When people talk about whether to drink coffee or not, usually the thing they focus on is the caffeine. If you are sensitive to caffeine as I am, you should definitely limit the amount and make sure you have it early enough that it doesn’t hinder your ability to sleep.
That happened to me. My husband was given several boxes of raspberry tea years ago. Without carefully reading the package, and just assuming it was herbal tea, I made a cup after dinner. It was delicious! So delicious in fact, I had a second cup. And then found myself unable to sleep or shut my brain down for 2 days! Literally. I went back and realized it was black tea with raspberry flavor. Live and learn.
Drinking a high quality coffee in moderation, does have health benefits, if you like it. But here is something you may not be aware of. Caffeine in coffee increases excretion of sodium and chloride (aka salt) both through sweat and urine. Here’s why this could be a bigger problem than just having too much caffeine.
We’ve been told forever it seems that salt is bad for us and we have to limit it. We’ve been told salt is bad for the heart. We are learning now that the opposite seems to be true. Numerous studies have, overall, refuted the salt-heart disease connection. In fact, studies found no strong evidence that cutting salt intake reduces the risk for heart attacks, strokes or death. In fact, salt restriction actually increased the risk of death in those with heart failure.
Salt is an essential nutrient required for blood pressure regulation, transporting nutrients into and out of your cells, maintaining hydration and brain-muscle communication. Salt is actually a nutritional superstar, provided you consume the right kind, and maintain a proper salt-to-potassium ratio. But all salts are not equal, in terms of their impact on your health. Processed, white (table) salt is known to raise blood pressure, while natural unprocessed salt (like Himalayan Crystal and Celtic sea) is not only healing, but in fact essential for many biological functions.
So, if you eat all processed, packaged foods, then you probably do get way too much sodium. And I am all for eliminating processed foods as well as replacing processed, white table salt with natural, unprocessed salt that provides all the trace minerals your body needs, not just sodium. Of course, balancing that out with plenty of potassium-rich veggies is the other part of that equation.
However, you can also become sodium depleted, especially if you limit intake of salt or you drink too many caffeinated beverages!
So let’s put this into perspective: According to one study, 90 mg of caffeine (the amount of caffeine found in one cup of coffee) caused 437 mg of extra sodium loss. When study participants consumed the caffeine equivalent of about four cups of coffee (360 mg of caffeine) there was around a 1,200 mg additional loss of sodium. Keep in mind, the original limit on sodium intake set back in 1977 was only 1,200 mg per day. No one ever mentioned that we could lose that much sodium by consuming just four cups of coffee, which many people routinely do!
Maybe you’re wondering what the big deal is if you become sodium depleted. Well, you can experience dehydration, dizziness, fatigue, dry mouth, and cognitive impairment. One of the foundational principles of all my coaching is to drink one-half your body weight in ounces of water daily and to include ¼ teaspoon of natural, unprocessed salt for every 32 oz. It helps the water to properly hydrate your cells and every client I’ve ever worked with who balked at this, ended up telling me how much more energy they had after including the salt.
Even if you are consuming the upper recommended limit of sodium intake which is 2,300 mg per day or one teaspoon of salt, you could still become sodium depleted through the additional salt loss in your sweat as well as urine if you consume a lot of caffeine and particularly if you exercise or do work outside in the heat.
Most Americans consume caffeine every day so most of us are probably at risk of salt deficit.
Do you think you may be at risk of salt deficit?
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