What does salt do to your brain?

What does salt do to your brain?

You’re very likely consuming more salt than you should every day.

The FDA has found that the average American ingests 3,400 mg of sodium per day – 1,100 mg more than the recommended amount.

In the past, high sodium intake has been linked to hypertension and heart problems. Now, a study done in Québec has brought attention to the effects of differing sodium levels on the brain.

In the study, the researchers examined the association between sodium intake and cognitive function in the brain. They found that low sodium intake corresponded with better cognitive function, predominantly in adults. As more and more people increase their sodium intake, the study concluded that this can have significant public health implications.

Dr. Andrew Gordon, a neurologist with Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, Ill. and Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington, Ill., says “sodium is important because sodium channels are involved in neuropathic pain, seizures and possibly migraines, as well.”

Since low or high levels of sodium have been seen to have a “profound and acute effect on brain and nervous system function,” it is imperative to maintain recommended sodium levels.

Dr. Gordon says over the past 30 years, researchers have recognized the importance of sodium function, and this has led to breakthroughs in advancing neurological treatments. In Dr. Gordon’s opinion, “this aspect of human biochemistry will continue to be important for future treatments, as well.”

The FDA offers the following tips for managing your sodium levels:

  1. Carefully read the sodium content on nutrition labels and plan your meals accordingly.
  2. Use herbs and spices to season your food rather than salt.
  3. Limit the consumption of high-sodium foods such as canned goods and processed foods.

Our body is our home, and we need to keep it healthy; say “Na” to salt, and you’ll help keep yourself healthy in the long run.

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3 Comments

  1. It’s hard to know how much 2,300 mg is. Examples would help. Such as a little more than one half ounce, or say a picture of 2300 mg.

    the security question asks to multiply dots times numbers which could yield two correct answers as the dots could represent a set or dots (one) or the number of dots(five) .

  2. USDA says it’s about one teaspoon. Is that level or ?- your guess is as good as mine.

  3. How can I purge my body of excess salt safely if I have too much.

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About the Author

Shvetali Thatte
Shvetali Thatte

Shvetali Thatte, a junior at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, is a remote Public Affairs and Marketing intern for Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, Ill. She spends her time by engaging in clubs and sports at school as well as volunteering at the hospital and nearby tutoring programs. She enjoys spending time with her friends, traveling, and reading. In the future, she hopes to pursue a career in medicine with a focus on public health.

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