Adding Salt to the Hydration Formula

Last week we took a deeper dive into the importance of water in the body, and how to figure out your very own Hydration Formula. Today we will look at the importance of salt in hydration. As a large percentage of our bodies consists of water, the role that salt plays in it becomes very important.

“Not only is blood mostly water, but the watery portion of blood, the plasma, has a concentration of salt and other ions that is remarkably similar to sea water.”[1]

Salt in the human body is involved in many different functions such as regulating blood pressure, muscle contraction, sending nerve impulses, and regulating the fine balance in the sodium-potassium pump. You can think of the sodium-potassium pump as a doorway in the surrounding cell wall (cell-membrane). It is critical for good cell function that this door is able to open and close whenever it needs to. When there is a dis-balance between sodium and potassium in the body the cell cannot get the nutrients or messages that it needs, and it is also becomes difficult to send anything out of the cell.

But, isn’t salt bad for you?
Yes and no. The salt that is bad for you is the type of salt that you will find in processed foods and your typical crisp white table salt. These salts have been highly refined and stripped of their beneficial minerals. They are often bleached to become extra white, and have added chemicals in them to keep them from clumping. These things are definitely not good for your health, and are something to stay away from. However, sea-salt such as pink Himalayan sea-salt acts very different to these processed salts.

Sea-salt is great for your body and we need it!
Did you know that…

SALT
-is a natural antihistamine
-is vital for the kidneys to clear excess acidity
-is essential for preserving the serotonin and melatonin levels in the brain
-is a vital element for diabetics through blood sugar regulation
-clears the lungs of mucus particularly in asthma [2]

We have become so scared of real sea-salt because we have been told for so long that salt (meaning processed salt) is bad for us. This has created a problem where people who care about what they eat are eating so “clean” that they more or less omit to eating salt. This is a very bad idea as it creates an imbalance in the body on a cellular level which can take on all sorts of expression. PhD Stacy Sims, who is a specialist in hydration says a common mistake she sees athletes make is drinking lots of water, but without the salt. It just makes you run to the bathroom all the time, because without the salt the body cannot absorb it, and even though your pee is clear you may be under-hydrated. [3]

The Salt Formula
Ok, so how much salt do I need then? According to Dr. Batmanghelidj, an expert on hydration, as a general rule you need at least 1.5g of sea-salt  for every quart of water (950ml) that you drink.[4] So, if we go back to our example of Ben from last week, who should drink 2.3 Liters of water on an average day. He should then add at least 3.6g of sea-salt to that amount of water. To give you an indication visually, 3g of sea-salt is roughly half a teaspoon of salt. Another thing worth mentioning is that if you are using a reverse Osmosis water filter you need to add even more, as the filter system is so good that it also clears out most of the minerals. Read more about that here.

The Salt Formula
 1.5g of sea-salt  *  your daily amount of water in Liter/quart (calculated from last week) = total amount of salt to add to your water

Maintaining the fine balance
Great, so now that you will start adding some good quality sea-salt to your water and food, it is also important to keep in mind the sodium-potassium balance. When you start adding salt you should also make sure that you are getting enough potassium, to keep that healthy balance. This is easy, and one of the best ways to do that is to eat plenty of veggies and fruits, such as avocado, spinach, beets, black beans, sweet potato and watermelon.

“Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all.”
-Nelson Mandela

Enjoy a salted, well hydrated weekend! 😉

 

P.S Check out this video if you want to nerd out some more on hydration, salt, VO2 output, blood volume and fatigue in athletes. FYI, sound quality is unfortunately not awesome .

Current Concepts and Thinking in Hydrating Athletes w/ Dr. Stacy Simms | Community MWod Video

 


[1]http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/21/science/21angi.html?mcubz=0

[2,4] F. Batmanghelidj, Your Body’s Many Cries For Water, Salt, pg 154-160.

[3] Dr. Kelly Starrett, Ready to Run, Hydration, pg 162.

Photo credit to Izzy Gerosa, Mira Bozhko, André Robillard, Roman Mager on Unsplash

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