Sodium has a lot of conflicting messages. We all know the dangers of a high salt diet and the dangers that a fast-food diet can present, but it’s not all bad. The dangers of consuming too much sodium might be obvious, but there are plenty of risks when it comes to not consuming enough, too. Maintaining a healthy level of sodium can be difficult in the modern age of fast food and high-salt foods, but it’s incredibly important for your health.
Sodium is an essential electrolyte which helps to maintain the balance of water in and surrounding the cells. It’s important for proper nerve function and muscle contraction. Sodium is also important for maintaining healthy blood pressure levels.
There are a number of important benefits that sodium can have on your body and mind. It can help to improve brain function because the brain is very sensitive to changes in sodium levels. Sodium deficiency can cause feelings of confusion and lethargy. Sodium can therefore help to keep the mind sharp and healthy, making it an important part of the brain’s development.
It can also regulate fluid levels, prevent sunstroke, eliminate any excess carbon dioxide that has built up in your body, control glucose absorption, and more.
There are many benefits that sodium can provide for you and your body, and its very important for your body to function normally and healthily. Too much or too little, however, can lead to big problems and unfortunate side effects.
Sodium is required for the body to hold water. Eating too much salt, however, can lead to extra water being stored in your body, raising your blood pressure. A high blood pressure can lead to heart failure, heart disease, strokes, and more. People with high blood pressure are putting great strain on their hearts, arteries, kidneys and more.
Here’s what else too much sodium can do.
Consuming more than the recommended daily amount of salt has been proven to be a high risk factor of cardiovascular disease in adults. High salt intake is also similarly associated with a high risk of stroke.
Processed foods and fast foods are common sources of sodium in people’s diets, and it’s where much of the salt that people consume comes from. Reducing your intake of bacon and sausages, and other foods that are high in salt can reduce the risk of developing stomach cancer.
The kidneys remove waste products from the body, control the production of red blood cells and balance fluid levels in the body. A high level of sodium intake, along with high blood pressure, can be very damaging to your kidneys. It can also reduce your kidneys’ ability to filter out unwanted toxins.
Edema is essentially swelling in various places, especially in the knees or feet. It is caused by the body retaining too much water and becoming bloated, which can be caused by excessive sodium intake. This is because sodium helps the body to store water – too much sodium leads to the body retaining too much water.
Now you may be ready to go sodium free after reading all that, and it’s true too much sodium can be a bad thing, but the body still needs a little to function properly. Like all things, sodium and salt should be enjoyed in moderation. Sodium can be found in some small amount in almost all foods we eat so getting the minimum required sodium into your diet shouldn’t too difficult, but here’s what could happen if you don’t manage it.
Hyponatremia is a dangerous condition caused by extreme loss of sodium, or extremely low levels of sodium. It’s quite an uncommon condition, and it is sometimes contracted by athletes who drink too much water too rapidly during an endurance event. Drinking excessive amounts of water can cause this condition, where the excessive water can dilute the levels of sodium. This isn’t something that you could contract in daily life. You’d have to drink 6 gallons of water in the space of just a few hours.
The symptoms of hyptonatremia range from nausea, vomiting, dizziness and muscle cramp to coma, shock, and even death in extreme cases.
Insulin resistance is where the cells in the body stop responding to signals from the hormone Insulin. Research has shown a link between low-sodium diets and increased Insulin resistance.
Insulin resistance is believed to be a major factor of diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Heart failure is when the heart can’t work well enough to do its job – meaning that it can’t pump enough blood around the body to meet its oxygen and blood needs. Low-sodium diets have been linked to death by heart failure.
Ultimately, it’s important to remember that sodium is an essential part of a healthy and functioning body. Maintaining the right amount is incredibly important and, although it might seem difficult, is actually not too difficult if you don’t over-indulge in processed foods that are high in salt.
Too much sodium can be dangerous, leading to increased risk of heart disease and stroke, but too little can be just as dangerous. Consuming too little sodium can lead to hyponatremia, increased risk of lethal heart failure, and more.
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Dr. Jenny P. Wilkins, NMD, CRA
Dr. Jenny is a Naturopathic Doctor and clinical research associate. She is a successful entrepreneur as the CEO/Proprietor of AgeVital Pharmacies in Sarasota, Florida. She is a charismatic media personality and television producer with regular appearances on ABC, NBC, TBN, CBS, the CW and Lifetime. As a health and wellness expert and educator, Dr. Jenny lectures all around the world at various conferences about the endocannabinoid system and functional integrative healthcare and how natural solutions work to treat a multitude of diseases and illnesses. She authors books for healthcare practitioners and consumers and educates the healthcare community and individuals using her extensive research and findings about the endocannabinoid system.
She is the President and Chairman of The American Academy of the Endocannabinoid System (AAECS) and sits on the Executive Board of Directors for the American Board of Medical Marijuana Physicians (ABMMP). Her expansive credentials include a Board Certification at The American Board of Anti-Aging Health Practitioners – (ABAAHP), a Diplomate of the AAIM College of Nutrition and a Board Certification with the (AAIM) Board of Integrative Medicine. Dr. Jenny is also a member of the American Academy Of Anti-Aging Medicine, serves as a senior business and financial advisor for Nuvusio, Conference Advisory Board Medical Chair of the Florida Medical Cannabis Conference & Exhibition (FMCCE) and the medical director for Biom-Pharmaceuticals and Chief Scientific Officer And Medical Director for M3-Biodynamics and M3-Innovations.