Proper Sodium Intake For Good Health And Nutrition

Many people may be following a strict diet, but is the sodium intake right?

For many years I have believed that consuming too much sodium would lead to a whole host of problems and affect my health and nutrition too. The belief is that the more sodium you have in your body, the more water it binds too. For this reason, sodium was long thought to increase blood pressure, a risk factor in heart disease, stroke and kidney disease.

How Bad Is Consumption Of Sodium For A Person? Is There A Limit If You Are Healthy?

Several more recent studies have concluded that no benefit can be had from sodium restriction when it comes to preventing heart disease or death. Reducing sodium intake can lower blood pressure, the change is pretty small and unlikely to have any effect on health. An average person who reduces his or her salt levels from the median levels (around 3,500 milligrams per day) to the recommended levels may see a drop in blood pressure from about 120/80 to 118/79, not really a change.

This doesn’t mean you should have high amounts of sodium on a daily basis but I do believe there is no basis for the current sodium guidelines. Those guidelines recommend less than 2,300 milligrams per day ( around a teaspoon of salt), and no more than 1,500 milligrams a day for those aged 50 or over or those who are at an increased risk of developing hypertension (blood pressure greater than 120/80).

In 2013, the Institute Of Medicine concluded that there was not enough evidence that following the U.S. recommended limit on sodium consumption improved health outcomes. To add-on to that, existing evidence does not support a positive or negative effect of lowering sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams per day in terms of cardiovascular risk.

Mixed with a great diet, supplements can give you a huge boost when it comes to intense workout sessions.

It is without a doubt that monitoring sodium intake in specific populations is warranted, but to make the same assumption for those who are apparently healthy makes little sense to me. Your body does need sodium, it helps regulate blood pressure and volume, is necessary for proper nerve and muscle function and can add great flavor to food.

For individuals who are highly active, sodium is a crucial electrolyte that helps to maintain inracellular and extracellular fluids in the right balance. It also helps to maintain electrical gradients across cell membranes, this is crucial for nerve transmission and muscle contraction. In athletes, low sodium intake can cause muscle cramps and in more serious cases can cause hyponatremia, a sodium deficiency that can be very dangerous.

Additionally, if you are a heavy or salty sweater, you are at an increased risk of sodium deficiency. In that case, it becomes even more important to make sure you’re getting adequate salt intake.

What Can I Learn From This?

If you are healthy and not at risk from developing hypertension, don’t stress about sodium intake. If you do start noticing swelling however in various parts of your body (due to excess water retention), or a rise in blood pressure (above 120/80), monitor your sodium intake a lot more closely.

Certain oils and fats are actually very good for you.

I Have Heard Of Many People Who Consume Too Much Omega-6 And Not Enough Omega-3, How Important Is That Ratio In Your Diet?

Omega-3 fatty acids rank among the most important nutrients in the body. they’re essential to your overall health and can also be beneficial for heart health, cholesterol levels and whole-body inflammation.

Omega-3 fats can be acquired from both animal and plant sources, although many experts will suggest that animal-based omegas that contain EPA and DHA are better than plant-based sources.

Omega-6 fatty acids are also essential too for your health, they play a vital role in brain function as well as normal growth and development. These fatty acids are primarily sourced from corn, soy, canola and sunflower oils.

So, if Omega-6’s are just as important for your health as Omega-3’s. why is it that we normally supplement with just Omega-3? The answer is simple: The standard American diet is already flooded with Omega-6 fatty acids.

Most people fail to consume decent amounts of Omega-3, which can increase the risk of certain types of cancer and other serious mental and physical health problems. On the other hand, we consume plenty of Omega-6 – in some cases, too much – this can promote inflammation and contribute to the narrowing of the blood vessels and blood clotting.

In this respect, the ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 appears to be a big player in inflammation and overall health. Dependent on who you ask, the standard American diet has ratios anywhere from 12:1 to 20:1. A ratio should be closer to 4:1 or lower for more beneficial health and cardiovascular function.

All of these foods contain good fats, this can help reduce the risk of many diseases.

What Have We Learned From This?

An average diet contains more than enough Omega-6, so no need to use supplements for this. As for Omega-3, the recommended intake is 1.5-1.8 grams (1,500 – 1,800 milligrams) per day. This could be achieved by eating fatty fish a couple of times per week or through supplementing with 0.5-1.8 grams (500 – 1,800 milligrams) per day of EPA+DHA.

Is There Any Advantage To Getting Your Creatine From Whole-Food Sources Like Red Meat As Opposed To From Supplements?

The quick answer here is no but let’s look at it in more detail.

Creatine supplements are nothing new, every bodybuilding article has been preaching about them for years. The benefits of creatine range from increases in strength and power to improvements in body composition and brain function. Whilst your body is capable of producing creatine on it’s own, it also excretes about 2g per day. In order to optimize creatine stores in the body, we turn to diet and supplementation.

The best dietary source for creatine is red meat, it is estimated that every pound of raw meat contains 2g of creatine. Another great source to get it from is fish like tuna and salmon. If your goal is to use only food sources to increase creatine stores, it won’t come along easily i’m afraid.

You would have to consume 2-3 pounds of raw meat or fish to get the same amount of creatine as supplementing with 5g of creatine monohydrate. Not a fan of raw meat? Plan to eat more often then, as cooking meat at higher heats breaks down creatine, leaving it less available for your body to absorb.

A proper diet is essential for optimum performance in the gym.

It is perfectly possible to get the recommended daily dose of 5g of creatine through your diet, I wouldn’t recommend that much red meat or fish every single day. You will see an increase in your grocery bill and also there are studies that suggest that eating large amounts of red meat on a regular basis may shorten your lifespan. You may even see your gym time lowered by the amount of time you have to spend in the kitchen preparing all that food.

What Have We Learned From This?

For a safe and effective supplement to help boost performance in the gym, creatine is the obvious choice here, but just take the supplement. One teaspoon of creatine is a lot cheaper and a heck of a lot easier than trying to eat three pounds of meat every day.

After reading this article, you should be able to get decent health and nutrition without any issues.

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