Like many other nutrients, sodium has been blamed for today’s many health problems of which the most well-known one is high blood pressure. While excessive intake of any nutrient is harmful, it needs to be considered in the context of overall diet and lifestyle.
Current maximum recommended sodium intake set by the World Health Organization is 2 grams/day, with intake over 4 grams/day showing negative health effects. Sodium intake will vary depending on your size, how much you sweat throughout the day, the composition of your sweat, etc.
One of the main issues lies in sodium consumption relative to potassium intake. Studies are showing protective effects of potassium intake on high sodium intakes and blood pressure. In other words, if you are consuming a lot of sodium, make sure that is coupled with appropriate potassium intake.
In today’s world, it is estimated that people consume twice as much sodium as potassium. Since the optimal ratio of potassium to sodium is around 5:1, most people are consuming way too much sodium and not enough potassium.
There are a couple of ways to improve sodium to potassium ratio and improve your health:
- Avoid foods with high sodium content like animal-based products and processed foods;
- Increase intake of high potassium content foods like bananas, potatoes, broccoli;
- Instead of using regular sodium chloride salt, opt for sodium and potassium chloride salt;
Going to the opposite extreme and having too little sodium in your diet can cause other issues:
- Iodine deficiency which can negatively impact thyroid;
- Increased hunger and thereby making diet harder;