Enjoy Labor Day Weekend, But Watch The Salt!
By Joy Stephenson-Laws, J.D., Founder
Although this Labor Day may be quite different due to COVID-19, there are some things about the holidays that usually don’t change, like the food!
Picnics and barbecues (with social distancing hopefully) will likely still be in full swing, or you may be staying home this Labor Day weekend with plans to eat your favorite summer holiday dishes.
Now, I’m not trying to be the fun police or burst anyone’s bubble. But as joyous as these occasions can be, they are usually not good for our waistlines and health because the food tends to include a lot of processed, fried, sugary and salty items.
These nutrient-void junk foods can also wreak havoc on the immune system by promoting inflammation, and we want our immune systems in the best shape possible to withstand the coronavirus.
You might be thinking: Well, it’s just one holiday. But please hear me out. The truth is there are always holidays, parties and celebrations throughout the year and many opportunities to drink too much alcohol and not eat the healthiest.
Salt (sodium) is a culprit we need to be particularly aware of. Although sodium is an essential nutrient (it is an electrolyte that helps regulate blood pressure and enable muscle and nerve cells to function properly), overall most Americans consume way too much sodium, putting them at a higher risk of developing hypertension and heart disease.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 400,000 deaths each year in the United States are related to high blood pressure. And as you may already know, heart disease is the leading cause of death in both American men and women.
Furthermore, a recent report from the Cleveland Clinic discusses how consuming too much sodium can affect sleep quality.
“Eating a meal that’s high in sodium at dinnertime can contribute to sleep disturbances, in part due to an increase in blood pressure and fluid retention,” said one doctor referenced in the report.
“The result may be restless sleep, frequent awakenings and not feeling rested in the morning.”
And getting sufficient, quality sleep on a regular basis is so crucial to our overall health and wellness. Have you ever noticed that you tend to get sick more easily when you are sleep deprived? Well, that’s because a lack of sleep can weaken the immune system. And as mentioned, we especially want our immune systems in top shape right now.
A lack of sleep has also been connected to diabetes. Being sleep deprived can have an impact on your insulin, which regulates the amount of glucose in the blood), levels. Sleep deprivation may also contribute to weight gain, stress and depression.Yes - too much salt and sleep don't mix!
Foods, like potato chips, BBQ sauces and hot dogs, that tend to pop up this time of year are usually salt bombs.
Be proactive. Watch the salt.
You may have to switch things up a bit and put in a little more work, but staying away from packaged foods is generally a good way to cut the salt.
- Instead of store-bought chips and salsa, go for homemade hummus or guacamole with fresh veggies.
- Substitute store-bought bbq sauces that are usually loaded with sugar and sodium with homemade sauces. Make your own low-salt marinades and use lemon, herbs and spices for great flavor without the added salt.
- Always have a fresh fruit and veggie platter. Fruits and vegetables are nutrient-dense and contain potassium, which helps combat sodium. These whole, natural foods are also water-rich and hydrating.
- Hold the salty cocktails, like margaritas and Bloody Marys. Or I guess you can do them salt-free (in moderation of course!).
Have a great and safe Labor Day Weekend!
Enjoy your healthy life!
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice. Please consult with your doctor or another competent healthcare practitioner to get specific medical advice for your situation.
The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.