COMFORT IS BEAUTY

8 Ideas to Share the Holiday Spirit

Happy christmas couple over blue winter background.

We hope you are already enjoying your holiday season.  If you or others around you are not yet in the holiday spirit, we’re here to help whip you into holiday shape.

The holidays aren’t just about presents and delicious foods.  They are about togetherness, cheer and warm wishes.  No matter what our circumstances may be, we can all participate in celebrating our holidays, families, year end and the many wonderful things in our lives.  That is truly the essence of the holiday spirit.  And while you’re feeling full of cheer, we hope you’ll make it your mission to share the holiday spirit this year.  We have 8 ideas to help you do it:

Holiday Scents:  For days leading up to the holidays, fill your home with fragrant holiday scents like ginger, peppermint, cinnamon and vanilla.  You can do this through scented candles, air fresheners or starting your holiday baking early.  The magnificent smells of the holiday season will put everyone in a festive mood.

Decorate your Home:  It’s hard to resist the holiday spirit when your home is decked out in holiday gear.  Decorating can be especially fun for kids, but even if you don’t have any, put up decorations so your visual surroundings will stimulate holiday happiness.

Twinkle your Neighbors:  Similar to “booing” on Halloween or “egging” on Easter, twinkling over the winter holiday season means you leave an anonymous surprise at someone’s door or in their yard.  It may be several small items or one basket of goodies.  It will warm your neighbors to know you are thinking of them during the holidays.

Shop in a Good Mood:  For some, holiday shopping is such a chore.  Do your best not to be a grump or a scrooge when you do your holiday shopping.  Pick a day when you’re in a good mood – perhaps take a vacation day so you’re not distracted by work – and indulge in a great cup of coffee or breakfast treat to get your day started.  Keep a smile on your face as you do your shopping, even if you have to stand in long lines.  It will be contagious.

Invite People into your Kitchen:  Often we greet our guest, grab them a drink and retreat into the kitchen to finish last minute details while the rest of your family entertains.  They are all enjoying themselves and you’re slaving away in the kitchen, or so it seems.  This year, don’t banish people from helping in your kitchen.  Rather, let the kitchen be the gathering spot.  Allow your guests to pull up an apron and stir, garnish or taste something as you finish the festive meal preparations.

Break the Ice:  Whether you celebrate with close family or invite extended relatives, friends and neighbors, help everyone have more meaningful conversations with an ice breaker.  Yeh, sounds a little cheesy but it can be fun and productive.  An example:  ask everyone to bring one item that represents how they are feeling this holiday season or about the year that is almost over.  Give everyone a moment to talk about their item.  We guarantee it will spark deeper conversation and a sense of unity throughout the holiday.

Start One New Holiday Tradition:  Traditions are a special way to get your family in the holiday spirit year after year.  If you feel your holiday is lackluster this year, start a new family tradition.  For instance, maybe one gift to and from each family member must be homemade.  Or give a gag gift to lighten up your holiday scene.

Watch your Favorite Holiday Movies:  There’s nothing that can turn a holiday frown upside down like a holiday movie.  Keep a few of them playing on background during the holiday season.  You’ll surely soak up the holiday spirit in no time.

Happy Holidays!  We wish you much holiday spirit this season!

Why You Should Take Power Naps

Sleep is vital to our lives to rest our bodies and achieve rejuvenation.  But sleep deprivation is becoming more and more common in our modern 24/7 lifestyles.  Most mammals have multiple periods of sleep and wakefulness during their days, but humans are an exception.  We typically sleep at night and are awake during the day, for better or for worse.  Many experts believe that power naps are a significant way to curb fatigue, boost energy and improve alertness.  We’re exploring the benefits of power naps here.

Power naps are typically defined as 10-30 minutes of sleep in the early afternoon.  If you try to take a nap before 1 p.m., your body will probably not be tired enough for sleep.  If you sleep past 4 p.m., it may interrupt your nighttime sleep.  Therefore, a power nap Peaceful portrait of woman sleeping on pillowbetween 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. is best.  Studies indicate that even this short burst of sleep can greatly improve alertness and performance.  Power naps can help you most directly after the nap period and may prolong concentration for several hours later than usual.  Additionally, napping has proved to be excellent for the cardiovascular system, to reduce stress and aid in weight loss.

