Sodium: The Silent Killer - How to Keep Your Sodium Intake in Check

Sodium: The Silent Killer - How to Keep Your Sodium Intake in Check

You’ve probably heard it before, but it is always worth reiterating the harmful effects of sodium on our health. While sodium is found in much of the processed, junk, and fast food products we consume today, high sodium consumption present many health risks that everyone should be aware of.

This article will discuss the health risks associated with high sodium consumption, especially for those who suffer from blood pressure-related issues. The article will outline solutions to cut down on sodium intake and reduce the harmful effects of sodium on one’s body.

Risks of High Sodium Intake

The most common and deadly risk that is presented through high sodium intake is high blood pressure. Sodium causes high blood pressure because it retains excess fluid in the body. This, in turn, creates an added burden on the heart to pump blood through the body’s blood vessels. Increased burden on the heart is very likely to result in increased blood pressure.

However, the health risks of high sodium intake do not stop at high blood pressure. This is because an increase in the average blood pressure, also known as hypertension, can lead to many other conditions and health problems.

The following list contains some of the most common health problems associated with high blood pressure.

  • Osteoporosis
  • Stroke
  • Heart Failure
  • Stomach Cancer
  • Kidney Disease

Sodium is also known as a silent killer, mostly because it slowly damages the walls of the body’s blood vessels. This can, in turn, lead to a whole host of health problems such as the few listed above.

High sodium consumption also causes more direct and immediate harm to the body through electrolyte imbalance, also known as Hypernatremia. When a person’s blood-sodium levels are elevated, they can experience multiple symptoms, including dehydration, profuse sweating, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, hyperventilation, and frequent urination.

It is best for those with high blood pressure to cut down on sodium products even more than regular people. This is because even the slightest elevation in blood-sodium concentrations in hypertension patients can significantly increase blood pressure even more, putting the person at a greater risk of blood-pressure-related conditions such as stroke or heart failure.

Recommended Daily Sodium Intake

Of course, the human body needs a little bit of sodium to function properly. While sodium should be consumed carefully, it cannot be eliminated from a person’s diet completely. For this reason, many wonder what the recommended amount of daily sodium intake is and how they can achieve this.

According to the American Heart Association, recommended amount of sodium that a person should consume daily is 2300 milligrams (mg). Unfortunately, research tells us that the average American adult consumes up to 3400 mg of sodium per day, much higher than the recommended amount.

For patients with high blood pressure, the recommended amount for daily sodium intake is much lower than the average person because of the higher risks to hypertension-related conditions. The American Heart Association recommends that high blood pressure patients should consume no more than 1500 mg of sodium per day.

Food Products High in Sodium

Contrary to what many people might believe, most sodium in the average American’s diet does not come from table salt. Research has found that 70% of all sodium eaten by Americans comes from processed and packaged food products.

This is the main reason why Americans today consume so much sodium in their diet and why most people find it so difficult to reduce their sodium intake to the recommended 2300 mg a day. Sodium is everywhere in the food supply chain, and getting away from it takes a good deal of planning and effort.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), close to 40% of the sodium consumed by the average American comes from the following food products.

  • Deli meat sandwiches
  • Pizza
  • Tacos
  • Burritos
  • Processed snack foods (chips, popcorn, etc.)
  • Burgers
  • French Fries


 Fresh food reduces sodium intake


How to Keep Your Sodium Intake in Check

You can take a few steps to keep your sodium intake in check and avoid many of the potential health risks that high sodium consumption brings to the table.

Cut Back on Processed and Packaged Food

The first thing you can do is cut down on or eliminate packaged and processed food products from your diet. This will help to decrease the vast majority of high sodium sources in your diet.

Read the Nutritional Facts Label

In the circumstance that you cannot avoid consuming processed or packaged food, you can keep your sodium intake in check by reading the nutritional facts label on the back of every packaged food product. Here you can find out how much sodium is in the food you are buying and purchase packaged food with relatively less sodium.

Eat Fresh and Non-Processed Food

Switching your dietary intake to mostly fresh and non-processed food will help you substantially decrease the amount of sodium in your diet. These can be bought from a fresh food market, a farmer’s market, or an organic produce store.

Some of the best foods to incorporate into your diet to keep sodium intake are the following:

  • Legumes
  • Lentils
  • Chickpeas
  • Unsalted nuts
  • Seeds
  • Coconut Milk
  • Almond Milk

Plant-Based Diet

Fresh, non-processed plant-based foods like the few listed above are very healthy and nutritious options that can help keep your sodium intake below the recommended daily intake limit of 2300 mg.

