Sodium: the silent killer for millions of people. Scary, right? Why is it we can’t lose the salt shaker then? Because it’s the “silent,” unseen residual killer. It’s not “in your face” obvious.
Now to start, sodium does have its purposes. Your body needs some sodium to function properly. Mayo Clinic says sodium helps maintain the right balance of fluids in your body, helps transmit nerve impulses, and it influences the contraction and relaxation of your muscles. Your kidneys naturally balance the amount of sodium stored in your body for ideal health. If your body sodium is low, kidneys hold on to the sodium. If your body sodium is high, your kidneys excrete the excess in urine.1
The National Kidney Foundation says 1 out of 3 American adults are at risk of kidney disease because of two major risk factors including diabetes and high blood pressure, or a family history of kidney failure and being age 60 or older. Chronic Kidney Disease or CKD is strongly linked to hypertension control.2, 3
Why is this important to me to help you?
About 3 years ago, my primary care doctor saw a slight elevation of protein in my urine which if untreated causes proteinuria which can lead to chronic kidney disease. He sent me to a nephrologist (who, I must say, was awesome). He was thorough with explanations, even giving examples in pictures. I tease him about that, but I needed pictures. He set up a few things to have done.
- Blood work and a 24-hour urine test
- A kidney biopsy IF my blood work and urine weren’t acceptable
- Dietary changes to my sodium (yes sodium!).
If your blood work and urine show levels for proteinuria, that is a strong predicator for increased risk of chronic kidney disease. CKD is slowed in progression by blood pressure control which is controlled by (among a few things) most importantly, sodium intake.
Now my blood work and urine, didn’t come back with proteinuria, but my numbers were close enough that he said I was in danger of progression towards CKD. Well I can tell you that scared me.
He went on with the kidney biopsy a week or so later. The biopsy showed a level being okay, but he said if I didn’t get my numbers decreased to something like 0 as opposed to my 1800, I was going to have to sign up for dialysis if I didn’t make dietary changes to lower by blood pressure which in turn would help the progression toward proteinuria. It’s about the GFR or glomerular filtration rate. My kidney should have been getting rid of the sodium it didn’t need and it wasn’t.
So, for starters he increased my blood pressure medication which I was already on for maintaining a 120/80. This had been controlled for a few years. He said that specific bp med was utilized for lowering numbers for this very diagnosis he had indicated I was headed towards. He also introduced another blood pressure medication to help with lowing my numbers further.
Lastly, he said my sodium in my diet had to be decreased because my levels were at point that my kidney was overworking. Which leads me to the difficult portion of his plan. CUTTING MY SODIUM, A LOT!
Which brings me to this course of sorts. Showing you that even though it’s been hard for me, I have gotten my daily sodium intake for everything that goes in my mouth to 2400mg of sodium daily or less. Now as that sounds like a lot, it’s not! I was eating takeout pizza 2 times a week, lunchmeat sandwiches, diet cokes from McDonalds, fast food for 2 more times a week, and lots of milk. I work M-F, with a commute of 40 minutes each way. Time is not a thing I want to waste in the kitchen. So, I’ll show you what I did to help with cutting my sodium, save time in the kitchen and bring down my BP for my doctor.
Looking forward to seeing you in the next supplement of Be You Low Sodium!
Credit goes to the following sites:
1Mayo Clinic. 2017. “Sodium: How to tame your salt habit.” Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/sodium/art-20045479
2National Kidney Foundation. 2017. “Prevention.”
Retrieved from https://www.kidney.org/prevention
3Lascano, M., Nurko, S., & Schreiber, M. August 2010. “Chronic Kidney Disease.” Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved from http://www.clevelandclinicmeded.com/medicalpubs/diseasemanagement/nephrology/chronic-kidney-disease/#top