Yeah… it’s one of those damned eat-healthy articles.

Have you ever wondered how much sodium you consume in a day? I doubt you really care. Well, whether you should care or not isn’t my purpose here today. My purpose is just to educate.

The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of sodium for an adult human being is about 2,300 milligrams a day*. That’s about one teaspoon of table salt. Now, ready for a shock? Just for funzies, count up your daily consumption of sodium for one ho-hum normal day. I’d be willing to bet you, assuming you’re a normal American, that you’ll find you’ve consumed at least 10 times the RDA; and I’m being very conservative here. Often, folks will consume 10 times the RDA in just one snack or meal. Try it. You’ll see what I mean.

Another shocker for you would be for you to take a moment the next time you’re out grocery shopping and read the sodium content on the labels of the foods you buy. If that doesn’t blow your mind, you’re just not paying attention here. You’ll find that nearly ALL processed foods (bagged, canned, etc.) is just loaded with sodium. Oh, and don’t forget to take into consideration sodium by another name; like mono-sodium glutamate, sodium nitrate, sodium benzoate, etc. Most of those are used as preservatives in packaged foods.

What is sodium used for in the body? Well, read what Lisa Bower has to say about it at Life123.com:

Sodium is an important electrolyte that helps maintain the balance of fluid in a person’s body. This means that sodium helps to regulate the amount of water in and around your body’s cells. If the fluid levels in your body are not balanced, your cells will swell and medical issues may occur.

So yes, sodium is very important to your body. Like most things, though, too much is not good for you. That’s the case with the current lifestyles of most Americans. They’re getting too much of a lot of things that aren’t good for them… sugar, salt, silly blog articles, etc. Heh! A little humor there just to see if you’re actually reading this.

What happens when your body gets too much sodium? Here’s what the Mayo Clinic has to say about it in their Nutrition and Healthy Eating article:

Your kidneys naturally balance the amount of sodium stored in your body for optimal health. When your sodium levels are low, your kidneys essentially hold on to the sodium. When sodium levels are high, your kidneys excrete the excess in urine.

But if for some reason your kidneys can’t eliminate enough sodium, the sodium starts to accumulate in your blood. Because sodium attracts and holds water, your blood volume increases. Increased blood volume makes your heart work harder to move more blood through your blood vessels, which increases pressure in your arteries. Such diseases as congestive heart failure, cirrhosis and chronic kidney disease can make it hard for your kidneys to keep sodium levels balanced.

So, now you know. The question is, what are you going to do about it? Nothing? That’s the most likely result for most folks who read this. There will be a few, though, who decide to take a few steps. Just not using that salt shaker on your table, or the table at your local feeding trough, will help a lot. If you’re really serious, start keeping a small diet log of the stuff you eat on a daily basis. Cut out the items that are really high in sodium, or substitute low salt alternatives. Lemon and balsamic vinegar are really tasty condiments that have no salt.

Young folks don’t think about this stuff. Believe me. I know. I was one of them at one time. I ate anything I wanted, whenever I wanted. It catches up with you, eventually. I’m not kidding around, kids. Be aware. You might be 25 today. You blink your eyes and you’re going to be 45; with complications due to diabetes, heart issues, etc. Be smart. Live longer. Or think like I used to: live fast, die young, leave a good-looking corpse. My mother used to tell me that 2 out of 3 wasn’t bad.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled bullshit already in progress.

Later…

~Eric

* Source: USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans – Chapter 8 Sodium and Potassium

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About V. T. Eric Layton

vtel57, Nocturnal Slacker

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