Why Knowing Your Sodium Intake Matters
Have you ever stopped to think about how much sodium you are consuming in a day? It might not seem like an important thing to consider, but minerals, like sodium, are essential for our bodies. (In the appropriate amount, of course!)
How do you get charged up?
Literally speaking – it’s electrolytes that provide the power! Electrolytes are minerals, such as sodium and potassium, that carry an electric charge when mixed with fluids.
Having balanced levels of electrolytes in your body helps regulate things like hydration, muscle contraction, nerve signal transmission and acid-base balance.
This is where sodium comes in – its job is to regulate fluid levels throughout the body. It helps cells absorb water, which helps keep our blood pressure in check and ensures we have enough of the right amount of liquid flowing through us at all times.
So, if you’re looking to stay energized make sure you consume a healthy mix of electrolyte-packed salts!
A Balancing Act
As mentioned, sodium has that extraordinary capacity to create electrically charged ions that can permeate the cell walls of our bodies. It is also responsible for helping to transfer signals between cells.
Tapping into this power means including plentiful amounts of sodium in our diet, while at the same time being mindful of consuming too much.
Too little or too much will affect our blood pressure, so consuming a moderate amount can be helpful in maintaining healthy levels—it’s truly a balancing act!
How Much Sodium?
Health organizations advise healthy people with no existing conditions to keep their daily average consumption at less than 2,300 mg (or one teaspoon of salt) per day.
High levels can lead to high blood pressure, which increases risk of heart attack, stroke, congestive heart failure, kidney disease, and more.
According to the CDC, “more than 90% of Americans aged 2 years or older consume more sodium than recommended.” So, it’s important to be mindful of your daily intake.
In addition to being found naturally in food, many processed foods contain added sodium. Many people don’t realize that the majority of their sodium intake comes from processed foods and NOT from the saltshaker on their table!
Your Kidneys on Sodium
Your kidneys keep things in balance when it comes to sodium – they’re like a finely tuned orchestra of electrolytes!
Without those talented organs, sodium levels in the body could become dangerously high. By regulating the amount excreted through urine, your kidneys ensure that all other organ functions can run smoothly.
Sweat is another instrument in this carefully regulated symphony; taking advantage of its evaporative cooling capabilities helps you actively remove excess salt as your body heats up!
Why Do I Get Salt Cravings?
Have you ever felt the urge to grab a handful of salty chips or something similar?
Some research suggests that our bodies simply need the extra sodium for balanced functioning; when we consume too little, for example during periods of intense sweating and increased urination, our bodies crave salts to replace what has been lost.
On a deeper level, however, some think that these cravings may be instinctive — maybe an ancient reminder of more primitive times when salt was harder to find.
Either way, it sure is interesting to ponder why our bodies sometimes tell us to reach for the saltshaker!
Okay, So How Can I Reduce My Salt Intake?
The first step in reducing your intake is getting familiar with nutrition labels on food items before purchasing them—and checking out the ingredients list!
Be sure to check out how much salt has been added into a product by looking at how much “sodium” there is in a serving size listed on the nutrition label.
You can also opt for low-sodium versions when available or even buy fresh produce instead of canned goods if possible!
Eating more fresh fruits and vegetables will increase your nutrient intake without going overboard—it’s a win-win situation!
Low Sodium Diets
The body depends on a complex cocktail of chemicals and molecules in order to function properly. Out of this pool, sodium plays an especially integral role: without it, nerve and muscle cells wouldn’t be able to transmit messages correctly, and the body’s fluid balance would become severely depleted.
Without enough sodium, even small tasks become difficult, sapping away energy that could be used for more important endeavors. A deficiency is not good either!
On the other hand, if you have been worrying that your low-sodium diet may be leaving you deprived, fret not!
Dietary sodium deficiencies are incredibly rare — so rare, in fact, that if you ever find yourself in such a predicament it will probably be the result of some other underlying health issue. And, even if you frequently dine on dishes much below the recommended daily intake, it’s still nearly impossible for your body to develop a deficiency.
So go ahead and enjoy your low-sodium meals with peace of mind knowing that odds are great you’ll remain free from any nutritional shortfalls.
Sodium plays a vital role in maintaining good health but it’s important not to go overboard.
To reduce your risk for high blood pressure and other conditions associated with too much salt consumption, make sure you know what’s in your food before you eat it. That way you can make informed decisions about what goes into your body each day.
With these tips in mind, we hope you have all the tools necessary to keep track of your intake. After all, it’s always better to be safe than sorry!