There are instances if you may have to eat a little bit additional salt. Surprised? That’s comprehensible, given the period of time and power spent vilifying salt with regards to private well being.

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There’s a motive for warning, after all. For some folks, an excessive amount of salt can contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. Those are situations you need to keep away from.

But salt can also ship essential electrolytes your physique must perform. If you’ve been understanding or dripping buckets of sweat on a scorching day … nicely, some salt could assist you replenish misplaced sources.

So, the place’s the road between good and unhealthy with regards to salt consumption for electrolytes? Let’s get some steering from registered dietitian Julia Zumpano, RD, LD.

What makes salt an electrolyte?

Salt is definitely a mix of two key electrolytes — sodium and chloride.

Those parts are among the many listing of gear categorised as electrolytes. Others embrace magnesium, potassium and calcium. Your cells use electrolytes to conduct electrical prices to maintain your physique operating.

Positive and unfavourable electrolyte ions operating by way of your system do some heavy lifting. They assist preserve your fluid ranges; flip vitamins into power; and help coronary heart rhythm, mind perform and muscle management.

“Each electrolyte provides different properties to meet different needs for you,” says Zumpano.

Sodium and chloride, the elements of salt, are the 2 most plentiful electrolytes in your physique. Both play a crucial position in serving to your physique’s cells preserve a correct steadiness of fluid.

Each has different duties, too. Sodium performs a job in how cells take in vitamins and aids nerve and muscle perform. Chloride works to manage blood strain and hold your physique’s pure pH degree in line.

Benefits of salt as an electrolyte

When you train or spend time within the warmth, your physique sweats as a pure cooling response. But the perspiration pouring out of your pores isn’t simply water. Sweat additionally accommodates a great quantity of sodium.

So, as you sweat and soak a shirt throughout a troublesome exercise or whereas toiling underneath the blistering solar, your physique is leaking key electrolytes drop by drop. Plus, there are “super sweaters” who lose much more.

Boosting your sodium or salt consumption can rapidly replenish misplaced electrolytes. That’s why most sports activities drinks comprise sodium and different electrolytes. “If you’re low in electrolytes, you’ll often feel better almost immediately after replenishing them,” notes Zumpano.

That’s necessary as a result of the lack of electrolytes can create an imbalance that brings on signs similar to:

  • Confusion or mind fog.
  • Irritability.
  • Muscle cramps.
  • Fatigue.
  • Headaches or dizziness.
  • Diarrhea.

An excessive lack of sodium could result in hyponatremia, which might trigger swelling in your mind, seizures and coma. (Marathon runners and different endurance athletes are sometimes vulnerable to this condition.) 

Are salt electrolytes good for you?

If you need them, yes — however it’s necessary to not overdo it, both.

“It’s key to take an individualized approach as to how much sodium you might need,” says Zumpano. “You should consider your cardiac health, your blood pressure and how much you sweat.”

It’s price noting right here that the common American weight loss program contains much more sodium than really helpful. Given that, deliberately including extra sodium to your weight loss program to offset electrolyte losses ought to solely be completed when there’s a want.

Ways to absorb additional sodium or salt

Many sports activities drinks comprise 250 milligrams or extra of sodium — which is greater than 10% of what’s really helpful for the day. That’s what makes the electrolyte-enhanced drink an efficient option to rebalance your system.

Other choices for a fast dose of sodium embrace:

  • Salty snacks similar to pretzels or salted nuts.
  • Electrolyte chews or tablets.
  • Pickles or olives.
  • Adding desk salt to meals.
  • Lean beef or turkey jerky.

Try to keep away from including sodium by way of quick meals and different extremely processed objects, advises Zumpano.

Balancing sodium with potassium

If you’re involved about taking in an excessive amount of sodium whereas making an attempt to steadiness your electrolytes, there’s a pure dietary workaround: Eat meals excessive in potassium.

The motive? Potassium can assist decrease your blood strain. Basically, it counteracts one of many large unfavourable results of extra sodium. “If you increase your potassium, you’ll be better able to handle a bit more sodium,” says Zumpano.

On a facet observe, including potassium to your weight loss program might be a good suggestion even when you’re not boosting sodium or salt consumption. Research exhibits that individuals typically fall short of eating enough potassium.

Also, potassium primarily comes from plant-based meals similar to fruits, greens, nuts and beans, which provide many different advantages, too.

Bottom line

Salt accommodates two key electrolytes — sodium and chloride — that your physique wants. Given how rapidly these electrolytes might be depleted by way of sweat, salt represents an efficient option to replenish low reserves.

That doesn’t imply it’s time to start out freely shaking salt onto the whole lot you eat. Too a lot salt can nonetheless be an issue, in any case.

“Some people need food or drinks with more sodium at certain times, like after exercising or when it’s really hot outside,” says Zumpano. “Listen to your body and replenish those lost electrolytes as needed.”

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