This week I will be focusing on salt intake. Watch this short video and read more below.
Sodium is intimately involved in signal travel through nerves and plays a key role in the nutrient regulatory system. However, too much sodium in the blood can interfere with cellular functions and also cause calcium ions to be pulled from the bone causing osteoporosis. The critical importance of sodium in biological activities is evident by the fact that a cell ordinarily spends at least 30-35% of the cell’s energy supply in order to preserve the intracellular sodium balance. But, the cell has no control over the sodium concentration outside its walls and some cells pay dearly when this happens.
The brain responds quickly to rebalance sodium concentration, first by creating the sensation of thirst and also by regulating water release through the kidneys. If this is not adequate, water can be drawn from cells, manifested as a decrease in cell volume. This is similar to pickling cucumbers or salt-curing meat when the affected cells show shrinking known as crenation. However, even a 2% dehydration could affect the efficiency of cell functions. But, too much water retained could increase the blood volume causing high blood pressure.
A cell constructs up to 2000 proteins per second. To accomplish this, enzymes have to move smaller molecules from one location to another. For this to happen efficiently, enzymes have to temporarily attach themselves to the smaller molecule, move it to the area of construction and detach from it. This type of temporary attachment is made possible by the ionic charge of hydrogen atoms that are part of water molecules. This means that for the proper functioning of cellular mechanisms, the water content inside the cell has to be optimum. As you can see, without this kind of precise biological activity cells won’t be able to produce proteins not only needed for internal functions but also for secreting to the outside as antibodies, hormones, and digestive enzymes, to name a few.
Healthy adults require 1,200 to 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day, depending on age. The recommended upper daily limit for sodium consumption is 2,300 milligrams. Americans consume an average of more than 3,400 milligrams (mg) of sodium each day.
In the United States, 75% of the sodium eaten comes from processed and restaurant foods, The main sources of salt, apart from direct use of sodium chloride, are bread and cereal products, meat products, and milk and dairy products. For example, cottage cheese contains 800–1,000 mg or more per 1 cup serving. Deli meats, sausages, and hot dogs contain 500–1,000 mg per 2 oz serving. A sandwich with cheese and processed meat 950 mg/serving. A slice of thick crest pizza 950 mg/serving. French fries with salt sprinkled 400 – 1400 mg/serving. One can of split pea soup may contain 600 milligrams of sodium per serving. 1 oz slice of processed cheese may have 270 mg sodium. A can of pinto beans contains 270 milligrams of sodium per serving. Potato chips may contain 150 mg per serving.
Therefore, in order to reduce your chance of developing biological complications due to too much sodium in the body, I recommend, reducing the intake of dietary salt to one-half of what you are consuming today.