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  • Writer's pictureCourtney Ustrzycki

Salt & Sodium Intake

Sodium intake seems to get a 'bad rep' when we begin to develop nutrition awareness. Food labelling encourages 'low sodium' choices.


How much is too much?

What are the pro's and con's of sodium?

How much should you be having?


It's important to understand that "salt" and "sodium" are not the same thing. They seem to be used interchangeably, but they are different. How much salt you consume versus how much sodium you consume are different.


Salt (AKA sodium chloride) is about 40% sodium and 60% chloride. It flavours food and is used as a binder and stabilizer. Sodium is a mineral.


Iodized table salt, fine: 2,300 mg Sea salt, fine: 2,120 mg

Pink (Himalayan) salt: 2,200 mg Sea salt, course: 1,560 mg


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average person consumes more than 3,400 mg of sodium daily. That is well over the recommended Dietary Guidelines intake of less than 2,300 mg per day. Remember though, this is average based on American society, it's important to consider context like this when accounting for your own intake and needs.


From my personal experience (as I mentioned at the top of this article) I've way over-done my sodium intake unintentionally (quick context: I thought I was having Herbamare's 'sodium free' seasoning and adding it to every single meal/day, but it was actually the regular kind, and I ended up calculating something like 8,000 mg+ daily... and couldn't figure out why I was so thirsty and so watery feeling.) From my coaching experience, I've seen clients feel great around 1,500-3,500 mg daily, although accounting for the fact that there are variables and sometimes not everything is tracked accurately - and that's ok! Some clients really respond to a flux in sodium, where others don't. Everyone is different. So I'm not going to give you a number you 'should aim for' necessarily.


In short, our bodies need salt and sodium. Finding the balance that works for your body, is a matter of data tracking and awareness. This is where having a coach can be incredibly helpful, and we can help you with this, along with improving your nutrition understanding and relationship as a whole > courtneyforlife.com/coaching

Advantages of sodium in the body

  • Proper muscular and nerve functioning

  • Regulates blood pressure and volume

  • Maintains appropriate blood pH Levels

  • Maintains appropriate balance of bodily fluids (helps you stay hydrated, keeps your water that you consume and helps transport nutrients into your muscles/cells)

Disadvantages of too much sodium

  • Hard on the kidneys for function

  • Excess water retention in the body's attempt to dilute the sodium (this is in extreme situations, and you can usually tell this if you're ankles or wrists are squishier than usual)

  • Increases blood volume in bloodstream (heart works harder)

How to decrease excess sodium consumption

Most of the sodium we consume comes from processed foods and foods prepared in restaurants. The quickest (and likely easiest) way to decrease your sodium consumption is to prepare your own food. Instead of eating out or buying processed, ready-to-eat food choices, make an effort to have more home cooked meals. But don't be afraid to add salt (or other seasonings/spices) to your home cooked meals! It tastes great and our bodies need it.


How much should you be having?

We can follow 'standard guidelines' (as mentioned above; ~2,300 mg is the recommended daily intake) but knowing exactly how much you consume can be tricky to measure. And honestly, we don't have to get obsessive with this - because we're here for lifestyle balance, averages, and sustainability (read: measuring sodium intake every day for years isn't sustainable!) The best (and likely easiest) way to learn how much your body needs is to start tracking your intake as best as you can. Do this alongside your water intake and find weekly averages for both of these. Assess your feedback like digestion and overall how you feel (thirst, etc.)


If tracking your intake - sodium or macronutrients too!) - feels overwhelming and you're not certain where to start, I encourage you to connect with our team at Courtney For Life Coaching > courtneyforlife.com/coaching. Let us meet you where you are, regardless of your lifestyle and past diet history, and develop education, awareness and systems that truly work for your goals and sustainable success. We can determine what your body needs in alignment with your lifestyle and your goals!


References:

NB Nutrition, 2016

Sodium Fact Sheet. (2016). Retrieved July 07, 2016, from http://www.cdc.gov/dhdsp/data_statistics/fact_sheets/fs_sodium.htm

Health Risks and Disease Related to Salt and Sodium. (n.d.). Retrieved July 07, 2016, from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/salt-and-sodium/sodium-health-risks-and-disease/

The Advantages & Disadvantages of Sodium for Nutrition. (n.d.). Retrieved July 07, 2016, from http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/advantages-disadvantages-sodium-nutrition-5640.html

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