Just like Yin and Yang, sodium and potassium work together to maintain a precision balance in your cells. While you find potaasium primarily inside the cells, sodium the other main electrolyte exist in the extracellular fluid. In this article, know all about the sodium-potassium balance and its implications on your health.

The Dynamic Duo of Sodium and Potassium

The sodium-potassium pump powers several bodily functions of your body including nerve cell signaling or release of neurotransmitters, heart contractions and kidney function. The main job of this sodium-potassium pump is to move potassium ions into the cell while transmitting sodium ions out of the cell.

Powered by the ATP or energy release process, this pump moves sodium and potassium in opposite directions against its concentration gradient.  A single cycle, releases three sodium ions and import two potassium ions into the cell. Subsequently, this releases an extra electric charge.

This process is then used to transmit electric signals that travel along nerves. Without the right balance of sodium-potassium, your nerve cells will not function. In addition, this balance is also vital to maintain the right blood pressure and controlling cardiac contractions.

Why the Sodium-Potassium Balance Matters?

With the strong recommendation of low-salt diets, sodium has come under a constant bad rap. However, sodium is an essential mineral. This is because water follows sodium and it is sodium that helps to maintain the proper balance of fluids in the body.

The problem arises only when there is a high sodium intake along with low potassium intake. When you consistently bypass fruits and veggies for processed foods you tend to fall short in potassium and consume more of sodium.

As a result, the ratio between sodium-potassium is not right and impacts the following aspects of your wellbeing:

1. Bone Building

The Palaeolithic man who fed themselves through gathering and hunting generally consumed less than 700 milligrams of sodium and some 11,000 milligrams of potassium on a daily basis. But, today this is not the case. The flip flop in the balance of sodium and potassium can stimulate the body to increase the amount of calcium that is excreted out of the urine along with sodium and other minerals. Minerals are key to keep your bones stronger and lowering the sodium-potassium ratio can promote better bone health.

2. Kidney Function

Extra sodium in your blood stress out your kidneys as they  have to work harder to flush out the excess sodium . Together with sodium, potassium is also removed and as potassium levels go down retention of sodium increases   resulting in high blood pressure.

3. Cardiovascular Health

For years physicians urge to cut back on salt to reduce risk of high blood pressure. While reducing salt is good, it’s even better to simultaneously increase potassium whilst moderating your salt intake. According to a BMJ study, adopting a two-pronged strategy that combines decreasing sodium and raising potassium to lower the sodium-potassium ratio is likely to be more effective in the battle against hypertension, heart attacks, and strokes than focusing on either of these minerals alone.

With that being said, before you increase your potassium intake it is vital to cross-check your potassium levels and if you have kidney diseases, it is not recommended to increase your potassium intake. Therefore, consult with your doctor before you increase your potassium intake.

How to Maintain a Healthy Balance of Sodium and Potassium

The simplest way to getting more potassium and less sodium in its right balance is by eating fresh fruits, vegetables, beans, fatty fish, home-made food and avoid processed food. Roughly three times more potassium than sodium is essential for optimal health and so a ratio of around 1: 2 up to 1:3 in sodium-potassium balance is often recommended.

Using salt in its natural whole form rather than the processed table salt will also help to preserve the balance. This is because when you consume rock salt like the Himalayan Rock Salt or the Celtic Salt, it is close to the composition of seawater and the amount of sodium is balanced along with the presence of other minerals including Potassium, Calcium and more.

Follow the ABCD Approach

Nutritionists advocate the ABCD approach as a cornerstone of nutrition – Access to affordable fresh foods, Back to Basics, Cooking You Can Do it and Deliver Information a Patient can Understand.

Understand than reducing your salt intake is not the only remedy to watch out for your sodium levels, you also need to increase your consumption of potassium. The key to restoring vigor on a cellular level is to reduce your sodium-potassium ratio in your diet.



Understand the Importance of Potassium in your Diet