(NaturalNews) With the exception of people who toss a pinch of salt over their shoulder for luck, sodium is typically associated with anything but good fortune. Individuals are often warned to cut back on it, if not avoid it altogether. Not only is voluntarily adding salt to meals frowned upon, but so too is eating foods that that are already rich in sodium content such as yeast extract paste and certain cheeses. Especially for those with high blood pressure, it's advised to reduce sodium intake.
However, while intake varies by each individual, researchers are suggesting people be cautious of getting too little salt. Not enough, they say, can throw the body out of whack and lead to detrimental health risks. For example, researchers at the University of Ontario, Canada, studied over 28,000 people for seven years and found that when sodium levels in urine were too low, people faced an increased risk for developing congestive heart failure and cardiovascular death. While these people already were at an elevated risk of heart disease at the onset of the study, scientists maintain that not enough salt can lead to serious health consequences more quickly.
Another study examined high blood pressure groups in New York City for eight years and found those on low-salt diets had more than four times as many heart attacks as those on normal-sodium diets. Numerous other studies around the world yield similar findings.
In addition to heart problems, scientists also explain that not consuming enough salt can wreak havoc on the body by causing everything from muscle cramps and nausea to headaches and fatigue.
Rather than avoid salt like the plague, consider the role it plays in keeping the system running properly.
Reasons why salt benefits the body
1) Digestive health: salt activates taste buds as well as breaks down food. It also is responsible for making hydrochloric acid, a digestive secretion which lines the stomach walls.
2) Keeps electrolyte levels balanced: the body needs electrolytes, minerals that primarily affect muscle function. Electrolytes are made up of sodium, among other minerals like calcium and potassium. When the body does not have adequate amounts of salt in the body, electrolyte levels are thrown off, upsetting the tissue-water and blood-acid balance. In some instances, sodium deficiency can lead to shock.
3) Blood pressure control: no, that's not a misprint. Although it seems contrary to what most people hear, sodium is used by the body to control blood pressure. Fact is, the body needs sodium to function optimally.
The National Academy of Sciences recommends that Americans consume a minimum of 500 mg/day of sodium to maintain good health, however that varies by individual. The key is to not engage in either extreme excess or too little consumption of salt, or anything ingested for that matter.
What's that phrase about "everything in moderation?"
About the author: Raw Michelle is a natural health blogger and researcher, sharing her passions with others, using the Internet as her medium. She discusses topics in a straight forward way in hopes to help people from all walks of life achieve optimal health and well-being. She has authored and published hundreds of articles on topics such as the raw food diet and green living in general.