Volumes have been written about the benefits of drinking sufficient amounts of water to prevent dehydration, but did you know that unless your intake of sodium is adjusted to compensate for the increase in water consumption, you might actually be hurting yourself and even end up with hyponatremia - a condition that occurs when the level of sodium in your blood is abnormally low.
It does not help that popular antidepressants such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) have been associated with an increased risk of hyponatremia, but also medications such as diuretics, or drugs used to control hypertension/high blood pressure exacerbate the problem by causing increased urinary frequency that can result in additional loses of sodium.
For years we have been told to dramatically limit our sodium intake despite of numerous studies suggesting that not enough sodium is just as detrimental to our health as is having too much of it. According to a pooled analysis of data from four studies published online in The Lancet only a few days ago, high sodium intake is not associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular events and death in normotensive populations, "while the association of low sodium intake with increased risk of cardiovascular events and death is observed in those with or without hypertension. These data suggest that lowering sodium intake is best targeted at populations with hypertension who consume high sodium diets."
There have been objections to these findings, and the study was criticized however, like with everything else concerning our personal health, we need to take control and educate ourselves with regards to the pros and cons of various nutritional approaches based on our specific needs.
For healthy individuals, balance between adequate water and salt/sodium consumption seems to be the key.
Personally, I put on a hat of a researcher and do my own studies. My body is my lab. I control my sodium intake by avoiding most processed foods and use unrefined salt with its full complement of trace minerals. I also make a saturated salt solution called sole, and drink a teaspoon of it dissolved in a glass of artesian spring water, especially during, or post my riding/hiking/exercise sessions. In my experience, one of the obvious benefits of drinking sole is a total absence of muscle cramps even during long rides on very hot days. My riding buddies who tried this also reported positive results.
How I make and use the sole: Place 1 inch of salt crystals (Celtic Sea Salt, Himalayan Crystal Salt, Real Salt, etc) in a glass jar. Add 2 to 3 inches of good quality water above the crystals/stones. Let sit overnight. Continue adding salt until the solution becomes fully saturated and the crystals no longer dissolve in the water. Keep the jar covered to prevent evaporation and add water or salt as needed to keep the solution liquid and saturated. Add a teaspoon of the solution to a glass of spring water and drink on an empty stomach.
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