Sleep expert Sara C. Mednick, PhD wrote a book entitled Take a Nap! Change your Life in which she outlines the benefits of different lengths of sleep.  The 20-minute power nap, known as stage 2 sleep, is great for alertness and increased motor skills.  Naps ranging from 30 to 60 minutes offers slow-wave sleep that improves memory and helps with decision-making skills.  Even longer naps of up to 90 minutes allows R.E.M. (rapid eye movement) sleep that is associated with creative problem solving and greater brain connections.

For those who are truly sleep deprived, longer daytime naps may be in order to “catch up” on sleep.  However, shorter power naps of less than 40 minutes are refreshing without leaving the body feeling groggy from being ripped out of sleep.  Plus, most adults in the U.S. don’t have the luxury of napping for longer than 30 minutes per day.  Other cultures put a greater value on naps and schedule time for them during their workdays.  Some businesses like Google and Huffington Post offer sleep pods in their offices to help their employees catch some zzz’s during their day.  The theory is that they will be more productive and perform better if they are better rested.  Still, this is a rarity in most places of business.

So what’s an average gal to do to get in a power nap?  Well, it isn’t always easy.  Finding time for power naps may take planning.  Scheduled naps are often better than emergency naps because they help you sleep before you are overly exhausted.  If you are home with kids who nap, take a power nap while they are sleeping.  Even if you spend 30 minutes napping, chances are you’ll have leftover time to get other things done, and you’ll be even more productive at them to boot.  If you work a regular daytime job, make time for naps on the weekend to recharge your body and get ready for the week to come.

Of course, naps should not be a reason you stay up later.  Nighttime sleep is still very important.  Also, your sleep environment should be one without too much stimulation such as that from televisions, electronics and bright lights, and should be set a comfortable temperature.

Enjoy your power naps when you can!  Sweet dreams!

The Risk of Hairband Infections

If you’re like most women you’ve found yourself putting your hairband around your wrist for the convenience of having one ready at all times. We’ve all done it! Hair ties are a pain, and it always seems just after buying a fresh ring, you come find a month later they are all missing. Unfortunately, we do not know the location of your missing hair ties, and although you might think saving your last band around your wrist is a good idea, it’s actually a health hazard. In fact, there are many health risks of wearing a hairband around your wrist for long periods of time. You can cut off blood flow and circulation, and your hairband can even cause abrasions which have the possibility to turn into harmful infections.

There have been many cases surrounding infections caused my hairbands, the most recent happened to a resident of Kentucky, Audree Kopp. After several hours of unpacking and moving in her things into a new place, Kopp noticed she had a bump on her arm that kept getting bigger and more painful. After taking antibiotics and still not seeing results, she decided to go to the emergency room. The doctors told her she has an infection and discovered three strains of bacteria. They told Kopp her sparkly hairband was the culprit, and it had caused tiny cuts in her skin where bacteria had entered her body and caused the infection to build and her arm to swell. Later doctors told her the infection could have been a lot worse if left untreated, and she could have developed far worse conditions such as blood poisoning or even death.

Experts suggest not wearing anything tight around your wrist because even accessories such as watches or bracelets can cause abrasions that can lead to infections. If you are to wear a hairband around your wrist never leave it on for too long, avoid sparkly bands that can scratch or cut your skin, and always clean your wrists when you wash your hands. To prevent any hairband infections, it’s suggested to not wear one at all around your wrist.

