Salting My Food: Why Does It Matter?

Salt is composed of two minerals - sodium and chloride. The body cannot manufacture sodium or chloride, so they are called “essential” nutrients because we must obtain them from the food we eat. Other essential nutrients are iron, protein and calcium.

Salt has a number of important jobs in the body including:

People with cystic fibrosis produce the same kind of sweat in their sweat glands as people without CF, but as the sweat moves toward the skin, the sodium is not absorbed back into the blood. Therefore, people with CF lose more water and salt when they sweat.

When people with CF do not consume enough salt and fluid, they may experience:

The exact need for salt for people with CF has not been established, but we know that some recommendations are up to 4000 milligrams (mg) per day for children (about 2 tsp) and 6000 mg per day for teens and adults.

This amount contrasts with the recommendation for typical healthy Americans, which is 2300 mgs per day (about 1 tsp) and even lower for people with high blood pressure and other illnesses.

If you have CF, the best way to get enough salt in your diet is to eat a high-salt diet and liberally salt your food. Look at the nutrition labels on packaged foods to get a better idea of which foods are high in salt.

Here are the salt amounts in foods you might already eat:

Some tips to follow:

Salty food suggestions:

Publication: Other
Issue: Summer 2011

This article was written by by Sally Phillips, MS, RD/LD, CDE, a dietitian at Akron Children's Hospital.

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