A few weeks ago, we published a post all about hypertension in truck drivers and how too much sodium in a diet can significantly increase your chances of being diagnosed with high blood pressure. Today’s post is all about that little ingredient we often forget about — sodium.
Sodium has garnered sort of a negative reputation throughout the years for the role it plays in high blood pressure. Some sodium is good and necessary for our bodies to function properly, but most Americans get about 2x more than they really need, and about 66% of truck drivers have high blood pressure, which can be caused by an abundance of sodium.
Sodium is actually good for you in healthy amounts. Your body uses it to control your blood pressure and blood volume, to transmit nerve impulses, and to influence the contraction and relaxation of muscles. When you consume too much sodium daily, it starts to accumulate in your blood, increasing your blood volume, making your heart work harder to pump blood through and leading to increased blood pressure.
Sodium vs. Salt
The terms “sodium” and “salt” are often used interchangeably, but there is a small difference between the two. Sodium is sodium – it’s a chemical element. Salt (which we use when we really mean “table salt”) is 40% sodium + 60% chloride. Sodium is practically everywhere, and small (or really, really large, depending on what you’re eating) amounts are found in virtually everything we eat.
Recommended Sodium Intake
For a normal, healthy adult, the recommended sodium intake is no more than 2,400 mg a day. To put that into perspective, one teaspoon of table salt contains 2,400 mg of sodium. Those who have high blood pressure, those who are 51 and older, African Americans, and those with diabetes or chronic kidney disease should not consume more than 1,500 mg a day. Most Americans consume way too much sodium daily – about 3,400 mg a day.
Too Much Sodium
When your body has too much sodium, your kidneys can’t remove it all, allowing too much to remain in your body. This can cause problems like high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, increased risk of stomach cancer, and osteoporosis.