 

 

9 Reasons Why You Should Eat Peanut Butter

Many of us know peanut butter is a great source of protein and it helps suppress your appetite giving you the sensation of feeling fuller longer, but did you know it loaded with healthy fats, antioxidants, and lowers your risk heart disease and stroke? Read these 9 reasons why you should eat peanut butter:

  1. Weight Loss: When you eat peanut butter it can actually suppress your hunger and help you maintain a healthy weight, or even loss weight. This is because of the protein and fiber in peanut butter. It keeps you satisfied and fuller longer.
  2. Good Protein: Peanut butter contains 7 grams of protein in just two tablespoons. Protein is great for the body because it helps build and repair muscles tissue.
  3. Loaded with Nutrients: Peanut butter is loaded with nutrients and antioxidants such as fiber, potassium, magnesium, and Vitamin E. As you learned above, these nutrients are great for your body and can give you many health benefits.
  4. Healthy Fats: There is a healthy balance of saturated and unsaturated fats in peanut butter. By eating peanut butter you can lower the cholesterol in your blood stream and prevent disease. Be careful when you buy commercial peanut butter such as Jiff and Skippy because they will contain more saturated fats and sugars which can be bad for your body. If you want to keep to a healthier diet try all natural or organic peanut butter.
  5. Heart Healthy: Because of all the nutrients and healthy fats in peanut butter it is easy on your heart! While being high in proteins and fiber, peanut butter lowers the risk of high blood pressure and your risk of cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, stroke, and health problems later in life.
  6. Helps Fight against Diseases: With all the nutritional benefits peanut butter has to offer, there is no wonder why it’s the perfect ingredient to fight against diseases. Besides being great for your heart, peanut butter helps protect your body from Alzheimer’s disease and memory loss. This is because peanut butter contains niacin, which is a source of Vitamin B and helps repair DNA and fuel the body with energy.
  7. Reduces Risks of Stroke: This treat isn’t just tasty, but protects your body from a number of health problems. Peanut butter is loaded with potassium which we have learned above will lower your risk of a stroke. Studies show that eating more foods high in potassium can lessen your risk of heart disease and stroke.
  8. Great Source of Calories: Peanuts are a perfect source of carbs and easy calories. Whether you’re looking to lose weight or build muscle, you can do this with peanut butter! Peanut butter is a cheap and easy way to eat 200 calories or less in one meal or snack.
  9. Easy to Prepare: Peanut butter is super easy to prepare. Whether you’re making peanut butter toast, peanut butter protein bars, or apples and peanut butter, it’s simple and all you need to do is scoop your amount right out of the jar! Who would have thought a snack could be this easy to make?

 

Full Figure Fashion: Winter Trends for 2015/2016

It’s time for our latest full figure fashion report.  We’re taking a look at winter trends for 2015/2016.  It’s a great season for flowy yet functional looks that will keep you cozy and chic during the winter months.  Sporty, bold and tailored looks are also in style, while flirty hues, sassy footwear and silhouettes keep things sexy and feminine.

Here’s a glance at the full figure fashion trends for winter 2015/2016:

Young attractive woman wearing a sweater with faux fur hood.Shaggy Chic in Sweaters and Faux Fur

The draped oversized sweater continues to make a splash this winter.  Trends include shaggy, wooly and faux fur styles in a variety of neutral colors.  This trend also works in turtlenecks, which are highly popular this season.  Keep underneath layers simple like a fitted long sleeve tee or oxford shirt and pair your comfy, cozy sweater with a pant on the tighter side to show off your curves.  Women with broader shoulders may want to draw in their silhouette with belts or ties to appear less boxy.

Leather Pants and Skinny Jeans

You can’t go wrong with leather pants this season.  With legging, pant or jean-style black leather pant options, find the fit that works best for your figure.  Feel free to play with the traditional leather pant with a slimming vertical stripe down the outer leg.  Skinny jeans also rock this winter but make sure you stay comfortable in the jean you select.  Rider boats or chunky heels look great with both of these slimming pant choices.

A-Line Skirts and Dresses

A-lines are uber flattering on many body types and are easy to achieve in short skirts, knee-length skirts, high-waisted skirts, empire waist dresses, wrap dresses and other fitted dress styles.  If you go with a skirt, wear a fitted blouse that will keep the line clean and hug your best assets.  You can even find A-line winter coats that work beautifully with every outfit in your wardrobe.

