Good or Bad: What Salt Actually Does to Your Body

Sodium chloride, or table salt, is a vital component in the human body needed for both fluid balance as well as to keep the nerves and muscles functioning normally.

In fact, having too little sodium in the body (hyponatrmia) has been linked to symptoms of dizziness, muscle twitches, and even seizures. The amount of sodium in the body is severely diluted in this case, and if you’re older, these symptoms can be more severe.

However, having too much sodium also gives you all kinds of health problems, from kidney stones to high blood pressure.

How Your Body Regulates Sodium
Sodium is regulated by the kidneys, which do this by removing excess fluid from the blood in order to dilute it. This process helps to retain normal blood pressure, and the by-product is removed from the body as urine.

Sodium is also used as an electrolyte and pairs with potassium to carry, or “pump”, electrical impulses throughout nerve cells and muscles alike. The former is pumped out of cells, while the latter is pumped in, which creates the electrical charge and transmission.

The Dangers of Too Much Salt
Just like most things, salt should be consumed in moderation and too much sodium in your body can have the following effects on your body:

• Higher blood pressure – The more sodium you have in your body, the more your body will try to use up more water to dilute the sodium. This results in having more water in your body, which in turn raises your blood pressure.

• Higher chance of kidney stones – A higher sodium content in your body also means that your kidneys will be strained. Once this accumulates in unhealthy amounts, you increase your risk of getting kidney stones.

• Higher risk of heart attack – Diabetics should especially be on the lookout to make sure they don’t consume too much salt, since it easily doubles the threat of cardiovascular disease.

Sodium is definitely essential, but the good news is there’s no need to worry too much about getting too much or not enough.

In fact, the ideal amount of sodium that you should consume daily is about 2,300 milligrams for healthy adults, and 1,500 milligrams for those with high blood pressure. In fact, most foods you see in supermarkets today contain a significant amount of sodium that can easily exceed the daily recommended amount.

While there are a lot of reasons to cut down on salt and use less of it in your cooking, you can still use it to add flavor to your dishes however you’d like. As long as you maintain a healthy, balance diet, you should be fine.

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