Welcome to the Dr. B Weekly Roundup, a curated weekly overview that cuts through the noise to deliver vetted reads on Covid-19 and beyond. This summer is a scorcher. And so we want to make sure you’re up to date with tricks to keep cool + nourished. One major player in the game? Salt! Keep scrolling + let’s make a big cannonball splash into…
Think you know how much water to drink for optimum hydration? Think again! Many of us have been told to drink at least 8 glasses daily. But studies behind healthy hydration are… limited. Why? It’s difficult to formulate controls when bodies, diets and activity levels are so diverse.
What does salt have to do with it?
Salt is a compound of about 40% sodium and 60% chloride—two vital nutrients. They maintain the volume of plasma in our blood, which is necessary for cardiovascular function and fluid balance. And they help neurons within our nervous system communicate so that we know how to react in various situations. Without enough salt, our brain can swell, our heart can fail and our nervous system stresses out.
Healthy bodies can generally handle a range of salt we get through whole foods + the little we shake on because a steroid secreted by the adrenal glands (aldosterone) keeps our water and electrolytes balanced + our kidneys flush out the excess. Yet we’re often warned that higher sodium intake causes high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.
This assumption stems from crediting cultures with low-sodium diets and low blood pressure against high blood pressure rates in the U.S. But factors like alcohol, lack of movement and stress also influence blood pressure—and many Americans could benefit from healthier habits there. Around 75% of Americans get their sodium via processed foods, too, which also contain more saturated fat and sugar than the foods we cook for ourselves.
So how much sodium should you aim for?
The American Heart Association suggests a limit of 1,500mg—less than 1 teaspoon—for those with hypertension. But talk to your doctor. Otherwise, it boils down to 3 rules: Eat whole foods. Listen to your body. And do what feels right for you. Drink water when you're thirsty or craving sugar. If still unappeased, try an electrolyte drink. (More on that below.)
Consider increasing sodium intake if:
How else can salt help you maintain a healthy, balanced lifestyle? Float in it! Essential minerals like sodium, magnesium, chloride, bromide and potassium work wonders when absorbed through the skin. For example, magnesium reduces inflammation + helps muscle and nerve function. And sodium improves nutrient absorption + flushes toxins.
Soaking in high concentrations of minerals stimulates circulation + reduces inflammation to ease muscle aches, tension headaches, insomnia, anxiety, skin irritations and more. There’s little scientific evidence to support all anecdotal claims. But users have reported the pain-relieving benefits of floating for centuries.
So, how do you do it?
We’ve come a long way from replenishing after a workout or a debaucherous evening with sugary sports drinks sold in plastic bottles. They work in a crunch. But for healthier hydration, look to these options:
New COVID vaccines expected in fall (ABC). New vaccine formulas are in the works from Moderna and Pfizer that will provide better protection against omicron variants. The current vaccines reduce the risk of hospitalization and death. So boost up if you haven't. Otherwise, expect a rollout of the newly formulated shots around September.
Coronavirus can be contagious during a Paxlovid rebound, researchers warn, even if people don’t have symptoms (CNN). The antiviral drug Paxlovid effectively reduces symptom severity and hospitalization. But up to 8% of people report a recurrence of symptoms and positive test results 2-8 days after finishing the 5-day treatment course. Contagious during the interim, they can unknowingly infect loved ones. Your best bet? Wear a mask for 10 days after symptoms end.
Covid origin studies say evidence points to Wuhan market (BBC). New peer-reviewed studies confirm that humans were introduced to the Sars-Cov-2 virus present in live mammals at a Huanan market across 2 occurrences in late 2019. This corrects a false record that the virus stemmed from a lab. And highlights the danger of China’s unhygienic practices of selling animals across 38 species in such markets.