Superhero Capes and Dresses

It’s a bird…it’s a plane…no, it’s a fashionista!  Capes are super popular for winter 2015/2016.  They make terrific coat-style wraps to cover any outfit or can be a statement top.  If you really want to stand out at your holiday parties this year, look for floor-length caped dress.  No longer a costumed look, capes are super fashionable and flattering this season.

Camel and Pastel Hues

Camel-colored sweaters, wraps and coats are the perfect versatile neutral to go with everything in your wardrobe, from prints, bright colors or other neutrals including black, white, grey, brown and navy.  Camel bags also make it easy to transition from outfit-to-outfit without needing to change your purse.  Pastels are on trend this season too.  These muted colors are feminine and sweet for dresses, coats and sweaters.

Tailored Sporty Ensembles

Staying comfortable has never been so simple as this winter. Sporty looks are not just for heading to the gym, but also make chic, everyday ensembles.  Pair jeans or athletic pants with fitted sweatshirts or sporty denim and leather jackets.  And a great pair of trendy sneakers (not necessarily for actual athletics) will complete this popular look.

Heels, Gloves and Scarves

Heeled boots and stilettos are in style this winter with every look in your repertoire.  For warmth and fashion, invest in a nice pair of fitted leather gloves that don’t inhibit your fingers.  Yes, that means you should still be able to type texts while wearing them.  And if you’re feeling ho-hum about your outfit, add a bright or interesting scarf.

As always, be sure your full figure bras meet the needs of your winter wardrobe.  Have a blast putting together these full figure fashion trends this season!!

10 Ways to Use Thanksgiving Leftovers

After the Thanksgiving meal is complete and everyone is stuffed to the brim, you may look around your table and wonder what on earth you are going to do with all the leftovers.  Never fear, we have 10 ways to use Thanksgiving leftovers to re-create your Thanksgiving experience in new and exciting meals.

Sweet Potato & Turkey Soup:  Using the bones of your bird to make stock, you can create just about any type of soup from your leftovers.  One great idea for a day-after Thanksgiving soup is to puree your sweet potatoes and mix them with turkey stock and other leftover vegetables for a creamy, sweet and savory soup.

Turkey Nuggets:  Kids will delight in eating turkey nuggets for a few days after Thanksgiving.  Chunk some leftover turkey and coat it with an egg batter.  Then roll it in bread crumbs and bake to make a delicious nugget your kids can’t resist.

Turkey Pot Pie w/Mashed Potato Topping:  This amalgamation can include tons of your Thanksgiving leftovers in one simple dish.  Using a creamy soup base, combine bits of turkey, veggies and even stuffing.  Top with a thick layer of mashed potatoes.  This reheats nicely and keeps for several days after Thanksgiving.

Smoothies:  Ok, a turkey smoothie may not sound appealing, but use leftover vegetables to enhance the nutrients of your morning smoothie.  Combine peas, green beans or carrots with fresh fruit, yogurt and milk for a scrumptiously nutritious smoothie.

Cranberry Muffins:  Using your favorite muffin recipe (or even a box mix), add cranberry sauce to the mixture to give your muffins a sweet and tangy twist.

Turkey Anything:  Turkey may not be your “go to” meat at other times of the year, but it is terrific for just about anything you would otherwise use chicken or beef to create.  How does a turkey bolognaise spaghetti sauce sound?  Or maybe turkey marsala, turkey parmesan, bbq turkey or turkey tacos?  For the next week, any time you were planning to use a different meat, pull out the leftover turkey and save yourself a step.

Potato Pancakes:  Leftover potatoes can be used to make a savory potato pancakes.  Form potatoes into a patty and then pan sear them in olive oil or another natural healthy oil.  These are wonderful for any meal or snacks.

Thanksgiving Omelets:  Many Thanksgiving leftovers can be added to omelets for a reminiscent morning-after meal.  Try fun combinations of flavors and add cheese to make a tasty and healthy protein breakfast.

Thanksgiving Kabobs:  Kids will especially like eating Thanksgiving leftovers on a stick.  Using toothpicks, string together one bite of turkey, a carrot, a green bean, a ball of potatoes and a small piece of cornbread.  Serve over a scoop of stuffing to incorporate all your Thanksgiving flavors in a fun and creative way.

