Bookmark Website  | Free Registration  | The Team
The Lounge  | Champions  | The Wire |  Schedule |  Audio  |  Arcade  |  The Top Ten  |  Historical  |  Email  |  Video

The Skinny on Salt


Salt was used long before recorded history began. One of the earliest known writings, the Chinese Png-tzao-kan-mu, mentioned more than 40 types of salt.

This work was written over 4700 years ago. Even older settlements have been found around the world with various devices such as pottery used to evaporate water to leave the salt behind. It is speculated by some that major civilizations flourished in arid regions at the edge of vast deserts due to the physiological need for salt.

Salt, or sodium chloride, is a chemical compound. Salt occurs naturally in many areas of the world. Salt crystals are cubic in form - if you view salt through a magnifying glass, you will see small "squares" or cubes.

Salt is an essential nutrient - your body requires both sodium and chloride, and cannot manufacture these elements on its own. This is why there is a human gustatory receptor (taste bud) specifically for salt, forming one of the basic components of "taste". Salt is an electrolyte and has a slight charge. Salt preserves food by making it difficult for microorganisms to live - the salt draws water from the cells of microorganisms and dehydrates them.

In the body, salt helps to regulate blood volume and pressure. The relationship between salt and blood pressure was known as long as 4,000 years ago, when the Chinese emperor Huang Ti wrote of the connection between salt and a "hardened pulse." Many studies have shown that increasing or decreasing salt intake for salt-sensitive individuals can have a direct impact on blood pressure.

Within the body, salt serves as part of the ion pump. Just as salt formed a hostile environment for microorganisms by dehydrating them, salt controls water balance in the human body. The sodium/potassium pump is a prime example of how electrolytes are critical to health (sodium and potassium are both electrolytes). Two potassium molecules are pulled into a cell, and three sodium molecules are pumped out. This is an endless cycle, with the net result that cells carry a slightly negative electrical charge.

For many years, controversy has existed with respect to the optimal amounts of salt in the diet. Unfortunately, many studies focused on the salt content of foods without taking into account other electrolytes. Biologically and physiologically, sodium intake alone does not regulate the sodium/potassium pump - potassium intake is important as well! More important than the amount of sodium in the diet is the ratio of sodium to potassium. While food labels are required to report sodium content, they are not required to report potassium content, which makes analyzing potassium intake extremely difficult.

Recent research suggests that this ratio is critical. While many studies have focused on high sodium content in the diet, it appears that problems with hypertension may be related more to an inappropriate ratio of sodium to potassium. Processed foods are extremely high in sodium. The major sources of potassium are fruits and vegetables. In recent years, the typical American diet has increased in the amount of processed foods and drastically decreased in the amount of whole, unprocessed foods such as fruit and vegetables. This means that sodium intake is potentially much higher than potassium intake.

When monitoring sodium in the diet, it is important to consider two factors. The first factor already discussed is the ratio of sodium to potassium. In order to balance this ratio, it is important to eat whole, unprocessed foods and not to add excessive salt to meals. This will lower the amount of sodium in the diet. One should also increase the amount of fruit and vegetables consumed in order to increase potassium in the diet. The exact ratio is unknown, but research suggests that a 1:1 ratio is probably a good target. The typical American diet is more than a 5:1 ratio in favor of salt!

The second factor to consider is fluctuation of intake. Salt sensitivity is not sensitivity to salt in general. It is sensitivity to a drastic change of salt intake. If a person is taking 5 grams of sodium consistently, then suddenly goes on a low sodium diet, problems can occur with a radical shift in blood pressure. Similarly, someone on a "low sodium" diet who suddenly increases sodium intake may experience similar problems. This is why many people who eat healthy throughout the week and then treat themselves to a "splurge" meal sometimes feel nauseous and can even experience elevated heart rate and blood pressure: it is the body's reaction to the sudden increase in salt intake.

The sodium/potassium pump affects fluid balance. The body monitors the amount of salt and potassium in the bloodstream, as the body has no mechanism for storing electrolytes. Sodium and potassium are typically filtered in the kidney. When a shortage of either exists, the body secretes hormones that drastically reduce excretion of electrolytes and fluids. This is why cutting out sodium too soon before a body building competition can actually cause the competitor to retain water - the body is reacting to the lowered intake by preserving fluids and electrolytes.

