A Salty Tale

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Everybody wants to know the answer to the question, “Is salt bad for you?” There’s no doubt about it, salt is a very important part of our diet. Essentially, we cannot live without it and it is a critical part of our biological process.  Furthermore, Mercola Articles states that imbalances can present itself if your levels are too LOW. When levels are too low, it can cause imbalances in your mood, appetite, and increase your risk of heart attacks and bone fractures. But don’t get it twisted, problems can also occur when your sodium levels are too high. For example, low levels can cause dehydration, drowsiness, confusion, and nerve and muscle damage to name a few.  Just like the saying goes, too much or too little of anything can become a problem. SO, lets  take a minute and sort this problem out.

Sodium and the Biological Process:

  • It is a major component of your blood plasma, lymphatic fluid, extracellular fluid, and even amniotic fluid
  • Carrying nutrients into and out of your cells
  • Helping the lining of your blood vessels to regulate blood pressure
  • Helping you regulate propagation of nerve impulses
  • Helping your brain send communication signals to your muscles, so that you can move on demand (sodium-potassium ion exchange)

With that being said, according to the Mayo Clinic, the average American gets 3,400 mg of salt each day in the american diet. This is very concerning, since the recommended dose is 1,500-2,000mg per day, and even that amount is considered high.

The three main sources for Sodium:

  1.  Canned and Prepared Foods
  2.  Foods that naturally contain high levels of sodium
  3.  Cooking and Shaking the salt shaker during meals

This is further put into perspective when we realize that only 1 Tablespoon of Soy Sauce contains about 1,000mg of sodium, and who only uses one tablespoon?!

If your body is getting too much sodium, according to the Mayo Clinic, your Kidneys, which filter out the sodium, may not be able to elimnate it and the sodium will start to build up in your blood. “Because sodium attracts and holds water, your blood volume increases, which makes your heart work harder and increases pressure in your arteries. Such diseases as congestive heart failure, cirrhosis and chronic kidney disease can make it hard for your kidneys to keep sodium levels balanced.”

The Mayo Clinic continues, “some people’s bodies are more sensitive to the effects of sodium than are others. If you’re sodium sensitive, you retain sodium more easily, leading to fluid retention and increased blood pressure. If this becomes chronic, it can lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and congestive heart failure.”

So what can we do to find a balance? I am one of those people who are “sodium sensitive.” I can literally feel my body swelling and retaining water when I eat a high sodium meal. So I came up with the list below to help keep myself in balance, and hopefully your can too!

Six ways to make sure you’re not over doing it with the salt:

  • Drink 1/2 your body weight in water per day
  • Check your food labels- especially condiments
  • Don’t allow salt at the table
  • Use more fresh spices to your food for flavor
  • Choose low-sodium choices
  • Wash your canned vegetables (cuts back on half the sodium)
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