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The Power of Salt: It's Not the Devil

garnishing snack platesSalt has been given a bad reputation in the public eye, but it’s an extremely important electrolyte that most people are deficient in. The right kind of sodium, when consumed properly, can have many health benefits.

How Much is Enough?

Contrary to popular belief, a study in JAMA found that 5 grams (5,000 mg) of sodium per day was the ideal amount to minimize heart attacks and strokes. The current recommended amount of sodium by doctors is 2,300 mg, may be too low. Sodium is essential for nerve signaling, cell receptors, and acid-base buffering, among other things. Virtually all communications in the human body are dependent on adequate sodium levels. It’s easy to see why it’s so important to get the right amount in your diet!

High life demand, such as exercise and raising kids, requires more sodium. The more life demands on a person, the more their adrenals have to produce hormones like adrenaline and cortisol to keep them going. Adrenaline helps retain sodium for cell signaling and nerve communication, but if a person doesn’t consume enough sodium, it puts more stress on their adrenals. A generous salt intake reduces the demand on the adrenals.

Fasting, low-carb, and keto diets also require more sodium. A high insulin response from high carb/sugar intake tells the kidneys to retain sodium. Grains, which are the #1 recommended food by doctors, have the highest sodium content and the highest insulin response. If you’re cutting grains in a low-carb or keto diet, you’re also removing your biggest source of sodium.

If you plan on going low-carb or keto and fasting, you need more salt. If insulin is low, there’s no signal for the kidneys to retain sodium, leading to a higher need for sodium to maintain cell signaling and nerve communication. Only drinking water and avoiding salt can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.

So, what does this all mean? We don’t believe salt is the devil. In fact, it has many essential roles in the human body. A generous salt intake, the right kind of sodium, and the proper balance of electrolytes may even lead to improved health, athletic performance, and less stress on the adrenals.

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1 Join the Conversation

  1. Sherri Heitz says
    Mar 22, 2023 at 2:36 AM

    Drs. What part does sodium play in edema. I eat a low- salt diet for years because of my husband's hypertension. This new-to-me information has me wondering if i am deficient in sodium, and my body is retaining fluid because of it. Like a counter productive issue. What sat you? Sherri

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