When we talk about sodium and its effect on our health, holistic doctors can provide excellent insight. Board-certified and holding conventional medical training, holistic doctors are skilled at alternative therapies and treatments using a holistic approach.
At CentreSpringMD, Atlanta’s premier integrative medicine center, our team fuses different sciences. Chinese medicine, holistic medicine, and conventional medicine come together to treat a variety of health conditions, diseases, and issues.
Holistic Doctors Explain Sodium
With sodium, we are usually referring to sodium chloride, or salt. Most salt is composed of 60% sodium and 40% chloride. Sodium is responsible for nerve conduction, the contraction and relaxation of muscles, and the flow of water in and out of every cell (1). It also supports your adrenal glands and increases glial cells in your brain which helps with creative thinking and long-term planning.
However, holistic doctors stress that too much salt can lead to elevated blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease, and stroke.
Most Americans consume more salt than is needed for basic health. The US government recommends less than 1 teaspoon, or 2300 mg, per day (2). If you are consuming a whole foods diet, there will be minimal amounts of salt in your diet. Do you consume canned foods, pickled foods, packaged and processed foods? Sodium is usually an added preservative or flavoring agent. Now, you are most likely getting above the recommended amount. Most salt, apart from direct use, is found in our bread, cereals, meat and dairy products.
Advice from Holistic Doctors
Is there a healthy salt option?
Yes. Holistic doctors say to use natural or unprocessed sea salt. For example, Himalayan salt, contains 84% NaCl and 16% trace minerals. Processed or table salt contains 97.5% NaCl and the other 2.5% consists of moisture absorbents, flow agents, ferrocyanide, and aluminosilicate. Additionally, the processing of table salt alters its structure. Although, the general recommendation is to keep sodium below 2300 mg per day, the balance of sodium and potassium is important to consider.
One study called the PURE study involved over 100,000 people in over 17 countries. Research found that higher levels of potassium lowered the risk of death and cardiovascular events (3). Also, those people with sodium intake between 3-6 grams per day had lower risk of death and cardiovascular events than a higher or lower level of intake.
Foods that are rich in potassium include bananas, avocados, leafy green vegetables, nuts, mushrooms and salmon. The potassium content in Himalayan salt is 0.28% and in table salt 0.9%.
How do I know when I need less?
Have you had high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease, or have had a stroke? Holistic doctors think it is important to monitor your salt intake. Also, if you notice that you are retaining more water, consuming too much salt could be the culprit. When your sodium intake is too high, the body compensates by decreasing the amount of water excreted in the urine to balance the excess sodium in your body. Another sign that you may need to lower your sodium intake is that your thirst increases.
Holistic Doctors Know Sodium’s Health Dangers
What are the health dangers of sodium?
In addition to hypertension, heart disease and stroke, a diet too high in sodium may contribute to kidney stones and kidney disease. Essentially, sodium increases the amount of protein in your urine. Too much sodium has also been linked to stomach ulcers, osteoporosis, stomach cancer, memory decline, cataracts, RA and erectile dysfunction (4).
It is important to remember, however, that it isn’t only about sodium, but rather the balance between sodium and potassium. Low levels of potassium are associated with water retention, hypertension, arrhythmias, muscle weakness, thirst, and constipation (5).
What is the bottom line, according to holistic doctors?
One, eat a whole foods diet rich in potassium, avoid processed food. Two, choose an unprocessed salt such as Himalayan Sea salt to flavor your food.
Holistic Doctors Near Me
Would like to know more about how food can contribute to your health? Make an appointment now with me or any of our other family medicine providers at CentreSpringMD. Our integrative holistic doctors care for every patient as the whole person they are. We look at your complete physical and mental health, not just cure specific ailing parts. Our team believes in long-term, permanent health solutions.