If someone had asked me if I would consider myself as one that eats right and does everything they can to be healthy, I’d say yes. However, the last couple of weeks have taught me otherwise. Leading up to the holiday break, I noticed I could feel my heartbeat a lot more than I normally would before. I didn’t pay much attention to it but after talking to my mom about it, she recommended getting a blood pressure monitor and writing down the results of each reading. Amazon has an array of options and once I got one in the mail, I was surprised by how high some of my readings were. I noticed my heart rate and blood pressure were a lot higher than the recommended numbers. During the holidays, things got worse and after days of eating foods that I’d regularly avoid at home, I was alarmed by how I felt.
This is when I realized I had to do something because while high blood pressure runs in my family, I’m too young to be dealing with these issues. Elevated blood pressure and abnormal heart rate can increase your risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD), such as heart attack or stroke, according to The American Heart Association. So, I took to the internet and did a little digging to see what it was that could be contributing to a high heart rate and blood pressure. Come to find out there are several things that can lead to increased readings and the biggest factor is salt.
While we may have been eating ground turkey over beef and mashed cauliflower over potatoes, the salt and sauces we were adding were diminishing the health benefits of our diet. Soy sauce, worcheshire, prepackaged seasonings and similar items we use to add more flavor to our meals can be high in sodium. As a result, this sodium can impact your blood pressure and heart rate.
Deli meats can also contain a high amount of sodium. While I wasn’t having a sandwich every day, I was turning to them a lot more than before. With the holidays coming up and things at work getting extremely busy before the end of the year, preparing a healthy meal for lunch was getting more difficult than anticipated. Adding bread, cheese and condiments didn’t help and before you realize it, your sandwich is overwhelmingly salty.
So, the reason I am bringing this up is because no matter what age you are or how healthy you think you’re being, it’s important to listen to your body and what it is trying to tell you. Mine was warning me that I was consuming way too much salt and since discovering this, I’ve taken it upon myself to evaluate what I put in my body and figure out what I could do to cut back on sodium. Instead of snacking on veggie chips (chip nonetheless!), I’m making smoothies with frozen fruits and non-fat yogurt. I’ve also indulged in salads for lunch instead of sandwiches and cutting back on sauces I add to my meals. Listening to our bodies is one of the best things we can do because it’s yours and no one else will understand what you’re feeling.