Sodium: Salt of the earth

Sodium or salt is essential for the body to function. It is needed for nerve and muscle function. Nerves use it in conjunction with potassium to create electrical impulses across the nerve membrane. These electrical impulses allow our brain to "talk" with the rest of the body for recognition of pain, touch and signals involuntary and voluntary movement. Movement such as breathing, talking and walking. The same the nerves use sodium and potassium, muscles also use the mechanism to do work. Every muscle cell, every nerve cell uses it and without it our hearts could not beat, our brains could not communicate with our bodies and we could not breathe or move, in essence we would die.

Water and sodium are closely associated with each other, where sodium goes similar amount water follows. So all the body has to do to get rid of excess water is remove a similar portion of sodium. The body has developed specialized pumps in the kidneys for this specific function called sodium pumps. If the body senses too much water in the body it must get rid of it. Too much water means blood pressure is too high and sensitive cells in the kidneys can sense this and turn on the pumps, thereby releasing water and reducing the pressure in the cardiovascular system And we simply just "pee" out the water.

Our bodies depend on the intake of sodium daily in order to preserve our delicate balance. When our salt imbalance is too low, we feel weak, listless, tired or not even be able to move. Too high and we risk the chance of having a stroke or heart attack or even kidney damage from having too much water in our system high blood pressure for instance. So a delicate balance of the perfect amount is essential to proper body function.

The bulk of sodium comes from regular table salt (sodium-chloride). However, it can be hidden in high processed foods as preservatives or flavor enhancers, such as sodium-benzoate or monosodium gluconate. All you have to do is become a sleuth and read the labels. If your government has not added % daily values with the nutrition facts on the label then know this. They list ingredients on the label in order of amount in the food. The first ingredient makes up the most of the food and lower down the label we go the less of the ingredient is in the food. This is another reason to limit the amount of processed foods to eat, we simply do not know how much is in the food, therefore how can we regulate how much salt to eat? People on average need 2400mg of salt per day. Which is approximately 1 teaspoon of salt per day. 1 teaspoon of salt for all your favorite foods or even drinks. We find sodium all over the place. It is not uncommon to get 100% our daily value of salt in one meal or one drink. It's no wonder that in North America we have blood pressure problems given the large intake of processed foods.

Salt has been used for thousands of years to preserve food and enhance flavor. It is really easy to add great flavor to food by just adding salt. By limiting your flavor enhancing to salt, your missing out on the unique flavors of other food flavor enhancers. By being a little creative it can be easy and manageable to reduce salt intake. A low sodium diet is typically around 1700mg per day. Our bodies are great regulators of salt, it is designed that way from sweat to "pee". Although, some people with high blood pressure have higher than normal salt intake it is not the full picture but it is a great place to start on your journey on a heart healthy diet.

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