What to Do After Eating Too Much Salt
A few weeks ago, I tried a new restaurant where I ate the Nashville-style hot chicken and a side of fries. The meal was not exactly Cooking Light-approved, but, hey, we all have our occasional indulgences.
I usually have no problems winding down at night, so I thought it was odd that my heart was racing, my body felt swollen, and I couldn't fall asleep a few hours after dinner. After some late-night Googling (which is rarely a good idea, but in this case it actually helped), I found out that my body was probably reacting to the excess salt from my meal. It turns out in three pieces of hot chicken, there's over 3,000 mg of sodium — well over the health target of 2,300 mg per day — and I wasn't even counting the fries I had.
95 percent of the sodium you eat is absorbed into your body — even if you don't frequently overdo it on the salt, it still has the potential for negative impact. A study from the Center for Disease Control showed that 90 percent of Americans eat too much salt, and the average adult has an average daily intake of 3,592 mg.
Over time, your kidneys have trouble keeping up with excess sodium, so your body holds onto water to dilute it (hence why you might feel bloated and puffy). This process increases the fluid around the cells and the volume of blood in your body. Increased blood volume means that your heart has to work extra hard — over time, this could lead to high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke.
Cooking Light's Nutrition Director, Brierley Horton, MS, RD, says, "Overdoing it on sodium can easily happen when you're consuming prepackaged foods or eating out at restaurants, especially if you have a salt sensitivity. The best thing you can do is listen to your body."
While we definitely don't encourage you to regularly have a salt fest, eating too much sodium happens. Here are the best ways to bounce back.
Drink a Ton of Water
Drinking lots of water helps flush sodium from your kidneys; staying hydrated will also help you feel less bloated.
Hop on the Treadmill
Exercise will help you lose a little sodium through your sweat. Again, just make sure you're staying hydrated.
Eat a Banana
Potassium helps counteract sodium. Foods like bananas, white beans, leafy greens, and potatoes are all great sources of potassium. Horton says, "Eating high-potassium foods is good because they are usually whole foods that are also naturally lower in sodium. However, those with kidney disease should monitor potassium intake and talk to their doctor."
Talk to Your Doctor
Certain people run a higher risk of being sensitive to salt, including those over the age of 51, African Americans, and those with cardiovascular disease or high blood pressure. If you're concerned about your salt intake or think you may be sensitive to salt, it's definitely worth calling your doctor.