Thanksgiving Sandwiches:  When all else fails and you still have Thanksgiving leftovers, sandwiches are a great way to clean out the fridge.  You can make sliders using extra rolls, roll up leftovers in a wrap or make a traditional sandwich on two slices of bread.  Be sure to include all the usuals like turkey, stuffing, potatoes, veggies, and cranberry sauce for a last bite of the Thanksgiving meal.

Are You Eating Too Much Sugar?

With the holidays coming up you may be indulging in those sugary snacks and deserts a little more than usual. While it’s okay to keep our sanity and spoil ourselves every once in a while, it’s important to ask yourself, “Are you eating too much sugar?” Keeping track of your daily nutrients and staying away from consuming too much sugar is a significant thing to do in order to maintain a long and healthy life.

Sugar can cause many problems for your body including cavities, uncontrollable hunger, weight gain, insulin resistance, diabetes, obesity, liver failure, pancreatic cancer, high blood pressure, kidney and heart disease, nutritional deficiencies, and gout. Two major effects are obesity and diabetes, which has only been affecting more and more individuals as the years move forward.

The World Health Organization suggests giving no more than 5-10% of your daily calories to sugar. This is about 25 grams or six teaspoons of sugar to be precise. To put this in perspective, a can of pop usually contains 39 grams of sugar and a Starbucks Nonfat Pumpkin Spice Latte with no whip cream contains 49 grams. If you are drinking two to three soft drinks a day, along with other sugary foods, you are consuming too much sugar.

There are three different types of sugar: glucose, fructose, and sucrose. Glucose is a simple sugar that gives the body a good source of energy. You can find glucose in carbohydrates, such as bread, rice, pasta, and potatoes. Glucose is both helpful and harmful to the body because while it is used to give our bodies energy it can also be a danger if too much is consumed and your blood sugar levels fluctuate. Fructose is found in fruits and is actually sweeter than the other sugars, which is why it’s used in snacks, candy, and soft drinks. High-fructose corn syrup can be very dangerous to your health and cause cardiovascular disease. It’s important to keep fructose at a minimum, and even while fruits may seem healthy, you should still only eat them in moderation and keep to your daily intake of two to three servings. Sucrose is a combination of glucose and fructose which are your table sugars and sweeteners.

All of these sugars are metabolized differently in the body. For instance, the easiest sugar to metabolize is glucose, which is done in the blood stream and used for energy. When your body needs more energy it will use fructose, but only a small amount because it is absorbed in the liver. The rest of the fructose will be metabolized to fat synthesis. Sucrose is a combination of both and will be digested as necessary. An over consumption of all three can lead to a number of problems.

While our body metabolizes sugars differently, it’s important to keep our indulging to a minimum. If you’ve been dieting or you’re trying to lose weight and haven’t seen any results, it could be your sugar consumption. Sugar can do a lot to the body, and you may find it strange that sugar can cause addition, but it can. Many people who eat a lot of sugary foods have a hard time saying no when a desert or sugary snake is placed in front of them. Try your best to keep your sugar snacking to a minimum and always check to see which foods are high in fructose and sucrose. Remember it’s okay to eat sugar, but only in moderation. An overabundance of sugar in your diet can cause serious long-term effects on your body that can lead to disease and even death.

 

Unconventional Ways to Give Thanks this Thanksgiving

This season of giving thanks offers many possibilities for gratitude and giving back.  And get this:  as you are helping others, you are also helping yourself.  Studies show that actively participating in giving thanks is a great way to boost your physical health and emotional wellbeing.  While employing traditional ways of giving thanks is a wonderful way to celebrate Thanksgiving, we’re thinking outside the box this year and sharing unconventional ways to give thanks this Thanksgiving.

Honor Unsung Heroes:  Heroes in your community deserve praise. But the same popular heroes often get all the accolades, while others don’t get any attention at all.  Take some time to think about the people who make a difference in your day.  Perhaps it is the crossing guard at your children’s school that ensures your kids safely cross the street every day.  Maybe it is your mail carrier that brings your mail directly to your door when you receive large packages.  Or it could be the bagger at your supermarket who always does his job with a cheery smile and offers to help you take your groceries to your car.  Take the time to call these people out and thank them for their contributions to your community and your life personally.

