Another Big Lie From Big Pharma: The Truth About Sodium
It’s a hot, sunny Monday as I am sitting here writing this. The shed, aka my office, is slowly ticking up to that 100-degree mark and will most likely crack the 110-degree mark by the time I finish my work for the day.
I suppose that is appropriate for this article in a series that seems to be developing about the ‘lies of the establishment’ when it comes to your health. Why is it appropriate that I am sweating like a nun in Tijuana? Because with sweat, comes a lot of sodium excretion.
Which, by the way, makes it damn near impossible to have Dax and Mateena around when I am doing pushups outside because all they want to do is lick the salty-sweat off of my head. But anyway...
Sodium is perhaps as misunderstood as cholesterol, the topic of my last article in this series.
If you ask any mainstream doctor or the doctors on television, they will tell you to keep sodium low. Sodium, after all, makes your blood pressure become high.
Not so fast!
You’ve been lied to once again and this one is just as harmful as any lie that the establishment has put out there. I too, was in the dark and misguided for quite some time when I nearly killed myself after one of my first bodybuilding shows. I cut sodium extremely drastically as well as cutting my water. Two days after the show I was up 40 pounds and was sporting a very nice pair of cankles (that’s when your calves seem to turn right into your ankles).
I remember literally hearing my heart beat and feeling each beat reverberate through my body wondering if my heart was just going to stop. I had artificially created an extremely stressful situation for my heart in terms of blood volume.
And then I found my first Coach, Scott Abel.
If there was such a thing as a PHd in bodybuilding, Scott would have been the first one to attain it. One of the first things he did was to send me over an article and some research he had done on sodium and that literally changed the advice I would forever give to clients as well as how I would approach my own sodium and water intake.
Without further ado, here we go.
In ancient times, sodium was a precious nutrient. Have you ever heard the saying "He or she is the salt of the earth?" Well, it’s been around for quite a while and it means that the said person is simply great. If sodium or salt were so bad for us, why would we use that phrase? It’s because that it’s not bad for us, in fact it is critical for us and that phrase has been around long before the retailers and pharma doctors started pushing the low sodium agenda.
Just like the low-fat craze, the low sodium craze started as a commercial movement to sell different foods and snacks to us, the consumer. Forget about the fact that there was no research to back up that low sodium was actually a good thing, people believed it, rather than looking into the scientific facts.
Sodium is responsible for regulating blood volume and blood pressure.
And in case you didn’t read it, dangerously high blood pressure is caused by a response to too high of insulin levels (i.e. consuming too many simple carbs, or carbs in general).
We want blood pressure to be strong. Think of your little, old aunt, the one that doesn’t move all that much and doesn’t eat all that much and it looks as if the wind could knock her over. She, my friend, has super low blood pressure. Is she what you would envision superior health to look like?
Now, with higher blood volume, we will increase oxygen in our blood, which will lead to a better performance in your sport or fitness routine and it will help to remove ‘fatigue toxins’ that have accumulated in your body.
With increased oxygen, you get better nutrient delivery.
Each cell in our body has a sodium and potassium pump. Sodium and potassium are tightly regulated, for every change in sodium, there has to a change in potassium. That sodium and potassium pump is metabolically costly, meaning that when it is humming along like a Hummer, it will be a boost to your metabolic rate. If, however, we cut sodium or constantly have a low sodium intake, then those pumps aren’t going to be as active and resting metabolic rate drops to conserve energy.
This thermostatic adjustment of your metabolism is governed by your thyroid hormones which get the feedback as to how much sodium is within each cell. Is it crazy for me to think that many of these so-called hypothyroidism cases aren’t true hypothyroidism, but rather a big lack of sodium within the diet?
Mind you, females are mainly taught to keep sodium low because they are told that sodium will cause water retention, again, a big sham put out there by the ‘Spin Doctors’. Don’t worry, I am getting to the myth of water retention in a few paragraphs.
But another word on the thyroid before I move on.
I can say with conviction that true hypothyroidism cases are rare, just as are true hypogonadism cases in men (low testosterone). Rather, these are often symptoms. All hormones of the body are regulated by the big three: estrogen, cortisol and insulin.
If you have a hormonal issue, looks to one of those three to address the real root cause. For example, cortisol would be the issue with thyroid and cortisol can become out of hand if we can’t get to a parasympathetic state, especially when in today’s society we are always in a sympathetic state of freeze, flight or fight. Add to that a lack of sodium, which will cause a reduction in potassium, which will lead to a poor connection so to speak to the vagus nerve and wa-la, you see my point?
