The Role of Sodium in Healthy Living

salt shaker

The Role of Sodium in Healthy Living

The Importance of Sodium to the Body

Sodium is one of the minerals that is essential to life. The level of sodium in your body is regulated by your kidneys and it assists your body in controlling fluid balance. In addition, sodium affects the functioning of the muscles and the transmission of nerve impulses. Pretty important mineral, wouldn’t you agree?

How Sodium Impacts Heart Health

If the level of sodium in your blood increases, water is pulled into the blood vessels. This, in turn, increases the volume of blood in the blood vessels. The effect of more blood flowing through the blood vessels causes an increase in your blood pressure. This can be likened to cranking up the supply of water to a garden hose. As more water is fed into the hose, the pressure inside the hose increases. With time, high blood pressure can overload or harm the walls of the blood vessels and hasten the accumulation of gunky plaque. This can impede the flow of blood in the body. The extra pressure also fatigues the heart by making it work harder in order to pump sufficient blood throughout the body.

Here is some important information relating to high blood pressure, also referred to as the ‘silent killer’ due to the fact that its symptoms may not always be noticeable:

-It is one of the biggest risk factors for heart disease, which is the deadliest health problem the world over.

-It is the primary risk factor when it comes to the death of women in the US, and the second most important risk factor for male deaths.

-33 percent of American adults suffer from high blood pressure. Furthermore, 90 percent of mature Americans are likely to get high blood pressure at some point in their lives.

-Over 40 percent of black non-Hispanic adults suffer from high blood pressure. High blood pressure is more common among blacks than whites. In addition, it starts to develop earlier in blacks than in whites.

Even though you may not be suffering from high blood pressure, consuming less sodium can help curb the increase in blood pressure that comes with age, and minimize the risk of heart attack, stroke, heart failure, stomach cancer, kidney disease, headaches, and osteoporosis. The additional water in your body may also result in weight gain and bloating.

Most Common Sources of Sodium

Approximately 77 percent of our sodium intake comes from prepared, packaged and restaurant foodstuffs. The remainder of the sodium we take in is naturally found in the foods we eat (approximately 12 percent) or added by ourselves during cooking or when we are eating. Even if you do not use the salt shaker at all, you are most likely still consuming too much sodium.

Since the greatest amount of the sodium that we eat is already in our food when we buy it, this means it is difficult for people to control the amount of sodium they are consuming. Americans deserve the chance to choose the amount of sodium they are taking in. During a survey that was conducted by AHA, it was observed that three-quarters of U.S. adults preferred to have less sodium in restaurant and processed foods.

Benefits of Reducing Your Sodium Intake

Together with cutting down the risk of getting high blood pressure, feeling bloated and other uncomfortable effects of eating excess sodium, reducing your sodium intake can save you money.

According to one estimate, if Americans consumed 1,500 milligrams per day of sodium on average, it could lead to a 25.6 percent overall reduction in blood pressure, translating to health care savings of approximately $26.2 billion.

There are some recent research studies that challenge the link between sodium intake and health problems, but the association is real and Americans should continue reducing their salt consumption. Newer research intensifies the discussion that has developed in the past few years about the appropriate levels of salt consumption and its effects.

It is crucial to note that new studies become only a part of the decade-old evidence on the topic. When pondering that evidence in its entirety, it is obvious that a substantial body of research bolsters the link between healthy living and sodium consumption.

Dr. Sue Reddy specializes in the treatment of infectious disease among many other specialties. She understands what is required to live a healthy, active life. Please feel free to take a look around her website and if you feel she provides services you may be interested in, give Dr. Reddy a call. Her staff would be more than happy to set up an appointment and answer any questions you may have.

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