Buy Goods from Local Small Businesses:  Buying locally keeps financial and intellectual resources and services thriving in your community.  Yes, sometimes local vendors charge a little more because they are not mass producing and selling goods, but those few extra dollars make the difference between their success and failure.  Holding fast to a sense of community by supporting local businesses is a true way to show your gratitude for those who work hard to keep your community prosperous.

Show the Face of Thankfulness to the Troops:  Sending letters or care packages to the troops is a terrific way to express thankfulness for those who help maintain our freedom.  But take it a step further this year and put a face behind the thankfulness.  Take pictures of your family, friends and others in your community holding up signs of thanks and include them in your mailings to the troops.  Seeing the faces of those they are protecting and having a visual of their gratefulness goes a long way in showing appreciation.  This year, go beyond the letter writing campaign and include a photography campaign as well.

Anonymously Praise Others to their Superiors:  During the season of thanksgiving, spread anonymous praise.  When your server at a restaurant or a customer service representative go above and beyond their job to make your experience great, tell a manager or write a note of praise to their corporate office.  All too often we are quick to complain, but during this season, be faster to praise others.  Even without knowing who you are, you will instill pride, accomplishment and happiness in someone who brought something good to your life.

Perform Spontaneous Acts of Thankfulness:  Be a superhero and swoop in with spontaneous good deeds for others.  Pay for the coffee of someone behind you in line at the coffee shop.  Rake your neighbor’s leaves when you’re doing your own yard anyways.  Buy dessert (or a glass of wine) for a mother you see struggling with her kids at a restaurant.  Every time you buy a small toy for your kids, buy a second to donate.  These little moments that require little effort on your part will mean so much to someone else.  And the best part is that once you share thankfulness and acts of gratitude, others will be included to pay it forward.

Adopt or Foster a Rescue Pet:  Fostering or adopting pets are a great way to contribute to your community.  Rather than purchasing a pet from a pet store, check with your local animal shelters to see what their needs may be.  Adoption is a great option if your family is looking to take in a pet.  Otherwise, try fostering a newly rescued pet that need extra love and care as it is nursed back to health.  Also, volunteering at a shelter or collecting supplies to take care of the animals is a terrific way to contribute.

Write a Letter and Mail It:  For friends and family, write personal letters and mail them.  In the age of emails, texts and social media, it is rare to get a heartfelt letter from those you love.  Let others know how thankful you are for them by writing it down and sending them a letter of gratitude.  Not only will your words mean so much, the method of delivery will make you message stick with them much longer.

Invite an Unexpected Guest to your Thanksgiving Meal:  Joyous times are meant to be shared.  We usually share major holidays with our closest family and friends.  This year, consider inviting someone who isn’t able to be with their nearest and dearest.  Perhaps it’s a college student or co-worker who can’t make it home for Thanksgiving, or your widowed neighbor who would otherwise be alone.  Spread your family’s holiday festivities to those who could use a dose of togetherness this holiday season.

We wish you a warm and happy Thanksgiving!

Decorating the Table for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is almost here which means it’s time to start planning if you haven’t begun already! Decorating the table for Thanksgiving is a fun and creative way to express yourself this holiday. If you’re having family and friends over this year, checkout these trending themes and give your guests something else to talk about than their most favorite foods:

 

Decorating with Fruits and Vegetables: Decorating with fruit is a fun and wonderful way to add some color and excitement to your dinner table this year. You can either use real or fake fruit for your decorations, and this can be a number of things including pears, pumpkins, squash, grapes, or berries. You options are endless! If you are planning to decorate with fruit try to find a table cloth color to go with the theme of colors you choose. Another tip is to not go overboard with decorations because you will be adding a lot of food plates to your table and you don’t want it to seem too busy and have your guests not knowing which food item to put on their plate!

