Sodium (salt) has a huge effect on the human body. Know what it does and how it functions is vital to living a healthy life. This article explains the basics about sodium and the human body.
How does sodium effect your body?
Sodium is vital for your body to function correctly. It helps your body maintain the correct balance of fluids in your body, assists transmit nerve impulses, and influences the contraction and relaxation of muscles.
When you consume sodium, your kidneys regulate the amount of sodium that remains in your body, and the amount that is wasted. When you have an abundance of sodium, your kidneys excrete the excess sodium out of your body via your digestive system. When there is a minimal amount of sodium in your body, your kidneys conserve it.
If in some situation you can not remove the excess sodium, then it will begin to collect in your blood, and since sodium attracts water, your blood volume increases. The more blood volume you have, the harder your heart has to work to keep the blood moving which consequently increases the pressure in the arteries.
Some people are more sensitive to sodium then others are. Sensitivity to sodium causes people to retain sodium more easily, leading to excess fluid retention and higher blood pressure. This can be avoided by lowering your sodium intake and getting enough exercise.
How much sodium should I be getting every day?
Generally, for a healthy adult, not exceeding 1,500 or 2,400 milligrams (mg) a day is recommended. Depending on your age and health condition (ex. High blood pressure, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease), you may be more sensitive to sodium. In this case, you should try to stay in the 1,400-500 mg range.
How to avoid getting to much sodium
There are simple steps you can take to reduce your sodium intake.
- Choose fresh food over processed food – The majority of fruits and vegetables are low in sodium, as well as fresh frozen meat. It’s very important that you buy fresh and frozen meat that has not been injected with a sodium containing solution.
- Use spices, herbs, and/or flavorings to enhance your food instead of salt – There are many ways of using healthy ingredients like herbs and spices to snazzy up your food.
- Avoid using too much sodium-laden condiments – Sauces, salad dressings, ketchup, and mustard all contain high levels of sodium. Beware of over using them.
- Salt substitutes – Salt substitutes should be used very carefully. When someone is using salt substitute when cutting down on their sodium intake, it is often ineffective because of carelessness. Salt substitutes contain a mixture of other compounds to mimic the taste of salt without using as much salt as it would normally require. However, often, people carelessly put more salt substitute on their food then they need. This accomplishes the opposite of what they seek.
- Look for low-sodium items – When eating processed foods is unavoidable, do your best to find those with reduced sodium.
- Work out of requiring salt for a satisfying meal – Your desire for salt can be unlearned. As you gradually lower your daily salt increase, your taste buds will adjust and you will not require so much salt. To do this, just gradually decrease how much salt you put on your food plus following the tips already listed in this article. It just takes time, it’s not impossible.