Research also shows that those who stick to a mostly plant-based diet have a lower blood pressure than those with a mostly livestock-based diet. This is because plant-based foods have lower sodium levels than other kinds of food naturally.

Lifestyle Changes

Other than changes to your diet, a few lifestyle changes can be made to keep your blood-sodium levels in check. Exercise, of course, is a great way to remain healthy and reduces sodium by forcing your body to sweat it out. Moreover, exercise helps increase the blood pumping capacity of your heart, lowering the risks associated with high blood pressure.

You can even reduce blood-sodium levels by regularly sitting in a sauna. This will help your body sweat out all the excess sodium in your blood. Other lifestyle changes include switching regular table salt to potassium salts, which should be much less detrimental to health over time.

Lastly, something as simple as washing canned foods with water before preparing them can also reduce the sodium in the food by a whopping 40%. That’s more than enough to keep your sodium intake in check if you consume many canned food products.

Final Words

High sodium intake is associated with many health risks and problems, including high blood pressure and the various health conditions associated with hypertension.

By avoiding processed and packaged foods and following some of the other dietary and lifestyle tips outlined in this article, you can ensure that your daily sodium intake does not exceed the recommended levels.

So start taking care of your health by fighting back against the silent and highly prevalent killer that is sodium.

The Vegan Diet for Beginners

Vegan Diet

The thought of starting a vegan diet can be daunting to many people. If you’re a newbie who is wondering ‘what is a vegan diet’, it's a diet that involves no animal food, including meat, eggs and dairy.


Vegan diets help to improve kidney function and lower your blood sugar levels. They are also great for people who are trying to lose weight.


Since the number of vegans has been growing in numbers and popularity, the food options for vegans are also increasing by the day.


The primary key to a vegan diet is having a variety of foods to ensure that you’re getting all the nutrients that your body needs. While there are many foods that people need to start a vegan diet, here are the ones that you should not miss out on.


Whole Grains

Whole grains provide your body with the necessary carbs it needs as a source of energy. Eating whole grains like quinoa and brown rice, as opposed to refined ones like white bread, white pasta, etc., is much healthier for you.


For starters, whole grains provide you with extra fiber that will keep you full for longer periods of time. In addition to that, whole grains also have many vitamins and nutrients that refined grains may be stripped of. Some of these include B vitamins, iron and many other minerals.


Plant-Based Proteins

Protein is an important nutrient needed by the body in order to stay healthy. It is crucial for almost every part of your body, from your muscle and organs to your skin and bones. If you are vegan, you may think that it’s harder for you to get your necessary protein intake since animal meats and diary are a major source of protein. However, that's not true.


There are many plant-based protein options for vegans. The key to this is having a good variety in your diet. Some plant-based proteins you can add to your vegan diet include tofu, lentils, chickpeas and beans. Seeds, such as sunflower, chia seeds and pumpkin seeds and nuts like walnuts and almonds are also a major source of protein. Fortified nutritional yeast and hemp hearts are also great options.


Vitamin B12

The right food means it should have the right vitamins and minerals. Vitamin B12 is a vitamin that helps convert your food into energy. It is important to maintain a healthy blood flow in your body and to keep the nervous system in check.


There’s no doubt that this vitamin is mainly found in animal foods, such as meat, poultry, eggs, fish, dairy, etc. What you need to know is that animals do not naturally have B12 and are being supplemented with it. You can also get this vitamin if you’re on a vegan diet. Some options to consider include protein/energy bars and fortified cereals, unsweetened soya drinks fortified with vitamin B12, yeast extract, like Marmite, which is also fortified with vitamin B12.


If you feel like you aren’t getting the required amount, you may want to consult your doctor and take a supplement.


Vitamin D

There are many vitamin D options for you if you are on a vegan diet. Vitamin D is in some fortified non-dairy milks, such as soy or almond milk and orange juice. The best way to get vitamin D is to expose yourself to the sun, however, that isn't always possible. If you feel that you aren't able to get a good amount, despite your efforts, then again, you should consult your doctor and get on supplements as a lack of vitamin D could have many effects on your body and mind.