Fall Colors: The first day of winter isn’t until December 22nd, and until then Fall is here to stay! This Thanksgiving try using the beautiful colors of Autumn to give you a little inspiration. You can try a colored table cloth that is either plain or one with patterns and designs. You can use colorful place mats, silverwares, dishware, and so on. Be creative! The top Fall colors are reds, purples, greens, oranges, and browns.

Let Your Food Be the Spotlight: Creating beautiful and delicious food can be a great way to decorate your table. Normally, we tend to eat a lot of orange and white foods such as turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and pumpkin pies during Thanksgiving. While you might want to keep your traditional recipes, try something a little new to bring a little more color to your table. You can try different garnishes to top the foods with like large petals of basil, rosemary, or bay leaves. You can even use different fruits such as cranberries, blueberries, and other berries. If you’re really in the mood for some cooking you can change up the pies this year and add a colorful fruit cobbler or fruit salad.

Decorating with Nature: Thanksgiving falls right in between Autumn and Winter, which means there are big changes going on outside. The trees are losing their last leaves and every so often snow will fall. This Thanksgiving use nature as your decorations. You can make beautiful center pieces with leaves, branches, and other plants from either outside or at your local craft store. The nature theme will bring an organic and beautiful sensation to your dinner table!

 

Signs you are Eating Too Much Salt

saltLimiting salt intake is one of the basic dietary principles we’ve all heard for years.  Salt is, of course, an essential part of the human diet, but within reason.  Excess salt has negative side effects that can impact a person’s health and lifestyle greatly.  Today we’re exploring signs you are eating too much salt and how to reduce salt in your diet.

Benefits of Salt

First, the good news about salt.  In moderation, salt contains vital components necessary for normal bodily functions.  Salt is a mineral made of mostly sodium but also contains iodine and chloride.  It is a crucial electrolyte that maintains proper water retention in the body.  Salt is also responsible for muscle contractions and the enzymes and secretions vital for digestion and the breakdown of food for nutrients, absorption and energy.  A balance of dietary sodium helps ensure the body retains enough water, especially for adequate blood flow.  Without it, bodies can easily become dehydrated and not operate at their maximum capacity.

Affects of Too Much Salt

On the other hand, too much salt wreaks havoc on the body.  Specifically, excessive salt is extremely dangerous for the heart, brain and bones.  Too much salt leads to fluid retention and may cause high blood pressure, heart disease, heart attack, stroke or other heart related conditions.   Salt is known to impair cognitive function over time and may even contribute to brain degenerative diseases.  The mineral is also responsible for calcium loss and therefore thinning bones associated with osteoporosis.  The kidneys, skin and digestive system all suffer from an overdose of salt as well.  The recommended daily intake of salt is just 6 grams, but most people consume well above this amount.

Are you Eating Too Much Salt?

The modern American diet is laden with salt, often in hidden places.  Many processed foods use salt as a preservative and flavor booster, but it’s certainly a health reducer.  Many fast food and restaurant foods contain excessive salt too.  Signs of eating too much salt include bloating, swelling, dehydration, thirstiness, and other conditions such as hypernatremia, which is when kidneys cannot handle excessive salt and dehydration.  If you notice any of these symptoms or are experiencing heart problems or lack of focus, you may want to speak to your physician about having your blood tested for too much salt intake.

How to Combat Too Much Salt Intake

Luckily, by making a conscious effort to reduce your salt intake, you can greatly improve your health as it is related to the negative side effects of salt.  First, limit processed foods and fast food.  When possible, read labels or research the sodium content of your favorite restaurant foods.  Seeing the numbers may help you make better choices.  In the grocery store, look for “low sodium” versions of your favorite foods and select fresh fruits, vegetables and meats rather than pre-packaged versions.  When cooking, use light salt and reduce the amount of salt called for in recipes.  Chances are you won’t even notice the difference.  Be aware of adding table salt to your foods.  If you crave salt for flavor, try different natural spices instead as these may offer great flavor alternatives.

Salt is an important part of our diet but, like most things in life, it’s all about balance.  Too much salt can negatively impact your health.  Make smart salt choices by first being aware of your salt intake and then taking small steps to reduce salt in your diet.

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