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Our body’s reaction to sodium

When we consume excess sodium, blood pressure increases in an effort to rid the body of excess sodium and fluid. The kidneys filter out the sodium we don’t need and we excrete it in urine.

When the kidneys aren’t functioning optimally, we accumulate sodium and fluid. This means swelling.


If we consistently consume lots of salt-laden food, blood pressure stays elevated. This means the heart and vessels must work harder. Extra pressure can weaken vessels and cause vessel injury, leading to atherosclerosis and kidney disease.

Reducing sodium intake to less than 2,400 mg per day can decrease blood pressure by up to 8 points. If plenty of mineral-rich plant foods are consumed as well, this might reduce pressure nearly 14 points more.

For someone who’s already been diagnosed with hypertension at 155/105, the 8 to 14 point deduction won’t make a huge difference. However, for a pre-hypertensive person (say, 130/80), a 14-point drop can move someone from “risky” to “pretty good”.

When you factor in regular exercise, a lean body, and minimal alcohol – blood pressure can drop by up to 47 points!
Can we really say salt is to blame for the countless cases of high blood pressure? I don’t know.

High blood pressure may instead be secondary to processed food intake (which have lots of salt), obesity, no exercise, high alcohol intake, low veggie/fruit intake, etc. Some experts theorize that refined carbohydrates play a major role in high blood pressure.

When we consume more plant foods with potassium, sodium excretion via the urine may increase. This may be the main reason behind a nutrient-rich diet regulating blood pressure, preserving bones and preventing kidney stones. And speaking of bone preservation, consuming excess sodium increases calcium loss in the urine.

What you should know about sodium


In animals that are herbivores, the desire for sodium increases in the spring and summer. Why? Because plants consumed in the warmer months are high in potassium and water, driving sodium consumption.

Only herbivores crave salt, while carnivores ignore it. This seems to be an important survival mechanism since herbivorous diets lack sodium and carnivorous diets contain ample amounts from flesh and body fluids.


Sodium intake might contribute to obesity, either indirectly or directly via the consumption of processed foods and sweetened, carbonated drinks.

Per capita use of salt increased 55% from 1983 to 1998. Per capita use of sweetened, carbonated soft drinks during the same period increased 45%.
Just a small increase in serum sodium levels can trigger thirst.

A daily excess sodium intake of 3266 mg must be accompanied by a 1 liter increase in water intake to maintain normal sodium concentrations. Ever been really thirsty after Thanksgiving dinner or the Hanukkah buffet? Me too.

Under normal North American circumstances, sweating accounts for about a 58 mg sodium loss each day. If you factor in urine losses, tack on another 180 mg.

If you sweat more than typical North American, you probably lose more sodium. The amount depends on diet, hydration status, and heat acclimatization. Active individuals can lose 800 mg or more of sodium per liter of sweat, making replacement vital.

Without replacement, low blood sodium levels can result. This means cramps, confusion, nausea and disorientation – kind of like a booze bender.

Summary and recommendations

If you consume unprocessed/whole foods, you won’t get sodium levels anywhere near the danger zone.

The people over-consuming sodium are eating processed foods, like microwave meals, canned foods, restaurant food, snack foods, processed meats, dairy, deli meats, frozen meats, cottage cheese and yogurt. If you eat a diet based on processed foods, you’ll probably have high blood pressure and high body fat.

If you eat a diet based on unprocessed and whole foods, sprinkling some salt on your veggies or rice for flavor is fine. Lean and healthy can easily regulate slight increases in salt.

In fact, if you eat a very unprocessed diet and stay physically active, you’ll want to drink electrolyte-rich fluids before, during and after workouts.

For extra credit

Consuming food with lots of salt is linked to stomach cancer, GERD and ulcers.

Early taste experiences with salt can influence lifelong preferences for certain foods.

In July 2009, the Center for Science in the Public Interest sued Denny’s over “dangerously high levels of sodium in its meals.”
Sea salt is produced by evaporation of sea water.

Some people may inherit a “sodium sensitivity.”

Roman soldiers received a salt ration as part of their pay, known as “salarium argentum,” from which the English word for “salary” was derived.

Salt is the muscle behind flour in bread. Salt strengthens gluten in the dough, allowing it to expand. Salt free breads tend to be more compact and dense.

“Take it with a grain of salt” is a well-known phrase that conveys the thought to not take something too seriously.

In those with cystic fibrosis, sodium content of sweat is high.

The ancient Chinese built the first salt empire.

In 1930, Gandhi led a 240 mile march to the sea to make salt, defying a British ban.

Activation of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system kicks in with a consistent low sodium intake (less than 200 mg/day) and increases the retention of sodium and water. 1200 mg of sodium per day suppresses this system.

Dried seaweeds such as kelp and dulse can be used as salt substitutes. They’re also high in beneficial minerals.

Support group meetings, what's holding you back?

So often someone will say to me, “I'd really like to go to a support group, BUT..."
“I really need to talk to someone who understands what I’m going through, BUT..."
“It would really be nice to spend time with other adults, BUT..."
“I feel so alone in what I'm going through, BUT..."

What's holding them back?
The same thing that holds all of us back: Fear. Fear of the unknown, fear that we don't belong. Fear that we will say or do the wrong thing. Fear we won't know the right answers. Fear that we might have to talk in front of other people. Fear that someone might see what a mess we really are. BUT… What if I go and I hear that others are having the same experiences as I am? What if I learn new things to try or share some of my own ideas? What if we don't talk about disabilities at all, we just support each other? What if I laugh or enjoy myself? What if I feel like I'm understood?
So I ask you, what’s holding you back?
 - Andrea Wright

Walberg Family Donation

Walberg Family Foundation Donates $15,557 To Area Charities From Steeler Softball Game Hempfield Township — Recently, Walberg Family Foundation, under the leadership of Brenton and Stacey Walberg (front row, far right), hosted a charity softball game with members of the Greenville community playing against several players from the Pittsburgh Steelers. As a result, the fundraiser collected $15,557.23 for area community outreach organizations, including — (in no particular order) Brandy Springs Park, the Greenville Area Soccer Association, Stegkamper Family Organ Donor Awareness Sponsorship, Club Pet Adoption, Capable Families, the United Way of Mercer County, Downtown Ministries, Community Counseling Center of Mercer County, Project Restore at Bethel Life Worship Center, The Kindness Kampaign, as well as Jacey Lewis and Misty Henry of Walberg Family Pharmacies. Holly Patterson/R-A.

Veterans' Support

CCC has a representative on the Mercer County Veterans Court Team.
Several therapists have sought specialized training to treat veterans in our outpatient programs for both mental health and substance abuse concerns. Veterans who have mental health concerns that impact employment may seek assistance from our vocational services staff.
Thank a veteran today and often for your freedom!

Stamp Out Stigma (SOS)

CCC has conducted or facilitated 93 presentations for over 117,168 persons on the Stamp Out Stigma (SOS) campaign to educate the public about the prevalence of behavioral health illnesses, reduce the stigma about these illnesses, and to encourage people to seek treatment if they face any of these challenges.   

We have 60 years of experience in helping people and the longest history of saving lives. To improve your life, schedule an appointment today.

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