If we really try and continue to keep sodium low, then potassium will actually exit the cell to try and maintain the balance in and around the cell of potassium to sodium. When we reach that stage, we start to see something interesting: Potassium is totally dependent on sodium to be effective for a number of reasons. Potassium is in charge of the regulation and control of the skeletal and cardiac muscles. Our heart (cardiac muscle) is run by the vagus nerve.
The vagus nerve is the one that is responsible for getting us to parasympathetic, aka a state of rest, relaxation and proper digestion. The vagus nerve is the one that we try to ‘turn on’ by deep belly breathing and it’s the exhale through the mouth that is very effective at this.
As an aside, that’s why humming and ‘mmmm’ chants by the monks as well as deep belly breathing in yoga and meditation have been used for thousands of years; it relaxes the mind and nervous system which will lead to less inhibition which will lead to a door way for the spiritual realm.
I am willing to bet that you have a high level of stress or stubborn body fat that is a pain in the ass to try and lose, both of which can only be dealt with properly through an activation of the parasympathetic nervous system, which as you can see, can’t fully happen if sodium is low.
Allow me stay on the topic of potassium a bit longer. Potassium outside of the cell will cause weakness, cramps, listlessness and lethargy. I know a boat load of people that complain of those things regularly and they seem to be getting decent sleep.
You may also be asking at this point why I know so much about sodium.
Well, I already told you about my former Coach, Scott Abel’s influence, but in addition to that, I have had to learn the art of sodium and the effects on the body because of having to do quite a bit of ‘weight cuts’ with various athletes ranging from powerlifters, MMA fighters, wrestlers and of course bodybuilding, both myself and Newell Strength clients.
One common thing that you will see with sodium and bodybuilding is that most coaches (with a little c) with instruct an elimination of sodium from the diet towards the end, kind of like the ‘spin doctors’, who are nothing more than pawns for the big pharma establishments, do to regular folk. Well, what happens is an increase in water retention and a flattening of the musculature (which if you aren’t a bodybuilder, it will also lead to poor performance in the gym and everyday life).
You see, water follows sodium. Read that again please!
When we restrict sodium, our body fights like hell to hold onto what it has and any various forms of sodium that do happen to make it into the body, the body will maintain. Sodium is critical as I already said for damn near every cellular function the body. Now do you see why I told you to read that line again?
If water follow sodium, a retention of sodium will cause a retention of water, leading to a bloated appearance. Yes, when you reintroduce a high level of sodium, there will be a few days of higher water retention while your body adjusts and makes sure to stop sounding the alarms and that it will indeed continue to get adequate sodium in the diet.
If you need to lose water weight, you keep sodium high and water high.
Remember, your body will always maintain a balance of sodium and potassium, if it gets excess, it will excrete more and the more it excretes, the more water it will pull out of the body with it.
Water follow sodium because of the positive charge of sodium and the negative charge of water…
Now for a little hormone called ‘aldosterone’. This hormone causes water retention through a feedback mechanism of the kidneys. Aldosterone is released in times of dehydration and in times of stress. It seems like what I have always said about the body and brain having survival front and center seems to be correct in this case as well.
Ok, so how much sodium do we need.
Well, the bigger you are and the harder you train, the more you need. You first need to figure out how much water you need. A guy of my size (260 pounds) that trains hard needs at least 5-6 liters per day.
The rule of thumb is 2g of sodium per liter of water. For me that mean 10-12 grams of sodium per day!! Sodium is too important not to measure. People obsess over counting calories which is moronic and I used to peddle that bullsh** too, yet something that will impact and effect the body in a far more beneficial way and will also act on the hormonal system, such as sodium intake, is an afterthought.
We either pay it no mind or try to have a ‘spartan’ restriction on it.
A pickle contains a gram of sodium, and many canned foods contain sodium phosphate, which is another excellent source of sodium. Table salt is okay, but it’s only 40% sodium and 60% chloride.
Most of the white table salt is devoid of the micronutrients that the body needs. Pink Himalayan sea salt has over 75 micronutrients! Back to how much water to intake and then I’ll wrap it up.
Let’s keep it simple:
If you weigh 150 or lower, then go with roughly 3 liters of water per day.
If you are between 150-225, go with 3-5 liters of water per day.
If you are above 225 pounds, go with 5-6 liters of water per day
(assuming you sweat on a daily basis and are in a regular exercise program).
There you have it. Please share this with as many people as you can. This is stuff that is not public knowledge but that can change lives for the better.
I would boost it on the Newell Strength page but they block any of our ‘rebellious medical’ articles from being boosted. Think there is a link there? Facebook and big Pharma?