Are you consuming enough salt?

For many years we were told that we need to limit our salt consumption to 2,000 mg of sodium per day (equivalent to about 5,000 mg or 5 g of salt or 1 teaspoon). This recommendation is largely based on observations linking higher sodium intakes to higher blood pressure. There is, however, very limited evidence available to support these recommendations. 
So what is the research saying about salt?
There is also a growing body of research bringing these recommendations into question.

In 1988, the Intersalt Study looked at sodium intake and blood pressure in over 10,000 people across 52 regions of the world. In most populations, the researchers found no link between sodium intake and high blood pressure. In fact, the population that ate the most salt, about 14 grams a day, had a lower median blood pressure than the population that ate the least, about 7.2 grams a day.

Then, in 2017, there was another study analysing 2,632 people with normal blood pressure. Researchers split these people into two groups, high sodium consumers (>2.5g) and low sodium consumers (<2.5g). Surprisingly, the high sodium group had lower blood pressure than the low sodium group.

The researchers went on to say that there is no scientific support for lowering sodium intakes among healthy adults to below 2.3 g/day (US guidelines) as recommended.

What this study did identify is the need to consider the intakes of other minerals such as potassium, magnesium, and calcium in addition to sodium in relation to blood pressure regulation.

In 2020, a Cochrane Collaboration Review (a big deal that involves reviewing all the available evidence) found that low-salt diets correlated with a tiny reduction in blood pressure. The authors of this review concluded that the numerous adverse side effects of salt restriction were more consistent than the effects on blood pressure.

Why is sodium so important?

Sodium is an essential mineral required to conduct nerve impulses, contract and relax muscles, maintain the proper balance of water and minerals in the body, and help with the absorption of nutrients.

We typically get sodium in our diet in the form of sodium chloride (table salt).

Sodium chloride is a strong electrolyte. This means that it splits up into sodium and chloride ions which dissolve in water and conduct electricity.

Most people need more sodium than they think, especially if they’re active. In fact, low sodium is the most common type of electrolyte imbalance. The reasons for this are:

  • Loss of water and electrolytes through sweat production. Highly active people and athletes, especially in warm weather, can lose up to 10 litres of water and 7 grams of sodium. Both water and sodium need to be replaced to re-establish normal total body water.
  • Certain diets that reduce insulin (a good thing), such as the keto diet, paleo and wholefoods diet can increase your excretion of sodium.
  • Sodium excretion of greater than 7 g per day is associated with an increased risk of all cardiovascular events, and a sodium excretion of less than 3 g per day is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular mortality and hospitalisation.
  • A 2011 JAMA study found that 4–6 grams of sodium per day was required for minimising heart attack and stroke risk. The amount required for optimal general health may be higher.

 What if my sodium intake is too low?

 Remember, sodium is an essential nutrient and if you don’t get enough, you can experience a raft of unwanted symptoms and health issues, including:

  • Raised blood pressure: Long-term low-salt diets have been shown to increase blood pressure by activating certain nervous system, and hormonal responses.
  • Muscle cramps: There is evidence that some cases of muscle cramping may be associated with disturbances of water and salt balance.
  • Insomnia: A low-sodium diet has been linked to serious sleeping problems, including decreased rapid eye movement and slow-wave sleep.
  • Raise cholesterol, triglycerides, and stress hormones (American Journal of Hypertension, Jan. 2012)
  • Fatigue: Low sodium can lead to lethargy, confusion, and fatigue.
  • High cortisol: This primary stress hormone is needed for short-term fight-or-flight responses. However, long-term raised cortisol levels can result in weight gain, muscle breakdown and bone demineralisation. Chronic stress can raise cortisol levels but so too can low sodium.
  • Osteoporosis: Low sodium levels result in your body leaching this mineral from your bones.

Why does Melrose Peak Hydration taste salty?

Most sports drinks and hydration formulas are low in electrolytes and high in sugar. This might give them a pleasant taste but offers little sodium or other electrolytes.

Electrolytes such as sodium chloride and potassium chloride taste salty. So, to produce a hydration formula that will really make a difference you need to include enough electrolytes and that means it will taste salty.

The benefits of this are that you will stay hydrated. You will maintain the right balance of fluid inside and outside every cell of your body. Your nervous system and brain will function properly, muscle contractions will be well regulated, and skin will be well hydrated.

 I thought salt makes you thirstier. How can a hydration formula be salty?

 Your body needs more than just water to hydrate.We’ve all experienced those hot days when guzzling glasses of water just doesn’t seem to quench our thirst.

While getting enough water is critical, a balance of electrolytes that includes sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, and chloride, is necessary for hydration. They play an essential role in enabling your body to hold onto and use the water you drink, keeping you more hydrated, compared to plain drinking water.

 They are responsible for ensuring you get the right distribution of water inside and outside your cells.

 Does salt provide any other nutritional benefits?

 Absolutely!Salt is made up of sodium chloride. We’ve already discussed the benefits of sodium, but chloride is also a vital electrolyte. As such, it helps regulate the amount of fluid and types of nutrients going in and out of the cells.

 After sodium, chloride is the most abundant electrolyte in the blood. Chloride also makes up gastric acid (HCl) responsible for the digestion of protein and killing bacteria in the gut.

It also maintains proper pH levels, stimulates the action of nerve and muscle cells, and facilitates the flow of oxygen and carbon dioxide within cells.

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