Let's just be honest, salt is good. As a matter of fact, it's damn good. No matter how bland your day is, you can always count on your friend Salt to liven things up by activating your taste buds and sending pleasure signals to your brain. With such a great companion at your side, why should you ever give it up? You shouldn't. Salt contains life-sustaining minerals--sodium and chloride--that your body uses to carry out major bodily functions.
Ok, but how does salt go from table to body? Glad you asked. Here's how:
Your body contains three types of muscle tissue--skeletal, cardiac, and smooth--that have a hand in supporting your posture, aiding in movement and digestion, and contracting your heartbeat, digestive tract, blood vessels and other tissues. For those three muscles to carry out these vital functions, they require minerals like sodium to tap into your nervous system. The nervous system communicates with your muscles through structures known as neuromuscular junctions. When nerves are activated by the electrolyte sodium, they send action potentials, or electrical signals, that trigger muscle contraction.
When salt touches your tongue, the salivary glands in your mouth trigger the production of salivary amylase, an enzyme that starts the digestive process by breaking down complex carbohydrates and converting them into simple sugars like glucose and maltose. Pancreatic enzymes, which work their way through a duct to reach your small intestine, complete the job of digesting carbohydrates. This takes care of carbohydrates, but not hard-to-digest proteins, which require a more powerful substance: stomach acid. Hydrogen and chloride found in salt combine to produce hydrochloric acid (HCL), an acid that activates pepsin, an enzyme that initiates protein digestion. The duo also help denature proteins so they can be more easily digested by various enzymes. As a bonus, HLC utilizes nutrients like B12 and magnesium to kill bacteria, fungi and yeast that cause infection.
Sunstroke is a form of heat exhaustion caused by your body's inability to regulate its temperature under continuous exposure to extremely high temperatures. It can result from salt depletion. With perspiration that occurs as a result of the exposure, comes loss of water and salt from the body. Putting salt back into your body can prevent sunstroke by restoring electrolytes.
A low-sodium diet--no more than 1,500 milligrams per day, but no less than 180 milligrams--will help you retain an acute mind by regulating cellular activity in your brain. As brain cells come into contact with sodium in the blood, ion pumps found within each cell allow sodium to flow in and out. Upon the influx of sodium electrolytes, the brain's nerve cells receive an electrical charge, which set off electrochemical nerve impulses critical to brain activity.