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Surprising High-Sodium Foods You Need To Avoid For Kidney Health

Surprising High-Sodium Foods You Need To Avoid For Kidney Health

Our kidneys are delicate yet vital organs. By removing unwanted fluid in our bloodstreams, they perform some very important functions in our bodies. Not only do they keep our bloodstream healthy, they also regulate blood pressure by keeping an appropriate salt and water balance. A high-salt diet can alter this precise regulatory function within our bodies leading to higher blood pressure, and the many diseases linked to this, as well kidney failure and other kidney related diseases.

Several research papers have cited salt as a silent killer precisely because many supermarket foods contain surprisingly high amounts of sodium. In the UK, 3 per cent of the National Health Service’s entire budget is spent solely on treating kidney disease. So what foods do we have to be careful with if we want to reduce our daily sodium intake? Here are a few to watch out for.

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1. Cereal

Cereals are healthy, right? That’s how many big cereal brands promote themselves in our supermarkets today, but even some of the so-called “healthy” options contain alarming amounts of salt. Many cereals have up to 12 per cent of the daily recommended intake in only one serving. That’s 180 to 300mg of sodium per serving. A better option is plain oatmeal topped with a serving of fresh fruit, which will help you towards a much healthier daily intake.

2. Bread

Another staple breakfast food that is often promoted as part of a healthy balanced diet, but some supermarket brands of bread can contain very high amounts of sodium. A study carried out in 2011 showed that brown bread, the supposedly healthier variety, which is a good source of fibre, made up four of the five saltiest loaves in a sample of 300 popular brands in the UK. The figures, put together by the Consensus Action on Salt & Health (CASH) campaign group, suggest that a child aged four to six could exceed their recommended daily intake just by eating a sandwich made using one of the popular brands.

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    3. Cottage Cheese

    Cottage cheese can be a nutrient-filled addition to any breakfast or snack. It packs in a good amount of calcium, is relatively low in fat and is a surprisingly good source of protein. However, some varieties can also have surprising amounts of sodium in them. One serving can contain almost 1000mg of sodium which is about 40 per cent of your recommended daily intake. Greek yoghurt, which contains a small fraction of the sodium, is a great protein-rich substitute.

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    homemade-cottage-cheese-recipe

      4. Hot Chocolate

      Much like cereal, we wouldn’t bat an eyelid seeing it on a high-sugar foods list, but it’s surprising to see how much salt some of the well-known supermarket brands of hot chocolate contain. One serving can contain 7 per cent of your recommended intake. That’s a lot of salt for a drink! Bearing in mind a regular serving can contain about 20g of sugar too, it may be delicious but it ain’t healthy.

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      5. Seafood

      Seafood can be a fantastic source of omega-3 fatty acids and can be a great aid to healthy heart function. Fresh salmon, for example, can help to lower cholesterol and lower blood pressure. It’s always very important to know how your seafood is prepared though. Canned tuna can contain up to 300mg of sodium in a small serving, whilst four large shrimp can contain 200mg. Always read the tin carefully, which leads us to our final point..

      6. “Reduced-Sodium” Foods

      It’s so easy to be led astray these days by supermarket labelling into thinking we’re going for a much healthier option when really we are not. When it comes to sodium content in foods, it’s important to distinguish between two types of labels. These are “reduced sodium” and “low sodium”. According to FDA regulations, “low sodium” label foods must contain 140mg of sodium or less, whilst “reduced sodium foods” contain 25 per cent less than the original product. A canned soup that could contain up to 1000mg of sodium therefore, would still contain a very high 750mg, about 30 per cent of your daily value.

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      Christopher Young

      Freelance Blogger, Writer and Journalist

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      Last Updated on October 16, 2018

      The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

      The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

      It’s well past midnight and you’ve got to get up in less than six hours. You toss and turn all night. Before you know it, another hour passes by and you start panicking.

      If I don’t get to sleep in the next 30 minutes, I’m going to be exhausted tomorrow!”

      One thing is for sure, you’re not alone. Over 70M+ Americans have stated that they don’t get the proper sleep they need at night.[1] So what could possibly be causing this insomnia epidemic?

      Throughout my entrepreneurial journey of building my language learning company, I have experimented and researched dozens of best sleep practices. Some have flopped but a few have dramatically improved the quality of my life and work.

      In this article, I’ll look into the reason why you’re sleep deprived and how to sleep through the night tonight.

      Why you can’t sleep through the night

      The first step to improving anything is getting to the bottom of the root problem. Different studies have shown the reasons why most people cannot sleep well at night.[2] Here are the main ones that the average person faces:

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      Stress

      If you’ve ever stayed up at night worrying about something, know that it’s a major sleep inhibitor. When you’re feeling stress, your mind and body becomes more activated, making it incredibly difficult to fall asleep. Even when you do manage to sleep, it won’t be deep enough to help you feel rested the next day.

      Exposure to blue light before sleep time

      We’re exposed to harmful blue light on a daily basis through the use of our digital screens. If you’ve never heard of blue light, it’s part of the visible light spectrum that suppresses melatonin, our sleep hormones. Other harmful effects include digital eye strains and macular cellular damage.

