Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Sodium Poisoning:

A Salty Death
Way to Die Young #3: Shake it like a Salt Shaker

Can too much salt be deadly? Well, not directly. An overdose of salt won't kill you but the short term effects can be discomforting and the long term effects could play a part in a premature death.

There currently exists talk of regulating the amount of sodium in consumer food products. Many people are outraged by the notion. Others rejoice for the public initiative to take a more active role in our nation's health.

Surely all Americans should have the freedom to choose the foods they eat. But, do they? Does food transcend other consumer goods in the regard of ultimate freedom from regulation? If the government can regulate alcohol, tobacco and medicine all which are plant derivatives they should also be able to regulate processed and packaged foods which exist in an unnatural state. From the point we buy a packaged food at our local retailer we give up our freedom of choice. We have passed this freedom and responsibility on to the corporation and retailer from whom we bought the food.

Excess sodium (daily RDA ranges from 1,500-3000 mg) leads to high blood pressure. Over a period of time high blood pressure could lead to hypertension, stroke and even a heart attack.

Other notable side effects may include edema (fluid retention or bloating), cardiac enlargement, osteoporosis, gastric cancer, various ulcers, kidney stones, kidney failure and heartburn. Salty foods also increase the amount of total intake. That is if you eat salty foods you are prone to eat more than a normal amount. The salt stimulated increase in appetite leads to weight gain.

The problem with salt is that is behaves like a drug in regards to tolerance. The more salty foods a person eats the more they become tolerable to them. So you begin to crave saltier foods and require salt to enhance the flavor of foods that become bland because of your increased tolerance. However if you “quit” salt cold turkey you can make a full recovery. Normal foods will once again taste delicious without salty enhancements and you slowly crave salty foods less and less. Eventually the same salty foods which you once couldn't live without will be spit out in disgust. **[One serving of Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup contains 100% of your daily RDA of sodium.]

So should sodium or “salt” be regulated? Absolutely. The government isn't regulating consumer choice but instead corporate responsibility like they have for hundreds of years. Consider it a challenge for food companies to make great food without shortcuts but instead fresh, real ingredients.

The best solution for a low-sodium diet is to eat whole foods including fresh produce and unadulterated meats. You can eat all you want and never have to check a label for sodium content. And my government will never ban nature's abundant harvest.