Sodium is an important mineral which supplies electrolytes and maintains fluid levels within the cells. Additionally, it plays a critical role in digestion as well as transmission of nerve impulses in the body.
However, there is something problematic regarding sodium. The problem is that most people consume too much. The recommended daily intake of sodium varies from one source to the next:
- American Heart Association (AHA): 1500 mg
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND): 1500 to 2300 mg
- United States Department of Agriculture (USDA): 2300 mg
An interesting fact is the recommended amount as excessive sodium intake increases the risk of heart disease, heart attack, and similar heart-related problems.
“People with heart failure may improve their symptoms by reducing the amount of salt (sodium) in their diet. Eating too much salt causes the body to retain too much water, worsening the fluid build-up associated with heart failure,” according to the WebMD.
Americans’ average intake of sodium is around 3,400 mg, most of which comes from processed foods. “A processed food is one that has undergone a transformation from the raw form either to extend shelf-life – such as the freezing or dehydration of fruits and vegetables – or to improve consumer’s palatability of (taste for) raw commodities – such as transforming grain and animal products into bakery and meat products.”
5 Warning Signs Your Body Is Getting Too Much Sodium
- Decreased Bone Health
The bones require a high amount of calcium to be healthy. Consuming sodium-rich foo causes the bones to lose calcium density, which leads to bone loss. As recommended by the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF), you should limit the amount of processed foods, canned foods, and salt added to foods consumed daily. The NOF further recommends limiting sodium intake to less than 2,400 mg per day.
While eliminating processed food is quite difficult, reading the labels well and controlling our trips to fast food places does help.
- Kidney Stones
Excessive sodium causes the kidneys to excrete more calcium in the urine. A high concentration of calcium often combines with minerals like phosphorus and oxalate, which will then form stones. As sodium intake is excessive in most people`s diets, it is recommended to reduce it by altering our diets and consuming more calcium.
- Inflammation and Weight Gain
When the amount of sodium concentrated on the outside of the cells is excessive, the kidneys reduce the amount of water released in the urine, leading to water retention in certain body parts. Even though sodium isn’t directly associated with fat gain, it increases water weight that shows up on the scale.
- Cardiovascular Disease
Here are some facts presented at the 2010 American Heart Association meeting,
- Excessive salt consumption led to 2.3 million heart-related deaths worldwide.
- 42 percent of deaths were a result of coronary heart disease.
- 41 percent of deaths were the result of stroke
Additionally, the World Health Organization has directly linked excessive intake and cancer.
- Cognitive Decline
According to a 2011 Canadian study, people who consume a high-sodium diet are at higher risk of cognitive decline. As the researchers explain, this result was “independent of hypertension and global diet quality” and “suggests that sodium intake alone may affect cognitive function in sedentary adults above and beyond the effects of overall diet.”