Do you need to put away the salt shaker, or not? The debate over salt has raged for decades—it even came up in conversation with a neighbor here in Texas the other day. Up until now, the focus has been the effect of salt on blood pressure. But more recently, researchers have taken a closer look at the link between salt intake and bones.
What researchers have found is that salt can make your bones more brittle. That’s because increased salt intake causes the kidneys to remove increased amounts of calcium from the blood and deposit them in the urine. Obviously, as more calcium exits the body bones become weaker.
It goes without saying that you should minimize the amount of salt you add to food. Prepared and processed foods are also huge culprits because salt is a major ingredient in most of them. When you take a close look at the steady increase in the incidence of bone problems over the past two or three decades, you’ll see that it coincides with the increased use of processed foods.
Reducing Your Salt Intake Is Only Half the Story
Potassium is also important for healthy bones and can help counteract the effects of sodium. Potassium-rich foods include bananas, oranges, all green leafy vegetables, whole grains, potatoes (especially the skins), and my favorite sunflower seeds.
In fact, a craving for oranges or bananas is often a fairly good indicator that you are deficient in potassium. On the other side of the scale, sugar, alcohol, diuretics, profuse sweating, vomiting, stress, diarrhea, and salt consumption deplete potassium levels.
So What's the Bottom Line?
Put away the salt shaker; watch the sodium in the prepared foods you eat; and eat more bananas, leafy green vegetables, whole grains, and sunflower seeds.
Now it's your turn: Have you found any helpful tricks for curbing your salt intake?