Unlike the rest of America, I'm not eating enough salt...

I’ve been feeling kinda cruddy for the past few weeks. I’m better now. The story of this is a bit interesting, however…

Heart disease runs on both sides of my family. And, on one side, it’s not “normal” heart disease. As such, growing up, my mother always fed us a low-sodium diet. And so I never got much of a “taste” for salt. It’s also all over the news, how bad salt is for you.

Now, I did hear the horror stories of what happens if you try to bike a century or run a marathon and just drink plain old water, how you will end up cramping, then keeling over dead from electrolyte imbalance. The standard advice from the sports medicine field is that the normal American diet contains more than adequate salt… but if you are going to work out for a few hours straight, especially in hot weather, you should really consider supplementation.

Which I do. Not necessarily at the rate that the products instruct all of the time, but I’ve never had to stop because I was cramping and I’ve only come close to bonking once or twice.

But the standard advice is also that your average American is going to get more than enough salt in their diet than they’d possibly need, so even if you are an athlete, you should consider reducing the salt in your diet. So I haven’t made any effort to add any salt to my diet… unless it’s yummy.

A few weeks ago, I got a nice fancy new Camelbak Insulated water bottle. It’s a stainless steel thermos that fits in a bottle cage. And the nice part about it is that I can put cold water in it, even without ice, and it’ll stay cold for hours. As such, I’ve been drinking a bit more water than usual.

And so I started feeling crappy. All sorts of things. I’d have aches and pains. My head wasn’t working quite right anymore. I was always tired. Stuff like that.

And I was on the verge of scheduling a doctor visit and thinking that maybe I should go to an ER if I started feeling much worse. And then it occurred to me that it was mostly just cramps in different places… so I looked up that cramps were sometimes caused by not enough salt. I thought about what I’d been eating the past few days and realized that I’d been drinking a lot of water and not having much salt.

So I decided to eat a packet of salt and see if I felt better after the ride home. I felt better, so I added a dash of salt to my dinner. The next morning, I put a pinch of salt on my oatmeal (hoping it wouldn’t taste that wretched) and added some salt to lunch.

All of the sudden, I was feeling better. Like magic.

This is probably because I’m eating such a high percentage of my own cooking that I actually do control my salt intake by how much I use while cooking. So, take a fairly low rate of salt ingestion and then increase my water intake… and then all of the sudden I’m salt deficient. Clearly I do not eat a “normal” American diet.

I’m presently savoring the irony. I had to watch the Michael Phelps Diet video from SnL.