High sodium intake can lead to very serious health problems. It is recommended that humans consume less than 2,300 mg of sodium per day. Americans on average are consuming more than 3,400 mg, far more than what is considered healthy.
A higher salt intake can be connected to many causes—anything from stress and fatigue, to cultural traditions. From fast food to fine dining, it has become a part of the American culinary tradition to consume this little electrolyte that is vital for life, but in excess can become deadly.
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Sodium, along with potassium and chloride, is one of the three major electrolytes. They are an electrically charged substance whose main responsibility is to carry nutrients in and out of cells. Electrolytes are found in your blood, your cells, the space between your cells, everywhere.
When our body becomes over loaded with sodium, the body tries to secrete that sodium through the kidneys. If the kidneys cannot keep up, the vascular system begins to constrict and the body dilutes the unused sodium by increasing the fluid volume in the body. This is called fluid retention.
Fluid retention is the most mild reaction to a high salt diet, while greater long term effects include cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and stomach cancer.
Cutting back on your sodium intake is possible. Start with these three simple tips:
More: The Sneaky Side of Salt
1. Cut back slowly.
Cold turkey is never the way to go. You'll find yourself with irrational cravings and a bored palette. Take an inventory of how much sodium you are ingesting per day and cut it back by roughly five to ten percent each week. Let your mind and body adjust to the change slowly and you will have better results.
2. Invest in a salt substitute.
Salt substitutes are available at most grocery stores. Products such as AlsoSalt have zero sodium and taste like the real thing.
More: Watch Your Salt Intake
3. Be consistent and don't give up.
It's important to stick to your plan. Try not to cheat by having one high sodium meal per day and then making up for it by cutting it low on other meals. Be consistent in your sodium rations with all meals and stick to it until you hit your goal. The good news is that your body will adjust and thank you for it in good health.Perfect your nutrition to boost your performance. Sign up for a race near you.