Salt, Sleep, Stress, and Your Body

Ah, the three S’s-Salt, Sleep, and Stress. These three things all impact your health. I will break them down by category.

Salt: Our bodies need salt as an electrolyte*. Salt is an important component. Over consumption of salt causes our bodies to retain water. Water retention causes us to be heavy on the scale. You can hold more water weight than you’d think. Some people can hold 5 to 7 pounds worth of water. Have you ever given up salt for a period of time, then eaten something with salt in it? You feel swollen the next day, bloated, and full. The amount of salt we are eating nowadays is far above what we should consume. 2,000 mg  is a good target. If you look at most fast food places you can consume half your days worth of sodium in one meal! Processed foods are loaded with sodium. Especially frozen dinners, canned soups, and chips, etc…Maybe some of the extra weight you are holding is water weight. The people I know who are weight lifters for competition purposes give up extra salt as well as sugar. Over-consumption of salt also helps cellulite appear more pronounced. Excessive consumption can also negatively affect blood pressure.

“The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting sodium to less than 2,300 mg a day — or 1,500 mg if you’re age 51 or older, or if you have high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease,” Mayo Clinic.

*Electrolytes affect the amount of water in your body, the acidity of your blood (pH), your muscle function, and other important processes. You lose electrolytes when you sweat. You must replace them by drinking fluids, Medicine Plus.

Sleep: Inadequate sleep will sabotage your fitness goals and your health. Your body needs rest to function properly. When you don’t sleep your hormones become imbalanced. The hormones that control hunger and telling you when you are full cease to function properly. They are called ghrelin (tells you to eat/you’re hungry) and leptin (tells your brain you’re full). People begin to overeat when they are not sleeping well. Not only does the lack of sleep lead to overeating, lack of sleep leads to disruption of growth hormones. Growth hormones stimulates growth, cell reproduction and restoration.

“When you don’t get enough sleep, it drives leptin levels down, which means you don’t feel as satisfied after you eat. Lack of sleep also causes ghrelin levels to rise, which means your appetite is stimulated, so you want more food,” Dr. Breus tells WebMD,” How Sleep Affects Your Weight Loss article,

Lack of sleep also causes mental and emotional issues. Our bodies and minds require sleep. Most adults should aim for 6-8 hours of sleep. Children and teenagers require more sleep.

Stress: Ah, the dreaded stress word. Stress over long periods of time or extreme stress will cause your body to store fat. Yes, fat. A hormone called cortisol is released in fight or flight situations. Excessive amounts of cortisol increases the amount of  fat stored on your abdomen. It’s a contributing factor to abdominal fat. Look up cortisol and fat. Minimizing stress is good for your health. It’s good for your mind as well. Prolonged stress lowers the immune system response and is damaging all around. Stress also drives us to make poor choices with food. We reach for the items that are high in fat, sugar, and salt. All those choices cause us to eat more.  Stress is aggravated by lack of sleep, rest, and our poor food choices do not help us. Working out regularly, resting, and unplugging from social media, all help to reduce stress. I box/kick-box as a stress reliever or paint or take a walk outside or read. Managing stress levels is a key to healthy living.

As previously stated talk to your primary care doctor about any changes in diet or before starting an exercise program. I am simply sharing what I have learned, and I am not a physician. I am a Researcher & Engineer. Also, do some of your own research on stress, lack of sleep, and over-consumption of salt. Your doctor will be able to provide even more information, especially an endocrinologist. Wishing you the best on this journey to wellness. Best wishes friends.

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