Too much salt is bad, but some salt is necessary for body functions. Since salt is lost in sweat, to some degree is needs to be replaced. Hyponatremia is the condition that arises from lack of salt often in endurance athletes, and it can lead to seizures, muscles cramps, nausea, and other symptoms.
You need a certain amount of salt in your diet to be healthy — high salt intake is linked to higher blood pressure, so it’s good not to eat too many things really high in salt, but for most people it’s not necessary to eliminate it from their diet. Exercise causes you to sweat, which results in the loss of not only water but also salts and other electrolytes. Just drinking plain water won’t replenish those necessary chemicals — there’s more to dehydration than just loss of water. Some people are more sensitive to salt than others, and the amount of salt they can consume without adverse affects is lower. For most people without any known issues such as hypertension, sports drinks shouldn’t pose any problems.
Sweat is a mixture of fluids and electrolytes, and its main salt is sodium. Athletes performing high intensity activity typically have sweat rates of 1.0 – 2.5L per hour. To combat this, sports drinks contain added sodium along with carbohydrates. The Scientific Committee on Food says to include sodium (460-1150 mg/L) and carbohydrates (0-350 kcal/L) for optimal rehydration during heavy exercise. The loss of sodium could play a role in the development of muscle cramps, or weakness. Sodium also improves the rate at which the small intestines can absorb water and carbohydrate which delays muscle fatigue
Too much salt in your diet can lead to high blood pressure and other problems, but your body actually loses a lot of salt during intense workouts. Sodium is lost from the body through sweating, so more sweat equals more salt lost. When athletes replenish their system with just plain water, they are re-hydrating themselves but they are not replacing the sodium that has left their body. In fact, they are making the problem worse by lowering the salt concentration in their body, as they are diluting it with more water. Too much of anything can be bad, but the right amount of sodium helps the body with necessary muscle functions and the transmission of nerve impulses. Sports drinks are created for athletes for use during high-intensity workouts, they have been formulated to avoid this common problem.
Soda includes salt because it tastes good. People enjoy salty foods, especially when mixed with sugar. However, sodium is not generally good for you, at least in the huge quantites found in soft drinks. Sodium can lead to dehydration, which causes water retention that lead to weight gain and breast pain in women. Dehydration also negatively affects your complexion.
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