In today’s Ultimate Transformation Moment, we focus on sodium in the diet. Many people ask about sodium and our dietary responsibilities to understand the mineral.

Understand that when you take a lot of sodium into the body system, the kidney is the main body party that deals with its distribution. The kidney functions to keep the body in balance. So once you start accumulating too much sodium in the kidneys, it becomes difficult to eliminate it through urination. The body must then start to attract and hold on to water and from that the blood volume increases.

This means you’re going to start putting a little more pressure on the heart and the heart is going to work harder and harder to move blood through the body and vessels, and eventually, it’s going to increase the pressure of blood flow through the arteries. This is called high blood pressure or hypertension, which can result in heart disease and possibly stroke. It also creates some kidney diseases, so we must learn to start limiting salt, but also remember it is just a small portion of the sodium we ingest.

Table salt definitely has a lot of sodium in it. But, the majority of processed foods we eat contain a tremendous amount of sodium and sodium chloride. These chemicals help preserve the foods, while they are on grocer shelves.

Natural foods like celery, onions, and garlic may also have sodium in them, but it is in very low concentrations. That’s why you can use these foods when you cook for seasoning. Meats such as, chicken, beef, etc. are preserved during processing which adds sodium. Then we pass down family recipes that have a whole bunch of sodium added to make the food taste better.

This is the breakdown that I want people to understand:
1) About five percent of our daily sodium comes from us adding salt to the foods as we cook;
2) Another six percent is added while we’re eating;
3) Another 12 percent comes from natural foods–just eating chicken, beef, and other the natural fruits and vegetables.

But note, 77 percent of sodium comes from processed and prepared foods, i.e. from hamburger stands and canned foods. So, an immediate solution to reducing sodium intake is to simply get back to the basics. Eat more fresh foods. Limit the processed and fast foods.

If you’re going to eat processed food, make sure it is low in sodium and then be aware of any additional condiments you use. Soy sauce, for instance, is very, very high in sodium as are salad dressing, sauces, dips, ketchup, mustard and pickled relish. They all increase the daily sodium intake.

If the sodium content-to-calories is proportionately one to one or less then, it’s possibly a good choice of food.

Finally, the daily allowance of sodium for a healthy adult, is 2,300 milligrams of sodium. If you have a heart problem, diabetes or hypertension, the allowance falls to 1,500 milligrams as the limit.

So, let’s make 1,500 milligrams or less be our daily sodium intake.

Be mindful of your food packaging. If something has more than 200 milligrams of sodium in it, you may not want to touch it, because that is too much sodium. If you see things that have sodium nitrate, baking soda, baking powder and of course, MSG-Monosodium-glutamate, you have to be very mindful, because these items are also very high in sodium.

How do we eliminate or drastically reduce our sodium intake? Reduce the intake of processed foods; drink more water to help eliminate the sodium that’s already in our body system; and exercise. Make sure you’re hydrated when exercising. That helps eliminate a lot of that excess sodium in the body system and helps you have a healthy heart.

We can live a long time, and we can do a lot for ourselves, but we must be mindful of sodium.
That’s our Ultimate Transformations Moment. Peace and be more.

Erich Nall is the owner and founder of Ultimate Transformations Training in Los Angeles, Calif. The certified trainer, nutritionist, motivational speaker, and dedicated life coach is a regular guest and commentator on KJLH 102.3 FM’s the “Front Page with Dominique DiPrima.” As founder of Collegiate Search Youth Organization, Erich has been assisting youth in the community for over 20 years.) He can be reached at www.ultimatetransformations.com.