Where is sodium found in foods
Bad Salt, Good Salt: The Top 5 Benefits Of Sodium For Runners
You may have been warned against eating too much table salt (sodium chloride) and foods containing sodium. You may even have been told to avoid sodium as best you can. The reason for this is that most people actually consume a lot of sodium. Research from Harvard’s School of Public Health shows: "Americans consume an average of 3,300 mg of sodium every day - about 75% of which comes from highly processed foods - but only 2900 mg of potassium a day." (01)
The dangers associated with too much sodium are to be taken seriously. They increase your risk of developing cardiovascular disease, water retention, cancer, osteoporosis, and other diseases. Nevertheless, these possible consequences should not be seen as a blanket recommendation to avoid sodium entirely. In fact: “A meta-analysis published in the American Journal of Hypertension of seven studies, which included a total of 6,250 subjects, could not provide convincing evidence that reduced salt consumption in people with normal or high blood pressure increased the risk of heart attacks or strokes to die lowers. "(02)
However, that doesn't mean that sodium is completely risk-free. There are numerous studies that show that many people consume too much sodium, which increases the risk of the disease. However, our body needs sodium in order to be able to work well - this is especially true for athletes and thus also for runners. On the other side of the spectrum, there's also sodium deficiency, a condition called hyponatremia, which is dangerous in its own right.
Hyponatremia is an imbalance in electrolytes that causes the following symptoms: (03)
- Digestive problems such as nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting
- a headache
- Lightheadedness and dizziness
- Muscle weakness
- Difficulty concentrating and disorientation
- Lack of energy, listlessness and tiredness - even if you have slept enough
- Mood swings and irritability
- Muscle pain and cramps
- In the elderly: Injuries and difficulty walking due to balance problems and feelings of weakness
- In particularly severe cases, if left untreated, brain swelling and seizures can occur, which can lead to a coma or even death.
These symptoms are of course particularly worrying for runners. You won't be able to beat your personal best if you have no energy, weak muscles, and digestive problems. In short, your body cannot work well without sodium, and it's important for runners to stay in top shape. Here are a few reasons why runners in particular need to get enough sodium.
5 reasons sodium is good for runners
1. Fluid balance
Sodium is essential to your body's water supply as it plays an important role in water absorption. Sodium is also proven to help athletes maintain increased blood volume, which regulates body temperature and heart rate during prolonged physical activity such as cycling. (04)
The Journal of Athletic Training also published a study that tested sodium replacement during high physical activity. She showed that "the intake of sodium during continued physical activity plays a significant role in preventing sodium loss, which can lead to hyponatremia if fluid intake equals sweat production." (05)
Cramps are a big issue for athletes; many runners often suffer from it. They are directly related to sodium, because "heat-induced cramps" occur when the body loses too much sodium during activity. If you keep an eye on your sodium levels, you can declare war on muscle spasms and your muscles will always remain operational. (06)
3. Transmission of nerve signals
I only recommend healthy sources of sodium, such as the sodium naturally found in whole foods. Sea salt is also a good idea, as is Himalayan pink salt. Sodium from these sources ensures that the brain, muscles, and nervous system function well. Sodium is necessary for electrical signals to be transmitted in the body. Too much or too little of it can upset your entire body and lead to dysfunction in the cells.
However, when your body's communications system is properly supplied with sodium and the correct electrical signals are sent to the brain, muscles, and nervous system, nerve signals will be transmitted well throughout the body. (07)
4. Natural sources of electrolytes
Sodium is itself an electrolyte. Healthy sources of sodium will help you get even more electrolytes, which are very important to your health. (08) Sodium, along with potassium, calcium and magnesium, helps keep your electrolyte levels in balance, which is essential for runners.
5. Improved athletic performance
All of the above factors, especially those related to water supply, electrolyte balance, and functioning muscles, make sodium an important part of an athlete's diet. (09) Studies published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism found: “Deliberate oversupply of water can be achieved through intensive sodium intake and has a positive effect on the body's hydration status and performance with continued physical exertion in the heat. "(10)
So sodium may have a bad rap, but the truth is that it is very important to the body. Yes, it's true: Too much sodium poses serious health risks, but too little sodium does too. This is especially true for runners and other athletes, as sodium is essential for a good water supply, as well as for the fluid and electrolyte balance. Without sodium, runners will be weak, dehydrated, and will have difficulty optimizing their performance.
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