Salt, Part 7: Doctor Salt
The concentration of electrolytes in our system must be precisely maintained in order for our bodies to work. Sodium, along with potassium, are two of the most important electrolytes in our body, so not surprisingly our bodies have quite a few processes in place to ensure we always have the right electrolytic balance. If our bodies have an excess of salt, we feel thirsty and consume more liquids. The kidneys get the job of deciding how much of the water we drink should be retained and how much should be shed in order to maintain electrolytic balance. If we consume a lot of salt, a significant amount of water can be retained. Some of this retained fluid moves across the cellular boundary and causes puffy looking skin and hard to remove jewelry. Want to lose some weight fast? Cut back on the salt and start shedding excess water! At 6 pounds per gallon, this could get you down to fighting weight in less than no time! This is a favorite trick of the “wonder weight loss diets”. Fast results by cutting out salt, without actually losing any fat.
There is some debate over how much effect salt actually has on blood pressure, but one side effect of water retention triggered by excess salt is an increase in the volume of plasma in the blood stream, with a resultant increase in blood pressure. Over a sustained period of time, this can cause all sorts of problems. Interestingly, drinking very large amounts of water and eating no salt can cause your body to force sodium out of the cells and into the blood stream where it is removed by the kidneys. Eventually you die. Conversely, consuming large amounts of salt relative to the amount of water, like drinking seawater for example, causes the body to force water out of the cells and let sodium in, eventually causing you to die. Balance. It’s all about balance!