While animal proteins, such as meat and chicken may be the best sources of iron, there are many ways in which you can get an adequate amount of iron if you are on a vegan diet. Vegans can still get this mineral from beans, legumes, pulses, whole meal bread and flour, cereals fortified with iron, dark green, leafy vegetables, like watercress, broccoli and spring greens, nuts and dried fruits, such as apricots, prunes and figs.


However, keep in mind that iron from plant sources is not as easily absorbed as it is from meat sources. To absorb most of plant-based iron, you should increase your intake of foods that are rich in vitamin C as they boost absorption.


If you are taking iron supplements, you may want to keep in mind that you should avoid taking them with caffeine as it limits absorption and is one of the biggest reasons why people end up feeling so fatigued. Take them 60-90 minutes apart.



Calcium is integral for strong bones and overall health. It's what helps prevent osteoporosis, which is a disease that causes your bones to weaken and even break. If you are on a vegan diet, there are many ways for you to get your calcium intake. You can drink fortified soymilk and fresh juices. To add to that, you should have soybeans and dark leafy greens like bokchoy, broccoli, sesame seeds and tahini, pulses, dried fruit, such as raisins, prunes, figs and dried apricots and kale as they have calcium. Keep in mind that the body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium so you should ensure that you’re getting the required amount for it to take effect.


Omega-3 Fatty Acids

To improve your heart health and brain functioning, you need to ensure that you are getting your Omega-3 Fatty Acids. The fact that you can only get them from fish is a common misconception. Look for food products fortified with Omega-3 from plant sources. Some of them include flaxseed oil, rapeseed oil, soya oil and soya-based foods like tofu, walnuts, etc.


If you feel like you aren’t getting the required amount and need more, Marine Algae Derived Omega fatty acid supplements are great for getting your Omega-3’s.

Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are important for vegans to get their necessary micronutrients and antioxidants. They are rich in vitamins and minerals and will be an excellent addition to your meals as well as a good replacement for many of them too. For instance, you can replace banana with eggs while baking. We already touched upon how important your leafy greens and other vegetables are in your diet, especially if you’re vegan. The same goes for fruits.


It is said that you should eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day in order to have a balanced diet. From berries to citrus fruits and dried fruits, they all have so many benefits for your body and are an excellent source of energy.


Each of the foods mentioned above is great for people who need to start a vegan diet. Make sure to get them all in so that you can have a balanced diet and get all the nutrients that your body requires to stay healthy. Happy eating!

Effects of Alcohol on Metabolism and Weight Management

Effects of Alcohol on Metabolism and Weight Management

Even though Happy Hour at restaurants and bars has been canceled, no thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, alcohol consumption still seems to be on the rise, and it’s easy to see why. With many folks under strict stay-at-home orders and the rest without a job, it is no surprise that national alcohol sales have risen by 54% over the past year.

So, it’s settled. We love to drink alcohol, whether it’s a glass of wine at dinner, a six-pack during the game, or enjoying shots during the weekly meet-up with friends via Zoom. But, it turns out, knocking back too much booze could be what’s keeping you from your slim-down goals.

Here’s why.

One of the reasons why alcohol consumption should be dropped, or better still, removed from a person’s daily diet is because alcohol is the first fuel to be burned by the body’s metabolism. Why’s that? Alcohol is made by fermenting starch and has a high thermogenic effect or amount of energy that’s needed to metabolize.

However, going through the fermentation process, called microsomal ethanol oxidizing system, creates a toxic by-product known as acetate. This is why once we drink alcohol, the metabolism of alcohol always takes priority, as the body needs to remove this toxin. This means that the oxidation of proteins, carbs, and fats is suppressed.  

Alcohol Damages the Stomach and other Organs

Since alcohol is a by-product of yeast digestion, it can damage the lining of the stomach. With time, this weakens other major organs of the body, such as the liver and the kidneys, which not only leads to major health issues but can weaken the rate and efficiency of food digestion and harmful toxins being filtered from the body, which ultimately has a negative impact on weight management.

Increases Your Appetite

According to a study, any alcohol that is consumed before meals can increase the caloric intake as compared to a carbohydrate drink. Researchers have also found that when people drink alcohol during meals, they are likely to consume more as compared to those who would have a soft drink along with their meals. An increased intake of food results in a caloric spike which also hinders weight management. Since alcohol tends to have a greater appetite-stimulating effect and offers no nutritional value, it is best to remove it from your daily diet, especially if you are looking to shed extra pounds.

