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Crazy Minds and New Government Guidelines

Updated on April 29, 2011

New guidelines have just been released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services concerning sodium levels. Do they have crazy minds? They are promoting 1500 mg. of sodium for those 51 and older, African Americans, or those who have hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease. This is very hard for most people to do consistently----what are they thinking? The other 50% of Americans need 2300 mg. of sodium in their diet according to the guidelines.

Reaction to the new guidelines is mixed. The Salt Institute called them “drastic”, “simple”, and “baseless”---while the American Heart Association says they did not go far enough. In my opinion, there is no “one size fits all”. Your doctor should guide you to how much sodium your body needs.

I disagree that there are many people who need 1500 mg. of sodium or less of sodium. There are reports that the human body only needs 500mg. of sodium. While that may be true, some don’t tell the whole story about what can happen when your sodium levels drop that low.

I am not a doctor, nurse, nutritional expert, or someone who works in those fields. I can tell you about my own experience in lowering my sodium consumption to the 1200-1500mg range.

Keeping a food diary of the sodium content of my foods allowed me to lower my sodium levels. I do admit I went overboard at first. I was able to follow the 2000mg daily sodium diet with determination.My health problems were my motivation.

Luckily, I walked a treadmill daily and when my water weight disappeared, the walking kept my skin from sagging. I lost 8 lbs during the first 4 to 6 weeks but I looked as if I had lost 40. One day my sister-in-law remarked,” Wow, you shrank”. Remember my health issues were my motivation. What would make people without health problems stick to a low sodium diet?

Being of small statue (5ft. 1inch tall with small bones), I believed I needed to be in the lowest level that I could manage. I can only imagine what those levels might do to someone who is taller and big boned. Depression reared its ugly head when I went below the 1500mg. mark. As I was able to get closer to the 1200mg. of sodium daily, depression got worse but it was weeks before I realized the sodium levels could be the cause.

A discussion with my doctor confirmed my thoughts. His statement to me was that I was not doing myself any favor by consuming less than 2000mg of sodium daily. (I have a health problem that is aggravated by eating more salt than 2500mg.) a day. When I increased my sodium to the 1800mg.-2000mg. level, my depression went away and I could tell my health issues were being controlled.

In America, we are bombarded with salt overload in our processed foods and fast foods. The industries do need to lower the amount of salt put in our food; however, more than 25% to 35% lower would not be a good move in my opinion. I've noticed that whenever the companies decide to jump on the bandwagon of change, they all overdo it to the public’s dismay.

A study of rats conducted by Professor Alan Kim Johnson and colleagues from the University of Iowa found that when rats were deprived of salt, they behaved erratically, shunned food, and activities they normally enjoyed. This study was published in the peer-reviewed journal Physiology and Behavior.

Other studies have shown that a lack of sodium in the bodies of mammals triggers behavioral changes that can lead to higher sodium consumption. Cravings for salt can cause changes in the regions of the brain involving motivation reward, drug sensitization, and withdrawal. When persistent unsatisfied salt cravings in humans and animals were not met, behaviors similar to depression were present.

Most of us do need to lower the amount of salt we eat daily, but if we will under-size instead of oversize our portions this is a painless way of keeping our sodium in a comfortable range.


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    • anidae profile image

      Anita Adams 6 years ago from Tennessee

      Thanks for visiting, Springboard, and you are correct about no one size fits all. I agree with you about the doctor evaluation on each individual.

      Each of us has the right to make our own decisions about health and lifestyle.

    • Springboard profile image

      Springboard 6 years ago from Wisconsin

      I totally agree with you that there is no one size fits all to any of this stuff. It's a faraway example, but cigarettes, FOR example, do not kill people. They only kill CERTAIN people. One guy can smoke his entire life, live to the ripe old age of 90, and never once get a lung disease while another guy might smoke for 20 years and develop emphysema.

      Doctors should be the ones evaluating on a case by case basis the best interests of each patient.

      Enjoyed the hub.

    • anidae profile image

      Anita Adams 6 years ago from Tennessee

      RTallone, Thanks for your comments. I will check out your hub about the Celtic Sea Salt. I'm very interested in how to lower the sodium content in my foods.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 6 years ago from the short journey

      Very interesting, both the info and your personal experience. I am studying Celtic Sea Salt (have done a hub on it--may do more) and thought you might find a comparison of it and table salt interesting and possibly helpful. The info was surprising to me.

      Thanks for another well done hub. Voted up.