Most people who live with Cystic Fibrosis will know that feeling of wearing long-term exfoliation mask. I am of course referring to the extra salt residue that is left on our skin due to the disfunction of the CFTR. This characteristic of the condition is what has coined the endearing term ‘Salty Girls’ (which was turned into an inspiring photo series and magazine) and is still used as a diagnostic tool.
The excessive salt loss can however cause serious problems, particularly during periods of hot weather and if not addressed cause increased thickening of the mucous in the lungs and bowel blockages amongst other (unpleasant) things.
Prior to starting Orkambi the hot months of summer in my sub-tropical home were quite stressful trying to constantly balance hyradation, salt intake and physical activity. I am very lucky to say that this is no longer the case though I do still have to stay aware – especially during crazy heat waves like we are experiencing right now!
For me salt tablets have never been an option – them make me violently unwell and I get similar results from trying to munch down salt flakes or anything similar. So my salt intake has to come from what I eat and drink. It gets boring resorting to the same old things every day so I like to be able to mix it up.
I have seen a lot of people struggling with salt intake this summer so I complied a list of some of the more unusual ways I get my sodium in over summer!
Please remember low sodium and dehydration can be serious. Always work closely with your medical team to determine the best plan for your health needs over summer and of course, if you feel something isn’t right or have unusual symptoms seek medical advice without delay.
1.Grilled Haloumi with apple
This is the perfect sweet and salty snack. It can be prepared in minutes and jazzed up with things like cinnamon or walnuts. I prefer the haloumi hot but you can also cook it in advance! Remember to always check the labels for sodium content prior to purchasing when doing a little research for this piece I noticed there was a huge difference in the sodium count of different brands!
Sure we all know the jar kind are awesome little salt bombs but how about taking a trip to your local deli and mixing up your selection? Try getting ones stuffed with feta or anchovies for even more of a salty punch. The only difficulty with this can be you won’t always know the sodium count for what you have eaten however most helpful deli’s are able to take a look at the packaging for you to help you take an ‘educated guess’.
3. Fermented and pickled veggies
Olives aren’t the only variety that make a great salty snack – think sauerkraut, pickles, capers and pickled onions! These are right on foodie trend at the moment so the options are almost endless! Generally they are made in brine and soak up a good amount of sodium in the process. Again though, the sodium content will vary greatly so be sure to check the label. If you are willing to get creative in the kitchen you can try making your own like this or these which is super simple and affordable. For a store brought variety I found in terms of the ‘fresh’ small batch kind of stuff Kehoes (183mg) and Power Kraut (233 mg) brands in my local health shop to have the highest sodium count per serve.
4. Cured and preserved meats
I don’t think it’s a secret that a lot of these are filled with rubbish fillers and additives that I for one aren’t so keen to put into my body. Thankfully there are also some great options on the market too! The idea of jerky and dried meat used to gross me out but once I actually tried it I was a bit hooked. This brand from Tasmania is created with grass fed beef and contains no preservatives or MSG. With 570mg of sodium in a serve of their sea salt flavour I call that a win! I have also recently found a few good options at mainstream supermarkets and service stations for those times when I need something on the run.
5. Miso paste
If you haven’t tried this stuff get on it! It can be used as a base for stews and stirfrys or mixed up for a quick soup. Personally I like it with avocado (on toast) – hey don’t knock it until you have given it a whirl!
6. Cottage cheese
Sometimes upping your sodium can be as easy as a simple swap. When the temperature rises I swap my morning yoghurt and berries for Canadian style cottage cheese and berries instead. My favourite brand is this Barrambah one but they don’t add salt so you have to do it yourself (which tastes great) however if there many ready made alternatives available at the supermarket.
If you are anything like me hot weather doesn’t make you feel like eating anything rich and heavy but with a few sneaky tricks you can make your salad or veggies work for you! Salads are super easy to add salt to – think salty dressings, toasted nuts, feta or parmesan cheese, olives, canned tuna and those fermented and pickled goodies we talked about earlier! By adding lots of greens, fats and protein it is easy to hide the salt. When cooked veggies are your pick, try sautéing them in homemade stock (or a stock cube), tamari or salted nut butter!
Of course there are times when I need to up both my sodium and fluid intake as well as other electrolytes, for those times I love these products from Nuun. They have a huge range of flavours and the equivalent or slightly more sodium (around 350mg depending on the flavour) as the pharmacy bought options like Glucolyte. They also come in handy canisters that will happily roll around the bottom of your handbag #winning! If you haven’t placed an order with iherb before head over to my resources page and use the link to see the great savings they offer on supplements, vitamins and whole foods.
Any of your favourite salty snacks I have missed? Comment below and let me know how you like to add in some extra salt in summer!