It Leads to the “Beer Gut”

For those men who think that the beer belly or beer gut is just another myth, all you have to do is stand in front of a mirror. Most people make the mistake of thinking that since alcohol contains “empty” calories, there’s no harm in imbibing while following a weight management  regimen. They could not be more wrong. While the calories that are found in alcohol are considered “empty,” as in they do not offer any nutritional value, they do end up getting stored as fat in the body. Excess calories lead to weight gain and the inevitable beer gut that’s really difficult to get rid of, which is why it is a good idea to skip alcoholic beverages if you’re looking for faster weight management.

But Wine’s Good, Right?

Hmmm, we might be on to something here. Drinking wine has been linked to better cardiovascular health and low cholesterol, but a glass of red wine does hit around the 120-mark in terms of calories. However, since wine is sipped rather than chugged down, it has all the signs of a winner, especially when it comes to the type of alcohol one consumes while not sabotaging their weight management goals. That being said, it is advised to stick to the one-glass rule when enjoying a chardonnay (or any wine for that matter).


Ending Note

Anxiety due to major stressful events in life (such as a global pandemic or losing your job) is enough for many folks to become impulsive drinkers, and our body’s chemistry doesn’t help much either. While imbibing does make you feel better by taking away the stress for a hot minute, the long-term effects can be serious. Since alcohol has calories, drinking too much could result in packing on the excess pounds.

Also, alcohol lowers the body’s inhibition, which means you’re likely to eat more than you normally would. Add up the calories from your favorite booze and the meal you’ve just eaten, and you will find that you’re eating heavier calories, which will be apparent the next time you step on the bathroom scale. Depending on your weight management goals, it would be best to nix the booze from your diet to enjoy faster weight management and leaner muscle mass.

Besides, alcohol consumption has also been associated with numerous health issues, which means it’s best to empty out that miniature bar before you start on a weight management regimen.

This Soda Could Save Your Life!

This Soda Could Save Your Life!

By Ryback Reeves

Time and time again I get emails and DMs from people asking me how they can cut out sodas from their life. They either have a serious addiction to sugar-filled sodas that are destroying their health with a massive abundance of sugar or corn syrup, or they’re consuming ridiculous amounts of artificial sweeteners or colors like aspartame or sucralose. You see, when it comes to obsessions, the best thing I’ve found in life in dropping a bad obsession is finding a good obsession to replace it, and this situation calls for the same, as many have an attachment to flavors and carbonation.

I was one of those people who drank his fair share of sugar-laden sodas as a child, before getting the urge to try my parents' Diet Pepsi in the refrigerator. I remember not being totally sure of the taste at first, but the more I seemed to drink the better it seemed to get, where without even knowing it, my addiction to the sweet poison began. It would continue well into my teens and early twenties when I was consuming massive amounts of diet sodas, energy drinks and supplements. I felt like complete shit most times and would go from high energy to zero energy, which I’ve documented in other blogs just how bad the symptoms were that I had, including waking up like a zombie despite 7-8 hours of sleep, blurry vision, blackouts and very bad sugar cravings despite not eating a high sugar diet in my twenties.

I came to a point where I knew I had to make some serious changes and chose to cut out all artificial sweeteners. Now, when I did this, I was not aware there was a replacement for diet sodas etc., so I pretty much just went cold turkey, which I will admit wasn’t easy. It took me months to really fully shift away and in that time would grab a diet soda at a fast food spot, get a headache almost instantly after consuming, and just get more reaffirmed that I was doing the right thing. Eventually, though, I came across this soda called Zevia. Zevia is a zero calorie soda sweetened with Stevia but with no artificial sweeteners or colors. The first time I tried this I knew I had found the perfect drink to give me that soda taste and carbonation without all the other junk. I’ve been a major advocate of them ever since, even working with them for a period on my original podcast years ago. They have every flavor you could want, including their versions of Coke, Dr. Pepper, Mt Dew etc. along with nine others for a total of twelve flavors. These days, I will drink one every day or every other day, and find them to be a refreshing alternative or great for later in the evening when I don’t want any calories, but want something with some flavor and carbonation. There’s enough things in this world though that are bad for us, so do we really need sodas and diet sodas adding to that list? Next time you’re in the grocery store, grab a six-pack or a single can in the cold beverage section and see if you love them as much as I do.

Why We Must Eliminate Artificial Sweeteners from Our Diet

Why We Must Eliminate Artificial Sweeteners from Our Diet

Artificial sweeteners are used in many beverages and food products, especially diet products. While it is widely believed that these are beneficial to our health and help prevent diseases such as diabetes, that is not the case.


