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Sodium and potassium are two essential key minerals. Both make the body environment alkaline. But these two minerals need to be balanced as well. The ideal sodium-potassium ratio is less than 1:1, meaning you need slightly more potassium than sodium. But most people today consume far too much sodium.
Types of salt
Salt is the main source of sodium in the diet. Refined salt, also known as common salt, is 99.9 percent sodium chloride. This salt is highly unnatural and harmful. Healthy options include natural sea salt and rock salt, which contain about 95 percent sodium chloride, along with potassium chloride and up to over 80 different mineral salts.
Why we consume so much salt?
An average adult needs only about 2g of salt daily. Yet many people exceed 5g, often without even realizing that they consume so much.
There are two main reasons for this:
- Many people have grown accustomed to a strong sally taste, such that sally foods taste "abnormal" to them. This is mainly due to eating establishments using plenty of salt to mask the taste of poor quality food ingredients;
- Salt is often "hidden" in processed foods. Even sweet foods like candy and soda drinks Contain salt. When processed foods like luncheon meat, sausages and potato chips taste salty, the salt content is truly excessive.
Benefits of a healthy sodium: potassium ratio
A healthy sodium : potassium ratio is also necessary for normal cell function as well as fluid and electrolytes balance. It will lower your risk of developing disorders like stroke, kidney stones, osteoporosis, gastrointestinal-tract cancers and asthma.
Ensuring an optimal sodium: potassium ratio
The best way to ensure an optimal sodium: potassium ratio is to reduce your salt intake and eat plenty of vegetables and fruits. You should also:
Retrain your taste buds to get accustomed to a less salty taste. Go totally without salt for about two weeks. Initially you will find your food bland but soon, you will find that even very lightly salted foods start to taste salty;
Be mindful about "automatically" sprinkling salt onto your food or dipping your food in soy sauce. Taste your food first before doing so;
Avoid processed and packaged foods. Eat mainly fresh foods;
Eat more home-cooked meals, where you can control the amount and the quality of salt used.
Omega-6 promotes inflammation while omega-3 curbs inflammation. The two fatty acids need to be balanced in the ratio 1:1.
Inflammation itself is not a bad thing. When you incur injuries and infections, inflammation signals the body to heal the problems. Once the healing is done, omega-3 is needed to stop the inflammation. Otherwise, you will develop chronic inflammation, which is the root cause of most modern ailments.
Achieving a healthy Omega-6: Omega-3 ratio
Polyunsaturated vegetable cooking oils are the single biggest source of omega-6 in the modern diet. Their regular use has greatly increased the omega-6: omega-3 ratio to as high as 30:1. To return to a healthy ratio, stop using all polyunsaturated vegetable cooking oils such as corn, soy, sunflower and safflower.
In addition, eat foods that are rich in omega-3, like free-range chicken eggs, wild, fatty deep sea fish and seafood like salmon, sardines, mackerel and krill, and grass-fed beef. Most salmon today are farmed and do not contain much omega-3.
This content is adapted, with permission, from Book 1 of 2 : The Wonders of Nutrition by Dr Ang Poon Liat. MBBS, M.MED (PAED), MRCP (UK PAED), FAMS, MD.