Sodium Intake- What Happens When You Eat Too Much
It is well known that Americans consume too much salt. What do I mean by too much? Well according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average American aged 2 years and older consumes more than 3400 mg of sodium daily. That is well over the recommended Dietary Guidelines intake of less than 2300 mg per day. So to bring awareness to this issue, and hopefully motivate you to monitor your own sodium intake, this article will discuss what happens when you eat too much sodium.
Advantages of Sodium in the Body
Before I get into the disadvantages of sodium intake, I want to first discuss the advantages of sodium and why it is a necessary part of a well balanced diet. The advantages of sodium include:
- Proper muscular and nerve functioning
- Regulates blood pressure and volume
- Maintains appropriate blood pH Levels
- Maintains appropriate balance of bodily fluids
Disadvantages of Too Much Sodium
Now that we know advantages, let’s dive into the disadvantages. First and foremost, the kidneys have trouble keeping up with excess sodium levels in the blood stream. In response, the body will hold on to water in an attempt to try and further dilute the sodium. This not only increases the amount of fluid surrounding your cells but also increases the volume of blood in the bloodstream. An increase in blood volume ultimately means your heart as to work much harder. Over time, this extra work leads to stiffening of blood vessels which can lead to high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke.
How to Decrease Your Sodium Consumption
Most of the sodium we consume comes from processed foods and foods prepared in restaurants. With that said, the quickest 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. Your heart (and scale!) will thank you.
- 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