Contrary to popular belief, the use of artificial sweeteners in diet products can lead to serious health complications. If you already have existing health conditions, such as obesity, they are even more of a risk for you to take. Most people use artificial sweeteners to lose weight but what they don’t know is that it actually ends up making them gain more weight!


Two of the most common artificial sweeteners used today are aspartame and sucralose, both of which can be harmful to human health. Find out more about them and why you must eliminate them from your diet:

Artificial Sweeteners: What Are They Used for?

Often when a product is labeled sugar-free, it means that it contains an artificial sweetener instead. Here are some of the everyday items that have different types of artificial sweeteners in them:


  • Diet soda
  • Yoghurt
  • Low-calorie fruit juices
  • Sugar-free ice cream
  • Certain candies and gums


Many popular beverage brands that we consume on a daily basis also have artificial sweeteners. One such example is Coke Zero that contains aspartame. You can check whether or not a product contains aspartame by looking at its Nutrition Facts Label.



Aspartame is an artificial sweetener that is commonly used in place of sugar in many foods and drinks. It is generally sold under the brand names NutraSweet and Equal. It is also commonly used in packaged products. It is 200 times sweeter than sugar, which is why you only need to use a small amount of it.


Dangers of Aspartame

You may not be aware of it but there are many dangers of aspartame that can severely affect your health and well-being in the long run. Although it is widely believed that aspartame is safe for consumption and scientific studies have confirmed its safety, that is not completely the case. In fact, there are dangers associated with its consumption.


Some reports reveal that instead of causing weight management, aspartame can cause weight gain. It can also result in an impaired response to glucose and insulin resistance, particularly among people who have type-2 diabetes. Reports also show that aspartame can act as a chemical stressor in the body, thereby making the hormone that's responsible for weight gain, known as cortisol, rise. This causes weight gain specifically around your belly.


To add to that, it can also lead to some cognitive and behavioral problems, such as seizures, headaches, learning disabilities, migraines, ADHD, anxiety, depression and insomnia. Furthermore, it can lead to serious illnesses later on, such as cancer, multiple sclerosis (MS), Alzheimer’s disease and more.



Sucralose is a popular artificial sweetener that is known for being made of sugar as it claims. It can be used on its own or used in Splenda. When used on its own, it has no calories and that’s what makes it high in demand. Currently, it is found in more than 4,500 products. It can also be used for cooking, which is another factor that adds to its popularity.


People commonly mistake sucralose as sugar but you must remember that it’s nothing like it. It is 600 times sweeter than sugar, which is why you don’t have to use much of it. For starters, sucralose is not a natural substance and is mixed with chemicals that can be extremely harmful to human health. Did you know that it also has chlorine in it? Chlorine is a chemical that is used in poisonous gas, plastics, disinfectants, etc.  Therefore, it should not be consumed.


Some common symptoms associated with sucralose include bloating and nausea. A person can also start to feel skin irritation and itching, rashes, swelling, and so on. To add to that, symptoms such as a cough, runny nose, chest pain, mood imbalances, itchy eyes, etc., are also common among individuals who consume sucralose.


Dangers of Sucralose

Often, sucralose is sold under the name ‘Splenda’ which is among the most common artificial sweeteners out there. It is highly dangerous because this synthetic sugar isn’t recognized by the body. For starters, it can cause diabetes and increase your risk for type-2 diabetes by decreasing your insulin sensitivity, which essentially prevents the absorption of glucose in cells. It can also lead to weight gain, just like aspartame. Studies conducted on both humans as well as animals have proved this. To add to that, it can increase your risk for cardiovascular disease as well as hypertension.


Sucralose is also known to increase your risk of getting irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease. Studies have shown that there is a direct correlation between the amount of sucralose consumed and the rise in inflammatory bowel disease.


Natural Alternatives

If you are trying to eliminate sugar from your diet, there are many natural alternatives that you can choose from. These alternatives are healthier, lower in calories, and will give you the same amount of sweetness. Some examples of such natural alternatives are honey, natural fruit juice, maple syrup, agave nectar, stevia leaves, etc. Each of these is natural, however, that doesn't mean that they should be consumed excessively, they should still be consumed in moderation.


You now know the dangers of these artificial sweeteners, so take charge and get rid of them from your life. You will thank yourself in the long run. Besides, there are so many natural and healthy alternatives, so why risk your health?