Consuming excessive amounts of sodium not only affects your health but also may affect your appearance. A diet that's rich in sodium has long been linked to a host of health problems, including high blood pressure, stroke, kidney disease, and stomach cancer. But consuming too much sodium also leads to increased water retention, which can cause weight gain and make men and women appear puffy and bloated. According to the American Heart Association, the recommended daily sodium intake is 1,500 milligrams. But the AHA notes that the average American consumes more than double that amount on a daily basis, and Health Canada asserts that Canadians also eat roughly the same amount of sodium each day as their American counterparts. While sodium is an essential nutrient, the human body does not need a lot of it to reap its benefits. Bread, processed meats and soups are some of the major contributors of dietary sodium, so men, women and even children, who the AHA notes are far more likely to develop high blood pressure as adults if they consume a high-sodium diet as a child, should study packaging on these items to ensure they aren't overloaded with sodium.