What salt will do to you | February 2, 2008

So if you do not know why or believe that excessive salt intake is a major cause for hypertension, this is your opportunity to embrace this wonderful goblet of information.

Salt Lick Picture

Currently our wonderful government has set the recommended daily allowance of salt at 1.5 g to 2.4 g a day. To be kind to you, most food labels regard the 2.4 g as the gold standard, and when you’re eating, that’s the limit they’re trying to get you to reach.

Unfortunately, the typical American diet takes in over 4-10 g of sodium a day. That’s a bad thing because our kidneys are not designed to excrete sodium, and when there is a lot of it, things go wrong, how? Follow me down a yellow brick road.

1. You eat too much sodium. No really, you did. Check the label.

2. Kidneys say, “we’ve hit the jackpot!” Kidneys do their best to take it all in.

3. Due to osmotic effects from the increased sodium reabsorption, the plasma volume increases.

4. This increases endogenous ouabain, which is a hormone that regulates how much sodium your body’s cells will take in.

5. Due to the increase in ouabain, your cells (Na-K pump) decide to work overtime to bring the sodium into the cells.

6. Since the cells have so much sodium, some other parts of the cell decide that they’ve had enough, and they eject sodium out, and bring in calcium. (NCX)

7. Now that the calcium levels within your cells start to get very high, and this actually happens all of the time, when your muscles contract. But since this is really due to too much salt intake, it’s bad.

8. The calcium signals for increased vascular tone and contractility (strength of muscle contractions)

9. This increases your blood pressure.

10. Stroke or heart attack. Death.


Posted in Health, Nutrition

1 Comment »

  1. Helpful to a point. What if you have no labels to read, e.g., if you eat homecooked meals. The grams measurement doesn’t help me. Is there a way when I’m cooking from scratch that I can approximate how much my sodium intake is??

    Comment by Caroline — February 8, 2008 @ 5:51 pm

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