To summarize, the skinny on salt is as follows:

  • Be more concerned with the ratio of salt to potassium than the actual amount of salt in the diet
  • Do not try to eliminate salt - it is essential and required by the body - instead, try to reduce excessive intake by focusing on whole, unprocessed foods and minimizing the amount of salt that you add to meals
  • Increase potassium intake by including 4 - 5 servings of fruit and/or vegetables in your daily menu
  • Focus on restoring electrolytes post-workout, preferably with a higher potassium-to-sodium ratio. For example, Mass Maker from Beverly International has 300mg of potassium to 140mg of sodium, or about 2:1.
  • Avoid frequent, high fluctuations in salt and/or potassium intake, as these may have an adverse effect on your blood pressure

The lesson here is one of moderation. Salt is not the enemy, and by no means should it be eliminated from the diet. On the other hand, everyone should be aware of the role that sodium plays in a balanced nutrition program, to make sure that excessive salt is not being consumed. Balance salt intake with potassium intake. The preferred source of any vitamin, mineral, or other nutrient is always natural, unprocessed foods.

Jeremy Likness is an International Health Coach and motivational speaker. After losing 65 pounds of fat, he discovered his true vision to coach thousands around the world to better health. A Certified Fitness Trainer and Specialist in Performance Nutrition, Jeremy is the author of the internationally-selling e-Book, Lose Fat, Not Faith and the companion 5-CD set. Jeremy has been published in major online publications including Tom Venuto's Fitness Renaissance and Bodybuilding.com. Jeremy's approach is unique because he focuses on fitness from the inside out. Visit Jeremy online at Natural Physiques.


MORE RESOURCES:

Juvenile lockup increases portion size and nutrition of meals
KSN-TV
TOPEKA, Kansas (AP) – Shawnee County is feeding its juvenile inmates more after finding behavior improves when portion sizes increase. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that in July the corrections department tried out doubling the portion size of the ...

and more »


Nutrition, exercise crucial at any age
Jackson Clarion Ledger
A study in The Journal of Nutrition shows that including a moderate amount of protein at three meals throughout the day provides many health benefits, such as supporting healthy aging and weight management by minimizing muscle loss and aiding in satiety.



Spending cuts to education and nutrition will hurt kids
CNNMoney
Meanwhile, spending on most other child-centric categories -- such as education and nutrition -- will fall. Spending on K-12 education, for instance, will decline from $43 billion in 2013 to $38 billion in 2024. That's due in large part to the forced ...

and more »


Herbalife is Official Nutrition Sponsor of the 2014 YMCA Stair Climb forLos ...
MarketWatch
LOS ANGELES, Sep 19, 2014 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Herbalife HLF, -1.82% a leading global nutrition company, has announced that it will once again be the Official Nutrition Sponsor of the 2014 YMCA Stair Climb for Los Angeles. This is the 21st year of the ...

and more »


Siouxland school lunches and elderly nutrition for the week of Sept. 21
Sioux City Journal
Persons 60 years of age and older and their spouses may participate in the elderly nutrition program in Siouxland. In Sioux City, meals are served Tuesday-Friday at Riverside Lutheran Church, 1817 Riverside Blvd.; on Monday at Riverside Gardens' ...

and more »


Nutrition for the Elderly
New York Times
Good nutrition for older adults is crucial to maintaining their health and independence and improving recovery time from illnesses and injuries. How older adults get their nutrition varies widely. Some older adults, like those profiled in your article ...



8 Food Myths I Learned at Nutrition School
Huffington Post Canada
Whereas I was warned in nutrition school of the perils of fat, now fat seems to be the angel and sugar is the devil. That's why between classes, I would grab a bag of Rold Gold pretzels or a Rice Krispies treat, and I would always put fat-free ...



Lindenhurst Chiropractor Launches Nutrition Website
GlobeNewswire (press release)
LINDENHURST, Ill., Sept. 21, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- A Lindenhurst chiropractor has announced the launch of a nutrition website to complement his suite of natural healing services. According to Dr. Mark Freund, DC of Natural Care Chiropractic, the ...
Frankfort Chiropractor Explains Link Between Nutrition and Chronic Health ...Virtual-Strategy Magazine (press release)

all 2 news articles »


Reuters

US nutrition program for mothers, infants sees falling demand
Reuters
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, known as WIC, has seen a sharp drop in participation since 2010, unlike food stamps and other anti-poverty programs that ballooned during the 2007-9 recession and the ...
Government Nutrition Program's Problems Driving Some Low-Income Women ...Huffington Post
Smaller stores charging more for WIC foodsFood Business News (registration)

all 18 news articles »


Simplified school lunches retain taste and nutrition
AberdeenNews.com
Not everyone agreed on all the healthy food options. Carmen Huber, 8, top left, gave a thumbs down to hummus and vegetables as a school lunch option, while Cedrick Totton, 8, far right, gave a thumbs up to everything on the menu. Huber, Totton and ...


Google News


Advertisement



Section Site Map - Submit News - Feedback - Comments - Advertise with Us

Copyright 2006 Luminati Inc. All rights reserved.