How Does Salt Affect the Health of Older Adults?

Salt is an amazing nutrient our bodies need for a variety of reasons. However, consuming too much salt does more than make you feel bloated and thirsty. High doses of sodium in your diet could lead to more serious problems.

Why should older adults be more cautious when consuming salt? There’s a reason for this. But first, let’s look at why salt is so important to the human body.

Why is Salt so Important?

About 40 percent sodium and 60 percent chloride combine to make what we call ‘salt’. On average, we need roughly 500 mg of daily sodium intake to function properly. 

Why is that?

Here is a list of ways salt benefits our bodies each day:

  • Conducts nerve impulses
  • Contracts and relaxes muscles
  • Maintains proper balance of water and minerals
  • Protects against heart disease
  • Prevents muscle cramping
  • Supports a healthy nervous system

Without consuming enough salt, you could end up feeling weak, drowsy, dizzy, and experiencing muscle weakness. Older adults in particular are sodium deficient due to medications that cause frequent urination. Also, with age comes a higher chance of fluid buildup in the body which dilutes the amount of sodium and puts older people at further risk of health complications.

What is the Danger of Consuming Too Much Sodium?

While sodium is an amazing nutrient that our ancestors have relied upon for numerous centuries, anything in excess is potentially harmful to our bodies. Unfortunately, consuming a diet high in salt could lead to developing some of the following health problems:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Osteoporosis (causing calcium loss in your bones)
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Kidney disease
  • Other chronic health conditions

How Should Older Adults Balance Their Sodium Intake?

Regulating your sodium consumption is important especially as you age. Here are some easy ways to start finding a healthier balance in your salt intake and reap the benefits without the negative effects.

Ditch Processed Foods — Start eliminating processed foods as much as possible from your diet. Crackers, chips, canned soup, frozen meals, and more tend to be high in sodium and bad for your health. Processed foods use high levels of sodium to help them last longer and taste better. 

Eat Whole Foods — ‘Whole foods’ are foods that are how they appear in their natural, unprocessed state. Eating fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, fish, and poultry instead of processed foods is going to help tremendously regulate your sodium levels. Whole food diets will offer you the best chance of getting the salt intake you need without going overboard.

Rinse Canned Foods — If you buy canned beans or other vegetables, be sure to rinse them in a strainer before cooking them. This will help eliminate any preservatives added to maintain freshness.

No More Salt Shakers — Having a salt shaker on your table is going to increase the likelihood of consuming an excess of salt. Instead of adding salt to your food, develop the habit of using other spices and herbs to bring out the flavor without so much added salt. Try using lemon, garlic, and pepper as alternatives to table salt.

Older adults are cautioned to remain balanced and healthy in their nutritional habits. They have a greater impact on their longevity and quality of life than at any other time in their lives, so it is important to keep track of intake and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

South Coast Post Acute is Southern California’s Premier Post-Acute Partner

Better health and healing are possible with the right professional oversight and daily nutrition. At South Coast Post Acute, we deliver the services needed to restore health, regain autonomy and reduce the occurrences of rehospitalization. 

South Coast Post Acute is here for you, at any age. Our innovative care, experienced staff, and welcoming accommodations combine to bring you the high level of care you’ve come to expect from Southern California’s leading post-acute provider. 

Contact us today for more information on how we can help on your journey back to restored health.

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