Sweating female boxer drinking water after workout in boxing gym - stock photo

Social media influencers are saying adding salt to your water increases hydration and boosts electrolytes. Is it true and why might it work?

Sodium plays a crucial role in the body's hydration process, according to Peter Bastian, MD, a preventive medicine specialist. Acting like a magnet, sodium draws water into cells, a critical factor in maintaining hydration. This process ensures that water moves in and out of cells properly, supporting essential bodily functions.

During exercise or sweating, not only water but also electrolytes like sodium are lost. Adding a small amount of salt to your drinking water helps replenish these lost electrolytes, promoting better water absorption and preventing dehydration.

“If you are dehydrated and need an extra boost, it should be just a pinch, not enough to taste,” Bastian says.

In hot and humid conditions, where increased sweating leads to higher water and electrolyte loss, drinking salt water becomes valuable. This helps replace the losses, preventing dehydration and mitigating heat-related illnesses. Additionally, individuals facing illnesses that cause fluid and electrolyte loss, such as vomiting or diarrhea, can benefit from a salty beverage to aid in rehydration and prevent further dehydration.

Considering the standard recommendation of no more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day, it's essential to be mindful of one's overall sodium intake to avoid adverse health effects. Consuming too much sodium and salt can lead to negative health consequences, including high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease, and stroke.

“It's crucial to recognize that not everyone needs to add salt to their water,” Bastian says. “Most individuals can obtain sufficient sodium through their diet, and maintaining a balanced diet and drinking plain water should provide enough electrolytes for proper hydration.”

Read: Hydration supplements can negatively impact sodium levels

While adding salt to your water can be a valuable practice for specific situations, it's crucial to approach it with awareness and consideration of individual health needs. The key lies in balance and moderation to unlock the benefits of enhanced hydration.

For more information on what nutrient-rich foods or supplements may be beneficial for your health, make an appointment with a Loma Linda University Health preventive medicine provider on MyChart.

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