The sodium balancing act

Sodium is an essential mineral for human beings. Our blood levels are tightly controlled by antidiuretic hormone, which causes blood sodium levels to stay within a very tight range by making the kidneys excrete sodium if sodium intake is high, and preserve sodium if intake is low.

The only way to have intake of sodium stay high and to reduce total sodium in the blood stream is to take a diuretic, which acts by making the kidney excrete sodium.

Taking a diuretic is an option for people who suffer with Meniere’s disease. I have considered the idea of taking a diuretic when I know I just won’t be able to control the amount of sodium I am going to be eating – which happens on occasion, especially when I am traveling for several days and eating out.

An interesting situation came up a couple of weeks ago. I had the opportunity to dine at Oyamel Cocina Mexicana whose celebrity chef José Andrés is a James Beard award winner. This is not a place I am going to go into and order a salad with unsalted fish or chicken on top as I do regularly. No, no, this was going to be an experience, and I just had to set aside my sodium restriction for one night.

Oyamel’s signature margaritas and guacamole made table side.

We had small plates of lots of their menu offerings, and I tasted everything. For example, we had a salad with avocado, roasted beets, tomatillo, pickled red onion, jicama and orange dressing. Sounds tame enough. But then there was Yucatan-style pit barbecued pork with pickled red onion and Mexican sour orange that I know contained a fair amount of salt.

As much as I tried to lean on the salads and limit the saltier items, I had vertigo the next day. In cases like this, I will need a diuretic to allow me to have these occasional experiences and enjoy them without the bad results.

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