Specialists usually advise limiting it. But we need it…
For decades, they told us to limit salt for the sake of our heart and blood pressure. But moderation and salt restriction are two different things. The campaign against salt is blurring the idea of what salt does for us.
Salt consists of sodium chloride. Sodium is an important mineral, “irreplaceable”, which means that we must consume it with food, as our body cannot synthesize it. Sodium performs many vital functions in the body.
What role does sodium play?
Sodium is an important macromineral that performs necessary functions in the body, including:
- Electrolyte balance;
- Balance of extracellular fluid volume;
- Blood pressure;
- Membrane potential;
- Nervous transmission;
- Muscle contraction;
- Cardiac and renal function;
- Absorption and transport of nutrients.
What happens when we don’t get the right salt?
When we lack salt, the brain increases sensitivity to the reward system. When we eat salt, it causes more pleasant sensations than usual, which leads to an increase in salt intake.
This internal reward system, designed to save our lives from salt deficiency, can inadvertently contribute to weight gain and even obesity.
How much salt do you need?
The National Academy of Medicine has set the daily norm of sodium for adults at 1500 mg per day. This amounts to 3.8 grams of sodium chloride (salt) per day, as sodium is about 40 % salt.
How Salt Deficiency affects Weight
Eating the salt your body craves can be a simple strategy to reduce your intake and perhaps even your need for sugar and refined carbohydrates.
A standard salt intake (about one and a half teaspoons of salt per day) can help maintain normal insulin levels.