WHAT IS SODIUM?
Sodium is a naturally found element, represented by “Na” on the periodic table. This material is found naturally in foods we eat such as meats and vegetables.
We have also managed to chemically isolate this substance and make it available to put on foods as what we know as “salt”.
WHAT DOES IT DO?
Sodium is primarily an electrolyte, but also serves in the body to regulate cell volume and water retention within the cells in our bodies. Many people don’t know why the word electrolyte has the word “electro-“within it. Well if you can manage to put your thinking cap on, you will realize that electrolytes have to do with electricity within your body. Without getting too in depth to this topic, when your nerves fire to make your muscles contract, in doing this, they need to produce an electric current from your nerve to your muscle. Your body uses sodium and other electrolytes to produce a charge which makes your muscle contract. ELECTROLYTES = MUSCLE CONTRACTIONS
HOW MUCH DO WE NEED?
The average human (non-athlete) needs a very small amount of sodium per day and as long as you are eating normal food you are likely to be getting a sufficient intake. (1200-2300mg per day)
This graph is from the government of Canada, advising people on what their intake should be. Now, if you’re wondering why the government has a graph so dedicated to sodium, it’s what leads into our next topic.
SODIUM THE BAD
Leading cause of death in Canada? Heart Disease, and sodium is Heart Disease’s Best Friend. Many Canadians consume WAY too sodium, which can lead to the following:
- high blood pressure (hypertension)
- vascular and cardiac damage independent of high blood pressure
- detrimental effects on calcium and bone metabolism
- increased risk of stomach cancer
- increase severity of asthma
So to put it in plain English, KEEP YOUR SODIUM LOW!
WAYS TO REDUCE NEGATIVE EFFECTS OF SODIUM!
Exercise – this will help your body use excess sodium as well and help strengthen your cardiovascular system to help stop or reverse the hypertension that is occurring.
Drink Lots of Water – This won’t help as much as exercise, but making sure you are constantly hydrated throughout the day will in a sense “dilute” the sodium within your body’s cells, and help combat the negative effects.
Consume Adequate Potassium – This nutrient helps lower blood pressure and acts against the negative effects of over-consumption of sodium.
With hard training comes your need to replace your electrolytes as needed. Depending on the amount cardiovascular training you are doing your need to either food with adequate sodium of supplement through another source (ex. Gatorade). This will prevent cramping, spasms and fatigue. This type of added sodium is only needed for High-Intensity resistance workouts (Cross-Fit/Circuit Training) or for Long-Low Intensity workouts (Marathon or IronMan).
Here is a list of foods to be aware of:
- Breads (Subway especially)
- Processed Meats
- Vegetable Cocktail (Motts, V8)
Feel free to contact me @PaulHardingg through twitter or at my Vendetta Fighter account email. firstname.lastname@example.org
Till next time, Stay Healthy!