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Sodium is a chemical element naturally found in our bodies and in the foods we consume in the form of sodium chloride (NaCl), or table salt. Sodium is very important because it regulates fluid balance and generates electrical signals for nerve and muscle functions in our bodies. When we eat too much sodium, our body retains more water to maintain the proper fluid balance, resulting in high blood pressure, or hypertension. When this occurs, sodium does more harm than good to a person’s health status.
More than half of all Americans take a daily supplement, and Americans spend billions of dollars on these vitamins, minerals, fiber, herbal products and other items. Including one in your daily schedule may be commonplace.
Our large intestine (colon) is home to 100 trillion “friendly” bacteria. These bacteria help defend us against disease, make certain vitamins such as vitamin K, and help break down extra food residue that remains after digestion in the small intestine. This process is known as fermentation. Our bacteria can become imbalanced due to stress, diarrhea, changes in diet and antibiotics. Consuming fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, probiotics and prebiotics can help our bacteria stay within a healthy balance.
The National Institutes of Health recommends 20 to 35 grams of fiber daily for older children, adolescents and adults. Increase your fiber intake slowly, and drink plenty of water to avoid digestive upset.
Fiber isn’t a “miracle food,”but adding fiber-rich foods to your diet can have health benefits. The National Cancer Institute suggests that foods high in fiber may be protective against some cancers, particularly colon cancer. Although the National Cancer Institute recommends getting 20 to 35 grams of fiber per day. Soluble fiber (found in oats, dry edible beans, barley and fruits) helps lower blood cholesterol and may reduce the risk of heart disease. Insoluble fiber (found in wheat bran, whole-wheat products and vegetables) helps prevent ulcers, constipation, hemorrhoids and diverticulosis. High fiber foods usually are low in calories and many are inexpensive, too.