Besides the muscles, the bones & the different organs, the internal traffic control is policed by different minerals and salts. Two of the seemingly low key but highly important of these are potassium and sodium.
What are Potassium and sodium ?
Potassium and sodium are electrolytes needed for the body to function normally and help maintain fluid and blood volume in the body. Potassium is the third most abundant mineral in the body. It helps regulate water retention and prevent osteoporosis and kidney stones. Sodium helps maintain the balance of water in and around the cell for proper nerve function and maintaining stable blood pressure.
They work together in the tissues of the body.
Imbalance can cause cardiovascular disorder, heart disease and stroke, muscle cramps and twitching.
The daily requirement is about 4.7 gms of potassium per day and sodium is 200 mg a day. An easy remedy for Sodium & potassium imbalance is a balanced diet of fresh fruit and vegetables, less processed food and right amount of fluid intake.
The eating plan should be one of low sodium and rich potassium.
5 ways to to avoid the deficiency
1) Cut back on sodium; avoid processed food which means canned vegetables, canned soups and cheeses. Many snack foods contain large amounts of sodium. Try and use sea-salt. Add less salt or no salt to food
2) Check nutrition labels. Government has made it mandatory to put number/percentage on the containers, pertaining to the amount of fat, carbohydrates, sugar, minerals etc.
3) Fresh fruits and vegetables needed for keeping potassium balance. Citrus fruits like oranges and banana are very good for the demands of the elderly in managing potassium levels. Vegetables like carrots, sweet potato, red pepper, also spinach, beets, white beans and ordinary potatoes. Coconut water is an excellent provider of potassium. One cup gives 600 gms of the electrolyte.
4) Fish like salmon, trout or cod is good to increase potassium level. Low-fat dairy products like yoghurt need to be consumed as per age and medical condition. Meat is also beneficial (portion control might prove helpful)
5) Regular blood tests and consultations with the doctor is necessary to keep a check on the sodium /potassium levels. The reports generated might also help in identifying any underlying medical condition.
Old age naturally heralds a host of deficiencies, ailments & complications. While old age problems are a fact it is better to be safe than sorry. Hence, awareness and informed choices and decisions might help in regulating the potassium /sodium levels to try and prevent some of the problems. Right levels of both potassium and sodium are important to body functions.
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