Sodium and Your Health: Make the right balance

Sodium and Your Health

It is estimated that a person under normal conditions requires less than 1 g of sodium (equivalent to about 2.5 g of salt) per day for proper body function. However, in the Western world, current estimates say that the average consumption is 10 to 15 g of salt (4-6 g of sodium) per day, which is between five and ten times more than necessary.
Unlike in the case of vitamin C, the body does not excrete the salt it does not need, so any excess is absorbed in our body fluids. If excess sodium appears in the blood, in order to reduce its concentration and maintain normal levels, the water is extracted from the cells to dilute it. The more salt, the more liquid the body craves to dilute the excess sodium, that is, it gives us thirst.

This will cause us to have an excess of liquid, up to several liters more, which will put pressure on the vascular system and the heart. This is a common cause of high blood pressure.

Lack of sodium

Although rare, it is as dangerous as excess because it also causes an imbalance in the system. Symptoms include muscle cramps and aches, tiredness, anorexia, vomiting, and mental confusion.
Lack of sodium normally only affects people who sweat a lot, as they excrete it along with their sweat. This may be due to continued exercise, heavy work or because people are living in a climate that they do not adapt to, such as the white skin of northern countries living in the tropics. In either case, you may need to take more salt to replace lost sodium with sweat.

Tips to reduce sodium from your diet

Buy fresh, frozen or canned foods without added salt and vegetables.

Use poultry, fish and lean meat, instead of canned or processed. Use herbs, spices, condiments and salt-free mixes in the kitchen and on the table.

Cook rice, pasta, and unsalted cereal. Reduce consumption of instant rice, pasta and cereal mixes, which usually have added salt.

Reduce consumption of frozen foods, pizza, packaged mixes, canned soups or broths and salad dressings, these often have a lot of sodium. Drain canned foods, such as tuna, to remove some sodium.

Choose cereal for breakfast with low sodium content.

Take stock of salt sources in your diet, such as restaurant meals, salt-based condiments, and easy-to-prepare foods.
If you think your meals are high in sodium, look for balance by adding foods high in potassium, such as fresh fruits and vegetables.

If you need salt during cooking, add the salt at the end, you will need to add much less.

Try your meal before adding salt and just add as much as you really need to make it acceptable. Measure the amount of salt that is normally used for any dish, and then reduce it by 25 percent. Two weeks later, reduce the new amount by another 25 percent, and so on, until you do not use. This will allow your taste buds to gradually adapt to the flavors of less salty foods.

Unless your doctor has told you to reduce salt in your diet completely because of health problems, reduce the amount of salt gradually, in this way, you will hardly notice.