I’m not sure if anyone is following these forums anymore, but I wanted to share my recent experiences with salt.
In many ways, over the last year, I followed mainstream nutritional advice in terms of cutting calories and limiting fat intake, and this helped me lose about 50 pounds of unwanted weight. However, I never really bothered to look at my sodium intake. About a week ago, I decided to test a low-sodium diet (about 1500 mg) on myself to see how it made me feel. The result? I was practically bed-ridden with fatigue and malaise within two days. I felt totally stressed out and couldn’t get any work done. I made the best of it by rewatching two seasons of the Wire, but even Omar and Det. McNulty could do little to alleviate my misery.
After 3-4 days, I closed up shop and went back to my usual high-sodium intake, which is I what I would naturally choose based on taste. I started feeling better almost immediately, but it took a couple of days to get back to feeling normal. The difference was so obvious that there is absolutely no question that (for me at least) salt is important for my sense of well-being.
Sometimes our dietary preferences can deceive us, such as when they cause us to eat ourselves to a state of obesity, but it seems to me that the taste for salt is based on a real physiological need. So if salting oatmeal improves the taste, and it certainly does for me, then I would go ahead and salt it. In fact, I think that overeating may in some cases be caused by undersalting. If your body needs x grams of sodium to function normally, it makes sense that you’re going to keep eating until you get those x grams, regardless of calorie load.
People who have dealt with certain kinds of chronic illness or stress may have a higher than average need for sodium. I think I’m one of them. Based on taste alone, I am a salt fanatic, and I plan to eat as much as I want without worrying about it. I even tried salting my coffee this morning, and the blended flavor of bitter, sweet, and salty was amazing, sort of like caramel. Not to mention, the caffeine rush was milder and more enjoyable than it sometimes is, which might be because the salt is muting the stress response. That’s conjectural, but if fits with the observation that salt blunts the output of the adrenal glands. Tonight I plan to try a salted beer, which I understand used to be a common practice.
All that being said, I wouldn’t force yourself to eat salt if tastes unpleasant. Excess sodium intake could lead to bloating if you overload your kidneys. But as long as it tastes good, and you don’t notice any negative effects, I don’t think there’s any reason to limit yourself. The research on sodium is highly contradictory, and a low-sodium diet only seems indicated for sensitive individuals with specific health conditions.
- This reply was modified 8 years, 3 months ago by David. Reason: typos