Why Your Body Needs Salt

A low salt diet is widely publicized as a sensible eating pattern. Why?  Because when salt is consumed in excess it causes blood pressure to rise and water retention. Hypertension in turn increases your risk for heart disease, heart attack and stroke. And edema is not good for sufferers of certain health conditions, particularly congestive heart failure, cirrhosis and kidney disease.

However, reducing salt consumption for healthy individuals may not be the right option either. New research indicates that when not enough is consumed an increased risk of death may occur. As such, how much salt to consume is currently in dispute.

In the meantime, you have a choice to make. Do you cut back or carry on as usual? Your particular health and lifestyle are key factors in this decision. And knowing why your body needs salt does help.

Salt is made up of sodium and chloride, which are two essential electrolytes for your body to function properly. Both play vital roles in maintaining overall hydration, pH balance, nerve impulse transmission and cellular fluid regulation.

Individually, sodium aides in transport of nutrients into cells, regulating blood pressure and bone health. And chloride is part of an ingredient in stomach acid, which helps digest food for nutrient absorption.

Sodium and chloride is not made by the body. Table salt is its major source. Yet you may being consuming it in other ways as well, including by nature in some food and tap water, or as an additive in food processing.

Salt retention is tightly regulated by your kidneys. Your body is regularly excreting it via urine, feces and sweat. Therefore your body relies on routine replacement. Salt is also lost with profuse vomiting or diarrhea, so your body needs an additional amount during health recovery.

For more on this topic read salt cravings and salt sensitivity posts.