The Impact of Too Much Sodium in Your Diet
While sodium is essential to a balanced diet and a healthy body, too much is definitely not good for you. Now our bodies crave sodium for its ability to make flavors become more vibrant when that sodium is in table salt form. But our bodies also crave the base sodium component as well, and it’s not entirely understood why.
What Sodium Does
Sodium is responsible for regulating the water levels in our bodies. It basically tells our body when to retain water and when to let it go. On top of that, sodium helps to control muscle contractions and parts of the nervous system. Our body requires a certain amount of sodium to survive.
And in some ways, our body can become addicted to sodium. That’s why people often have cravings for salty food or processed foods over fruits, vegetables and food with little to no sodium in them. We aren’t necessarily craving the flavors or specific types of food so much as what the sodium in those foods does to our bodies. Studies have shown that this desire for sodium is quite similar to what happens in a body that is craving heroin and other hard drugs. Our body may not be driven to the same extremes as if we were taking drugs, but it exhibits some of the same reactions.
How Too Much Affects You Negatively
Now sodium has multiple effects on the body; so too much sodium affects different parts of your body in various ways. The effect it has on your brain is not the same as the effect that too much sodium would have on your skin. We will look at a part by part analysis of how excess sodium affects your body.
Brain- Sodium-rich diets could negatively affect the cognitive abilities of the elderly. This comes from a study conducted in Canada on more than a 1,000 adults with sedentary lifestyles. The study showed that those who partook in diets high in sodium suffered greater levels of cognitive deficiencies than people who ate less sodium.
Skin- If you are taking in too much salt, it can have an obvious effect on your skin. The condition of too much salt in your skin is known as edema, and it is characterized by puffiness of the skin. This is a problem that is caused by more than just sodium intake, but it should be noted that older people are more adversely affected by the problem and more susceptible to have edema because of the sodium in their diets.
Kidneys- We already mentioned how sodium plays an important role in balancing the levels of water in the body. Kidney filters the water in our bodies, so sodium is going to have a more direct effect on that part of the body than it might on other parts. Excess sodium can result in more water being retained. That means less urine would be expelled, and this soon leads to higher blood pressure, which comes with its own set of medical problems.
Stomach- Every part of the body has at least some water in it, and when those water levels are not where they should be, it can throw off the body in unpleasant ways. That is the theory behind why excess sodium seems to adversely affect the stomach by being likely to increased instances of stomach cancer in both men and women. The link is not completely proven, but it is highly probable and certainly suspected.
Sodium plays some key roles in the way the body works, and when people overindulge in it, they can mess with the proper functions of the body. Your entire body requires a certain amount of water, and water makes up a large percentage of the body. When that water is not at the level that is ideal for the body, by either having too much water or not enough water, then your entire body is thrown out of whack. That is why it is important to control how much sodium you eat. Most Americans consume too much sodium, and simply making some healthy diet choices can greatly affect the severity of this problem.