily allowance” really quickly. For example, a McDonald’s double cheeseburger and small fries contain 1,310 mg of sodium. A mesquite chicken salad from Chili’s (which might seem healthy, right?) has 2,710 mg of sodium, and that’s more than a healthy adult should eat in an entire day.
You can limit your salt intake by:
• Eating fewer processed foods
• Opting for frozen or fresh veggies instead of canned
• Buying fresh meats instead of canned, cured, or smoked
• Choosing low-sodium versions of soups and snacks like (baked) chips, pretzels, and cheeses
• Asking for unsalted entrees at restaurants
• Choosing foods that don’t list salt/sodium in the first five ingredients
• Replacing your salt shaker at home with a salt-free herbal blend
To Your Health!
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