If you’re reaching for the snacks but also feeling achy, tired and older than you are, you might want to think again about what you’re eating.

We all want more energy and to age well but ESP’s wellbeing columnist Karen Devine says salty foods could be the reason for many of our ills (and wrinkles) so ditch the added salt and say hello to a new (more lively) you…

We all accept (some more than others) that changes in our body are an inevitable part of ageing and that symptoms such as stiffness, aches/pains, weight gain, thinning hair, sleep issues, fatigue, sluggishness, bags under the eyes and deep wrinkles are expected with advancing years. But are they really part of ‘natural’ ageing?

We can go into our advanced years with good flexibility, strength, healthy weight, good hair, enough energy and adequate sleep – many elders across the globe have proven this. Today though, many people in their teens, 20’s, 30’s, 40’s and 50’s are complaining about sluggishness, stiffness, thinning hair/nails, sleep issues, fatigue and weight gain.

There are many reasons for unnatural signs of ageing in the younger years which include life experiences, stressful events, weakened constitutions, toxins, ineffective eliminations and nutritional status. The effect of toxins in our body is a topic I’ve often delved into over the years, but I wanted to focus in on one key ‘added ingredient’, salt, that can play havoc with our vitality and flow in our body and how this one component can set off a cascade of cellular imbalances.

Salt is found in abundance in our modern food, from crisps, crackers, processed meats, gravy granules, stock cubes and more.

There are known health issues with added salt in the diet such as high blood pressure, but you may not be aware that many health issues (that are not labelled diseases) may also be triggered by added salt. This is different from organic sodium found in our natural foods such as that from our vegetable kingdom.

Sodium and potassium play a key role in cellular energy production. Potassium is found mainly inside the cell and sodium placed outside. Our body’s evolved to hold on to sodium more than potassium as all our natural foods are higher in potassium than sodium.

There is also a special enzymic pump on our trillions of cells which does a great job of keeping this balance (i.e sodium out of the cells) but with today’s change of diet which is now more sodium rich (salt added to foods and manufactured foods), this pump has to work much harder, it is also dependent on magnesium for its optimal function. Hence, why low magnesium status can result in chemical changes at the cell level.

Our kidneys are also built to excrete excess sodium but again, organs, glands tissues and cells can all wear down if their efforts are constantly hindered by the influx of toxins, chemicals or in this case salt which creates an acidic environment inside the cell.

When the sodium/potassium balance is disrupted it will have an impact on our energy production – lower energy leads to low vitality. Low cellular vitality can create a cycle of lowered uptake of nutrients, weakened cells so we may be more susceptible to invaders, as well as a cell that is not able to give up its toxins so readily leaving us with accumulations.

From a naturopathic perspective, there are many symptoms linked to imbalance of sodium/potassium which include heavy periods, sinus troubles and more.

Those symptoms that we put down to advanced age such as loss of calcium from the bone can also be due to the leaching of calcium to buffer the sodium leading to the deposition of calcium in the soft tissues and joints triggering the stiffness/aches. It can also trigger symptoms such as bloating and under eye bags because of the water imbalance.

Craving of salty foods is common – cheese, crisps, savoury snacks etc – but if we’re looking to improve our vital energy, lessen the bloat, ease our aches/pains and improve the bags under our eyes it all starts at this primitive level.

So we need to lessen the amount of salt we add to foods, eat as close to nature as possible and increase our potassium levels naturally with leafy greens, fruits and other vegetables.

Once you start to reduce the salt content of your diet, you might get a surprise when you eat a crisp or manufactured savoury food and you suddenly taste the amount of salt and not the food itself as your taste buds adjust.

It’s not just the over consumption of sodium rich foods – alcohol, coffee and excess sugar will also deplete potassium and create an imbalance which directly impacts the cell environment.

If you want to experience flow in the body, good energy/vitality and youthfulness then it all starts with this basic principle. So when you’re next looking at a ready meal or reaching for the crisp packet – maybe think twice about just how much salt you’re really eating.

Karen Devine

For more from Karen just head to her website


Written by ESP Magazine

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