SODIUM FOR DUMMIES

Now and then we hear about how we should reduce our sodium intake in order to prevent diseases as we grow older. But despite popular belief, the main contributor to unhealthy levels in your system is not the salt you put on your food, but the salt that’s already in it. Instant meals, cured meats, prepared foods… these are the real culprits. Allow me to help sprinkle out some truth about sodium. By Diego Gonzalez

Sodium in Your Body
Sodium is one of the body’s major electrolytes that controls the fluid amounts in the body. It prevents dehydration. We only need about 2,000mg per day, yet our regular diet contains far more than this.

Sodium and Your Health
Kidneys work as a blood filter. A high-sodium diet will disrupt this balance, causing less water to be filtered, therefore elevating the pressure in blood. First risk: high-blood pressure.

As high-blood pressure keeps overworking the kidneys, they will start failing which will bring heart failure, along with pulmonary edema: water in your lungs. People of African-American and South-Asian descent are 3 to 5 times more likely to suffer than Caucasians.

Sodium in Your Diet
But how much sodium are you eating now? A regular raw cup of rice needs one teaspoon of salt (1,700mg), and it would be enough for 4 portions, so 400mg each. Soy sauce per teaspoon is 900mg.

And the King of Sodium? Instant noodles with a whopping 1,200mg of sodium in just half a serving. But how many times have you eaten a half serving of noodles? So you’re really getting 2,400mg per bowl!

Other high-sodium products in our pantry: bacon (1,500 to 2,000mg), cheese (500 to 900mg), wheat or whole wheat bread (250 to 600mg), tomato sauce (500 to 700mg), cereal (10 to 500mg), and the list keeps going.

Sodium in the Future
The idea is not to convince you to stop adding salt to your food. The idea is to create awareness, so you decide whether or not to look at the Nutritional Facts in your food. The average person in Canada eats around 3,400mg per day. That is more than double the lower limit we are supposed to consume.

The future may look promising. Tokyo University is developing the Electro Fork, which will send small electric shocks to your tongue that can stimulate your taste buds and simulate the salt flavor, lowering your need to eat salt.

But before you have the Electro Fork, you can start reducing your sodium intake gradually. The guidelines are: choose products with 300mg of sodium or less, the lower the better. Use less salt, buy low-sodium products (soy sauce, canned fish, ham), and please try to avoid instant meals. Remember that a small step here will take you a long way in the future.

Now for this strange video we found demonstrating the ElectroFork: