Low Salt Diets: More Education Needed

A delightful new patient was seen in the office today with the diagnosis of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease that unfortunately had progressed to cirrhosis.  She was accompanied by her sister. They we both obese, on the borderline of morbid obesity. The cornerstone of treatment is to get her weight under control, and I estimated that she would have to lose approximately 75 pounds to get anywhere near a reasonable, safe body weight.  We discussed several strategies, but the one point that stood out is that she was consuming massive amounts of dietary sodium (salt). Here diet was a parade of processed, nutrient stripped foods, loaded with enough salt for a week. These were the foods she regularly consumed:

Sodium per serving

Frozen dinners:   800 mg
Commercial vegetable juice:    650 mg
Canned corn: 610 mg
Packaged deli meats:     605 mg
Canned soups:    1025 mg
Chinese food:    3500 mg

Adding it all up, she was consuming well over 7,000 mg of sodium daily. Remember, patients with cirrhosis should shoot for 1800-2000 mg/day. On physical examination, she had well over 30 pounds of fluid hanging on her body.

The lesson once again is to be aware of the foods that are high in sodium.  You must read labels on the food you consume. The public needs to be re-educated on low salt diets. Parents with children equally need to be aware of this fact. It is impossible to maintain a low salt diet if you eat out on a regular basis. If for health reasons (heart failure, liver disease, kidney disease) you must be on a low salt diet, eating out has to be a thing of the past. It will save you money, and the the grief of being scolded by your physician.

Remember: CUT THE SALT!

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