How to reduce the amount of salt in the diet of elderly people?
Hypertension is the most common cardiovascular disease among highly developed societies. Doctors recommend that, in addition to traditional blood pressure lowering pharmacological treatment, non-pharmacological treatment based on salt reduction should be used. A low-sodium diet can significantly improve mental health and well-being. But how to convince the elderly to do it?
What does the statistics say about salt?
According to the report prepared by 4P Research Mix, only 14% of Poles declare commitment to a healthy and balanced lifestyle. Interestingly, most of us point to the reduction of preservatives in our daily diet (35%) and artificial dyes (29%). Slightly behind are the products considered fat (28%), leaving far behind the attempt to reduce the daily dose of salt (only 15% of Poles pay attention to it!). We are guided by taste and individual preferences, disregarding the recommendations of dieticians: we eat too little vegetables and fruits, fish and plant products rich in protein, and too much salt, fat and sugars. As a result, we do not provide the body with an adequate dose of vitamins and minerals, whose chronic deficiency adversely affects our health.
Older people are aware that too much salt harms them, but they often think that it is not a problem for them. With age, the organism undergoes revolutionary changes, including a decrease in brain, kidney and liver masses, slower work of the cardiovascular and respiratory systems, as well as weaker intestinal peristalsis, narrowing of blood vessels and thus an increase in blood pressure. With reduced energy demand, the demand for protein, vitamins, minerals, liquids and at the same time the supply of salts, fats and sugars in the diet increases.
- Rock salt is a product of crystallization of sea waters and salt lakes.
- Evaporated salt is purified rock salt devoid of microelements.
- Sea salt - the most nutritionally valuable salt obtained from the waters of seas and oceans, unrefined.
- Himalayan salt - the healthiest and purest salt in the world extracted in Pakistan at the foot of the Himalayas, where centuries ago there was a great ocean.
- Dead Sea Salt - medicinal salt used in skin diseases (psoriasis, atopic dermatitis), rheumatic diseases and sinus problems.
What's the harm of excess salt?
Sodium chloride plays a key role in the regulation of water, acid-base balance of the body, proper maintenance of muscles and nervous system. The World Health Organization recommends the consumption of salt up to 5 grams per day, including all sources of food, i.e. salt in bulk form as well as that contained in cold cuts, bread, semi-finished products and ready-made meals. It turns out, however, that Poles most often exceed this dose as many as three times! How can I reduce the amount of salt in my diet?
Excess salt in the blood leads to problems with blood pressure, atherosclerosis, disturbs the heart muscle, increases the excretion of calcium in urine (which quickly leads to the formation of kidney stones and significant weakening of bones and osteoporosis) and contributes to the occurrence of strokes and increases the risk of gastric cancer. The relationship between blood pressure and sodium chloride (NaCl) consumption was first discovered in 1904 by Ambard and Beaujard. Hypertension leads to coronary artery disease, which contributes to the risk of myocardial infarction. Every year more than 100,000 Poles die from it. The World Health Organisation estimates that reducing salt intake by 50 mmol per day could lead to a 16% reduction in the number of deaths from coronary heart disease.
Low-sodium diet in practice
In the above mentioned studies, which cover dietary preferences of Poles, the biggest dietary errors include skipping breakfast, eating, eating before bed and a diet poor in fruit and vegetables. This also applies to the diet of the elderly, who may have difficulty in reducing salt.
At the beginning it is absolutely necessary to exclude causes of excessive consumption of salt, i.e. to limit eating (including salty snacks such as crackers, crisps and salted fingers) and buying ready meals (so-called broths, soups and sauces of powder, instant dishes). The second step is to learn how to slow down the salting of ready-made dishes, which makes two out of three adult Poles. The next step is a conscious choice of salt-free products, such as cottage cheese.
It may seem that dishes without salt are unpalatable - nothing more wrong! The best salt replacements include chilli, basil, paprika, mint, thyme, oregano and thyme, as well as a distinctive nutmeg, ginger and cardamom. Elderly people's meals should have a dense energy content, be easily digestible and at the same time should have a small volume with a distinct taste and smell. This can be helped by replacing salt with suitable herbs to enhance the taste and colour of the dish.
Please note that the above advice is only a suggestion and cannot replace a visit to a specialist. Remember that in case of health problems it is absolutely necessary to consult a doctor!