A sodium tracker can be a powerful tool for helping you reach your dietary sodium goals. But tracking your sodium can be a huge pain! Here’s the scoop on sodium trackers, from past to present.
Why is a Sodium Tracker Useful?
For many people with elevated blood pressure, lowering dietary sodium intake is advice straight from the doctor’s handbook.
In fact, a low-sodium diet is recommended by nearly every major health institution, including the American Heart Association, the American Association of Diabetes, the National Kidney Foundation, the World Health Organization, Public Health England, Health Canada, and nearly every other national and international organization.
Tracking your sodium intake can make a dramatic impact on your health and wellbeing. And there are several academic studies to back up those claims. Sodium is also a critical electrolyte for maintaining proper hydration.
Using a sodium tracker can help you elucidate dietary behaviors that are otherwise hard to monitor and keep track of. Once the individuals in these studies became aware of how much sodium they were eating, it helped them lower their sodium intake and, along with it, their blood pressure.
What are the Best Ways to Track Sodium?
There’s always the good ole fashioned pen and paper approach (or maybe you prefer the computer spreadsheet approach). Manually tracking your dietary sodium intake by methodically documenting all of the foods and drinks you consume is a free technique that can work to some degree.
But for anyone who has tried, it can become tedious quickly. Don’t feel bad if you fall into this category. Most, in fact, quit using diet-tracking apps quickly after they get started due in large part to the tedium on constant data entry.
Another downfall to this approach is inaccuracy. If you don’t remember everything you ate, it’ll be off. If you don’t record the right foods from a database, it’ll be off. If you don’t record the weights or portion sizes, it’ll be off. If you eat at a friend’s house and have no idea how they cooked the meal, it’ll be off!
However, sodium tracker apps can certainly provide a good education. Learning which foods and food categories provide high and low-sodium options can be a valuable exercise.
A New Kind of Sodium Tracker
The clinical standard used to measure dietary sodium intake is the urine test. The National Academy of Medicine recommends using urine sodium to track sodium intake because studies show roughly 90% of the sodium you consume is excreted in urine.
Your kidneys work hard to make sure your blood sodium levels stay within a narrow, healthy range. If you eat too much, your body works hard to excrete more sodium. Too little? Less excretion.
In this way, urinary sodium tracking does a great job of correlating to your regular dietary intake of sodium.
What about a blood test?
As explained by Nutrition Australia, a blood test is not useful as a sodium tracking method because of the work your kidneys do to regulate blood sodium levels.
The best sodium tracker, is urine testing.