Feeling bloated? That may be because of high sodium levels in your body. High sodium levels combined with drinking plenty of fluid may cause fluid retention. As the tissues in your body hold more fluid because of the sodium, you begin to feel swollen or full in the abdomen. You may also feel like your skin is tight. In addition to causing your favorite jeans to feel too tight, high sodium can increase your risk of developing heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure. To lower sodium levels in your body, you will need to make some changes.
Put down the salt shaker. You need to reduce the amount of sodium you put into your body in order to lower your sodium blood levels. Healthy people should not eat more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium each day, which is only 1 teaspoon of salt. If you have problems with your kidneys or already have high blood pressure, you may need to eat even less than this. Look for other ways to flavor foods, including using herbs and spices, instead of adding salt. Some flavor-enhancer options include vinegar, lemon juice and fresh herbs, such as rosemary and dill.
Read food labels to cut sodium from your diet. Foods that sneak high amounts of sodium into your body include lunch meats, fast food, frozen dinners, canned soups and vegetables, processed tomato sauce and chips.
Drink more water to stay hydrated. When you don’t drink enough, you become dehydrated and sodium becomes concentrated in your blood. Drinking the amount of water your body needs each day -- about 2 liters for healthy adults -- will help keep your sodium levels in balance.
Include more potassium in your diet. Sodium and potassium work together to balance water in your body. Potassium will also help decrease sodium levels in your body. Another positive for potassium is that it will help ward off the negative effects sodium has on blood pressure. Finally, eating more potassium-containing foods can help you avoid medical conditions such as kidney stones and age-related bone loss. Although all foods have at least some potassium, fruits and vegetables with high amounts of potassium include sweet potatoes, peaches, bananas, spinach and fish. Filling up on these nutrient-filled foods will help you avoid packing in processed foods with high sodium.
- UpToDate: Patient Information: Low Sodium Diet
- ChooseMyPlate.gov: Salt and Sodium: 10 Tips to Help You Cut Back
- The Merck Manual Home Health Handbook for Patients and Caregivers: About Body Water
- Boston.com: Will Increased Water Consumption Flush Excess Sodium From the Body?
- MayoClinic.com: 10 Ways to Control High Blood Pressure Without Medication
- Water and sodium balance is a tricky subject, because increasing the amount of water you drink may actually lead to more bloating. This occurs because your body will hold on to the fluid you drink to try to help lower the concentration of sodium in your blood. Your tissues store the extra fluid, which is the bloating you feel. Combining adequate water intake with a low-sodium diet can help you stay healthier and decrease your chances of feeling bloated.
Abigail Adams began her freelance writing career in 2009, teaching others about medical conditions and promoting wellness by writing on online health and fitness publications. She is educated and licensed as a registered nurse, having received her degree from North Georgia College and State University.