Salt: The Eye Nemesis and the Healer



Salt can cause a myriad of health concerns when consumed in excess. Unfortunately, the American diet is notorious for its salt content. We love our snacks and junk food: chips, crackers, cured meats, and cheeses. But too much salt can lead to water retention, bloating of the kidneys, and even premature aging. Why, oh why does salty food taste so good? The sodium in salt is to blame for these problems.

The kidneys require a delicate balance of potassium and sodium to successfully remove unwanted fluids. High levels of sodium cause unfiltered fluid and toxins to build up and collect in certain areas of the body. This usually presents itself as swelling, especially at the ankles and under the eyes. Not only unsightly, sodium-triggered swelling is an indication that your body is working harder than it should (Source: Care2).

Everyone will tell you a different remedy for fluid retention and puffiness. Hydration, water pills, and exercise are just a few recommendations. However, it may surprise you that the one mineral that got you into your problem will also get you out. You got it: salt. Salt actually is one of the best ways to reduce puffiness and swelling, but only when applied externally, not internally. The sodium in salt leaches out additional fluid and constricts the blood vessels. Here is a recipe for soothing your swollen eyes:

Compress for Puffy Eyes

  • Mix ½ teaspoon salt into a cup of warm water
  • Dip cotton balls or facial pads into the salt water solution. Lie down and apply to eyelids.
  • Rest in this position for at least ten minutes and keep the pads in place.

A salt compress is only a temporary fix for fluid retention and puffiness. You need to deal with the root of the problem if you have recurrent swelling. Reducing sodium intake is not easy, and it does take self-discipline. Thankfully, there are many foods with low sodium options that offer less salt without sacrificing the taste. Sometimes, foods need more flavor, not more salt. Try seasoning your vegetables with fresh herbs or cracked pepper or adding a marinade to your meat or vegetables instead of reaching for that salt shaker. Mrs. Dash and other salt substitutes can enhance the flavor of vegetables and meats, and you may find that you like them just as much as salt. Change is hard, but lowering sodium intake will become a habit over time. In the meantime, fight salt on the inside with salt on the outside!