      While daytime exposure to blue light is not very harmful, night time exposure tricks our brain into thinking it’s daytime. By keeping your brain alert and suppressing melatonin, your mind is unable to shut down and relax before bedtime.

      Eating close to bedtime

      Eating too late can actually be an issue for many people, especially those who are older than 40. The reason is, eating before laying down increases the chances of Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), in which stomach acid backflows into the esophagus.

      Another reason not to eat too late is sleep quality. Even if you manage to sleep right after eating, it’s likely that you’ll wake up tired. Instead of letting your body rest during sleep, it has to digest the food that was entered before bedtime.

      Rule of thumb: eat 3-4 hours before bedtime.

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      Medical conditions

      In some cases, it could be medical conditions that cause your sleep problems. If you can’t relate yourself to the above reasons or any of these common sleep problem causes, you should visit the doctor.

      The vicious sleep cycle

      The biggest danger to repeating the bad habits mentioned above is the negative cycle that it can take you through. A bad night’s sleep can affect not only your energy but your willpower and decision making skills.

      Here’s an example of a bad sleep pattern:

      You get a bad night’s sleep
      –> You feel tired and stressful throughout the day.
      –> You compensate it with unhealthy habits (for example junk food, skipping exercises, watching Netflix etc.)
      –> You can’t sleep well (again) the next night.

        You can imagine what could happen if this cycle repeats over a longer period of time.

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        How to sleep better (throughout the night)

        To help you break the vicious cycle and stop waking up in the middle of the night, I’ll explain to you a list of actionable steps to solve your trouble staying asleep.

        1. Take control over the last 90 minutes of your night

        What you do (or don’t do) before bedtime have significant impact on the quality of your sleep. Many times, it can be the difference between staying up until 4am and sleeping like a baby.

        Here are a few suggestions:

        • Go from light to dark – Darkness stimulates production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Turn off unused light around the house, and think about investing into warm light that you can use in the bedroom before bedtime.
        • Avoid screens (or wear blue light blocking glasses) – Keep the bedroom a technology-free zone as the light from electronic devices can disturb your sleep. If you need to work, wear blue light blocking glasses (also known as computer glasses) throughout or before you sleep to prevent sleep disruption.
        • Find an activity that helps you to wind down  This could be anything that calms you down, and reduces thinking (especially unnecessary stress). Fir example, listening to soothing/good feel music, taking a hot bath, reading or meditating.
        • Keep any electronics you have on the other side of the room or outside the room – One of the most harmful things that can disrupt your sleep is the notifications you get from your smartphones. The simplest way to avoid this is to keep it away from you.
        • Create a bedtime routine – A night routine is a couple of things you do prior to going to bed. By doing these things every night, you’ll have a more restful and high-quality sleep. Learn how to pick up a night routine here: The Ultimate Night Routine Guide to Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive

        2. Eat the right nutrients (and avoid the wrong ones)

        What you eat (not just when we eat) plays a critical role in your sleep quality. If you’re ever in doubt of what to eat to improve your sleep, take the following into consideration:

        • Kiwi – This green fruit may be the ultimate pre-bed snack. When volunteers ate two kiwis an hour before hitting the hay, they slept almost a full extra hour. Kiwis are full of vitamins C and E, serotonin and folate—all of which may help you snooze.
        • Soy foods – Foods made with soy such as tofu, miso and edamame, are rich in isoflavones. These compounds increase the production of serotonin, a brain chemical that influences the body’s sleep-wake cycle.
        • Fiber-rich foods – Eating more fiber could be key for better sleep. Eating fiber was associated with more restorative slow-wave sleep—the more you eat, the better you sleep—per a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Fiber prevents blood sugar surges that may lower melatonin. Get a fiber boost from beans, artichokes, bran cereal and quinoa.
        • Salmon – Most fish, especially salmon, halibut and tuna boost vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin— a sleep-inducing hormone triggered by darkness.

        3. Adjust your sleep temperature

        Once you’ve gone through the first 2 recommendations, the last step to experiment with is temperature. According to Sleep.org, the ideal temperature for sleep is 60-67 Farenheit. This may be cooler than what most people are used to, but keep in mind that our body temperature changes once we fall asleep.

        Rule of thumb: sleeping in cooler temperature is better for sleep quality than warmer temperature.

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        Find out how to maintain the optimal temperature to sleep better here: How to Sleep Faster with the Best Temperature

        Sleep better form now on

        Congrats on making it to the end of this guide on sleep. If you’re serious about taking the necessary steps in improving your sleep, remember to take it one step at a time.

        I recommend trying just one of the steps mentioned such as taking a hot bath, blocking out blue light at night, or sleeping in cooler temperature. From there, see how it impacts your sleep quality and you can keep doing what works, and throw away what doesn’t.

        As long as you follow these steps cautiously and diligently, I know you’ll see improved results in your sleep!

        Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

        Reference

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