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Ham Radio vs Tasty Ham Part II

So we covered the basics of radio waves.  Now for the tastee treats! Jamon!

Now pork itself.  Let’s assume you’ve cooked it properly so you’re not dealing with bacteria/worms that raw meat in general boasts. 

The good?  If you trim the fat off of the pork (or really any other meat) and cook it without adding all of the sodium filled sauces or fatty oils - you actually end up with a low sodium, high protein meat.  Pork has vitamins such as iron, zinc, some of the B group vitamins, selenium and phosphorus.

However, processed pork (meats in general) can lead to products with a lot of sodium and fat - sausage, ham, hot dogs, etc.  Baseball games notwithstanding …we all know the risks of fat.  But do we know the risks of sodium? 

What the public knows:

The medical community has reached a consensus that diets high in sodium are a major cause of high blood pressure as well as pre-hypertension, or blood pressure just short of high blood pressure.  And from there - you get an increased risk of heart attack or stroke. 

The Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Health and Human Services and the World Health Organization recommend lowering daily sodium intake to no more than 2,300 mg for healthy adults and less than 1,500 mg for those who have high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney disease, or are middle aged and older.

How much does the average person consume?

So. According to researchers, the best way to determine salt intake is by measuring sodium content in urine samples.  A number of studies were conducted by different individuals on the amount of salt consumption.  The results may surprise you:

  1. McCarron led a 2009 study that analyzed urine samples in 19,151 people in 33 countries over a 24-year period. The average daily sodium intake was 3,726 milligrams a day, even across diverse populations and diets, and with no evidence of change over time.
  2. In a 12-year study of more than 13,000 people from Switzerland, also published in 2009, people averaged around 3,680 milligrams a day. 
  3. 38 studies from 1957 to 2003 were analyzed.  Researchers estimated a mean (± SE) 24-h urine sodium excretion per person of 3526 ± 75 mg Na.  In a multivariate random-effects model with study year, sex, age, and race, the study year was not associated with any significant change in sodium excretions.  There was no significant temporal trend seen in male, female, black, or white study participants.

So over many decades, we haven’t really changed the amount of sodium intake - it still averages around 3600mg sodium per day.

Where is all of that sodium coming from?

Keeping in mind that one teaspoon of salt is 2400 milligrams of salt…

If you think of that teaspoon as being part of the 11% (from cooking and eating)….

What does sodium do in the body?

So before we decry sodium, we need to know what it actually does.  

  • Helps maintain the right balance of fluids in your body

    Decreases in blood pressure (maybe from not having enough fluids on board) stimulate the production of renin, a hormone which stimulates the generation of aldosterone, another hormone which stimulates absorption of sodium so it’s not peed out in urine.  As sensors can tell that sodium levels are increasing, the body generates antidiuretic hormone to stimulate the retention of water (osmosis via concentration gradients) to match that sodium intake.  This helps restore the body’s total amount of fluid.

    There is also a counterbalancing system, which senses volume.  As fluid is retained, receptors in the heart and vessels which sense distension and pressure, cause production of atrial natriuretic peptide.  This hormone causes the body to lose sodium in the urine.  This causes the body’s osmotic balance to drop (as low concentration of sodium is sensed directly), which in turn causes the osmoregulation system to excrete the “excess” water. The net effect is to return the body’s total fluid levels back toward normal. 

    One way to think about it is that the water follows the salt.

    • Helps transmit nerve impulses

      Sodium ions (Na+) are extremely important in neuron (brain and nerve) function.  Neurons (brain cells) work by sending electrical impulses called action potentials along their bodies which cause transmitting channels to release hormones.  Those hormones then go on to affect our body.  These action potentials are instigated and propagated by sodium ion channels allowing sodium ions to form an electrochemical gradient causing more channels to open and greater electrical currents to be produced. 

      Normally there is more sodium outside a cell than inside.  However, with low sodium, suddenly the inside of a cell has more “stuff” (solute) than the outside and water will rush into the cells to match it.  This leads to fluid overloaded cells.  A long story made short, without sodium, your brain wouldn’t function.  And indeed, low sodium levels in our bodies lead to headaches, confusion, hallucination, even comas.

      • Influences the contraction and relaxation of muscles

        Muscles also use action potentials to cause other ions such as calcium, potassium, and sodium to allow muscle movement.  So without enough sodium, restlessness, muscle weakness, spasms, cramps, fatigue are all potential symptoms.

        How does sodium actually do it?

        Funny you should ask, there’s actually a bit of debate as to /how/ sodium actually causes a healthy body to become unhealthy.  My initial hypothesis from the scanning I’ve done is that if you’re healthy and not dealing with hypertension/diabetes/kidney disease - your sodium intake won’t affect much.  But!  If you start having high blood pressure or kidney issues, sodium makes you tank almost faster than anything else. 

        Next post for more information reasoning behind this, and maybe even some correction on my hypothesis (if I can find reason for it).


        Filed under ham sodium hyponatremia low sodium average salt consumption how is sodium bad symptoms of low sodium

        1. tymkrs posted this