Posted by: allisonbarnes | June 8, 2011

CFC Health Coaches Teach About the Importance of Salt

Eric Bolden teaches about the different properties of salt and its importance in a healthy diet.

Today marks the halfway point of camp with only 5 more days of teaching and 2 more days of competition. Boy has the time flown!  I have had the opportunity to observe several of the classes, and at times I even learn a little myself.  Wednesday morning I watched Duke Soccer player Kendall Bradley and UVA Football player Eric Bolden teach about the different properties of table salt (NaCl) and its biological importance and uses.

When Eric asked for examples of why salt was an essential part of the human diet, one boy replied because it was needed to make cake.  It gave me a chuckle and I couldn’t agree more! But in all seriousness, the main lesson was something I wish I had more knowledge on when I was their age.  The lesson was about hyponatremia.

Hyponatremia is when there is a low concentration of sodium in the blood.  This can occur in athletes when they sweat and lose salt and water, but they only hydrate with water. This dilutes the sodium in the bloodstream, and hyponatremia can occur.

I was never a big salt eater and was known for wiping salt off my fries. I couldn’t stomach drinking sugary sport drinks either during practice, so I mainly stuck with water.

Kendall Bradley shows the Red Team the "Ironman-You Will Do This" YouTube video to show students what a triathlon entails.

The lesson went on to talk about how hyponatremia is common among triathletes, a sport I have grown more interested in over the past couple of years. The American Coaches talked about how 30% of the finishers of the Hawaii Ironman are both hyponatremic and dehydrated when they cross the finish line.

I have a history of dehydration and know that staying hydrated can be an issue for me. (Don’t worry Mom and Dad, I’m staying hydrated and feel great!) While in Vietnam, I force myself to drink at least three Nalgene water bottles a day (not counting meals) and to alternate water and propel. Not only is staying hydrated an issue with me, but I need to make sure I have enough sodium in my system.

I’m half way through CFC and will use the last half to make sure I learn as much as I can from the program and the culture I have been able to experience. My goal is to learn at least one new thing  every day I have left here.

Here are my fun facts for today:

  1. Sweat contains between 2.25- 3.4 grams of salt per liter.
  2. The rate of perspiration in a long, hot race can average 1 liter per hour.
  3. It’s better to get your sodium from both sport drinks and salty foods instead of salt tablets, because salty foods stimulate thirst and you risk ingesting too much salt with tablets.
  4. Foods consumed during a long race or a long duration of exercise should be low fat, low protein, high carbohydrates and provide a source of sodium


  1. Very impressive …….. Dad

  2. Look forward to your next posting. tell the team Good Luck with the final week of competition

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