Sodium: The “Silent Killer”

Ok, perhaps saying NO sodium is a bit much. Of course your body needs a healthy dose of sodium  each day to stay alive. And believe it or not, if you don’t get enough sodium in your diet you may come down with a condition called Hyponatremia. This is caused when your sodium level drops below 136 milliequivalent per liter. If you are wondering, if this isn’t a good thing, its not. Your brain relies very heavily on the sodium in your blood to function properly. If this level drops, you might feel lethargic, dizzy, nauseated or even a twitching of the muscles in the arms and legs. In fact, people with hypertension (high blood pressure) need sodium to keep their condition stable.

The sad part is, very few Americans have trouble keeping sodium out of their diet. A recent Mayo Clinic article stated that americans get 77% of their daily salt intake form processed foods (fast food hello!). That is not good folks. 

 

I’m gonna pick on McDonald’s again. I used this example in my portion control article…so why not go there again.

A Double Quarter Pounder meal, with Large Fries and a Large Coke has over 2000 mg of sodium. I said this before about this very same meal. ARE YOU SERIOUS! A healthy adult should NOT exceed over 2,300 mg’s a day! Yet many people are consuming that in ONE meal!

So whats the big deal? Why is it so bad to virtually overdose on sodium every day? Well, I’ll let a professional explain.

From Mayoclinic.com :

Your kidneys naturally balance the amount of sodium stored in your body for optimal health. When your sodium levels are low, your kidneys essentially hold on to the sodium. When sodium levels are high, your kidneys excrete the excess in urine.

But if for some reason your kidneys can’t eliminate enough sodium, the sodium starts to accumulate in your blood. Because sodium attracts and holds water, your blood volume increases. Increased blood volume makes your heart work harder to move more blood through your blood vessels, which 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.

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. The extra sodium can even lead to high blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and congestive heart failure.

So not only does sodium make you retain water (which isn’t good for those looking to lose weight) but it can also lead to heart failure, kidney disease and a ton of other diseases that can kill you…

I guess you could call sodium the “silent killer.” Everything you eat has it. Food taste better with it and most of the time, you don’t even realize you’ve gone over board. But at the end of the day, we don’t need all that much. We are a fat country and it all starts with sodium. This is not a public safety announcement. It’s an epidemic!

So be mindful of how much sodium you take in because it’s definitely not something to take lightly. Shoot for about 1600-2000 mg and you should be fine. I have cut back sodium so much in my diet that I can barely eat foods that I use to love. (mainly the fried ones) And at the end of the day, eating less fried, over-salted foods can only lead to a healthier, more full-filling life.

Be well,

Lyell

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