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The Lost Shaker of Salt: How Much Do We Need?

By Stephen R. Farris

Remember when you were growing up and sat down with the family for the evening meal? The food smelled so great and looked delicious. You took that first bite and thought to yourself, "it needs just a little more seasoning." You reach for the pepper, sprinkle a few dashes then pick up the salt shaker and add a little to your meal. However, there's your mom or grandmother looking straight at you and saying, "that's enough salt now!"

While they may have been thinking that all the food had just the right amount of seasoning when they were cooking it, or it was something they had heard throughout their lives and felt compelled to tell you the same, they were thinking about your health. Just how much salt in our daily diet is too much and how much is not enough? It's something we struggle with on a daily basis, especially if you are watching what your calories, eating heart smart and trying your best to eat in a healthier manner.

The bottom line is that salt is essential for our bodies to function properly. But too much salt can lead to CVD (cardiovascular disease) and too little can put us at risk for norepinephrine, that causes one's heart to beat more rapidly due to low blood pressure, especially when standing up. However, salt is needed to help regulate balanced kidney function. All of this can be very confusing when it comes to maintaining a healthier lifestyle.

So Now What?

Studies indicate that normal salt intake should be right around 1,500 milligrams per day. If you exercise, you can add another 300 mg for each hour. That's per one hour of exercise and not an hour throughout the day.

Balancing the Salt Shaker

Balance, moderation, however you want to see it is the best way to ensure that you're getting enough salt in your diet without overdoing it. Cutting back on eating at restaurants and fast food joints helps considerably, since they tend to use higher amounts of salt in their preparation and cooking. Processed foods you buy at the grocery store usually contain high amounts of sodium as well. The best choice is to buy fresh foods from the store and cooking at home. At home you can regulate in person just how much salt goes into the preparation of your food. 

So maybe there was some truth in what Mom and Grandma said after all.

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Rockford, Ill.

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