Using Salt to Optimize Mental & Physical Performance | Huberman Lab Podcast #63

  • 🎬 Video
  • ℹ️ Published 2 years ago

I discuss the role of salt (sodium) in the nervous system and the key role that it plays in mental performance, physical performance and health. I explain how the brain senses salt levels in our body and how that relates to our feelings of thirst. I cover the physiology of the renal system and the hormones that control sodium and water balance in our body. I also explore how salt interacts with stress and our immune systems and its crucial role in neuron function. Additionally, I examine research findings suggesting that some individuals might benefit from increased intake of sodium and other electrolytes (magnesium and potassium) to enhance mental performance, lessen anxiety, and offset dizziness. Yet, other people may need less sodium. I discuss how you can determine your optimal sodium intake and why sodium intake levels need to be uniquely tailored to an individual’s lifestyle. Finally, I explain how salt creates ‘hidden’ sugars in many processed foods and the problems that can create. Throughout the episode, I explain peer-reviewed findings outlining salt’s essential role in overall health and describe general recommendations and tools anyone can use to find their optimal salt balance and thereby enhance their brain and body’s performance.

#HubermanLab #Hydration #Salt

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00:00:00 Role of Salt
00:02:18 The Brain-Body Contract
00:02:57 Neuropod Cells, Artificial Sweeteners & ‘Hidden’ Cravings
00:10:57 AG1 (Athletic Greens), LMNT, InsideTracker
00:15:06 Salt Regulation
00:17:13 How the Brain Senses Salt
00:24:15 Salt & Thirst
00:29:27 Blood Pressure & Thirst
00:33:47 Kidneys & Urine Regulation
00:39:08 Vasopressin: Roles in Libido & Urination
00:45:46 How Much Salt Do You Need?
00:56:45 Should You Increase Your Salt Intake?
01:02:19 Tools: Determining Your Individual Salt Intake
01:14:02 Iodine, Sea Salt
01:17:13 Salt: Roles in Stress & Anxiety
01:24:20 Other Electrolytes: Magnesium & Potassium
01:27:57 Tools: Effects of Low-carbohydrate Diets & Caffeine
01:32:28 General Recommendations for Salt Intake
01:36:34 Perception of Salt & Sugar Taste, Processed Foods
01:47:13 Role of Sodium in Neuronal Function, Action Potentials
01:53:13 Dehydration
01:55:36 What Salt Intake is Best for You?
02:00:58 Zero-Cost Support, YouTube Feedback, Spotify, Apple Reviews, Sponsors, Patreon, Thorne, Instagram, Twitter, Neural Network Newsletter

Please note that The Huberman Lab Podcast is distinct from Dr. Huberman's teaching and research roles at Stanford University School of Medicine. The information provided in this show is not medical advice, nor should it be taken or applied as a replacement for medical advice. The Huberman Lab Podcast, its employees, guests and affiliates assume no liability for the application of the information discussed.

💬 Comments

Another great episode Dr Huberman, thanks for this!

Author — @ErikTheElectric


🎯 Key Takeaways for quick navigation:

00:00 🧠 Salt, or sodium, plays a significant role in nervous system function, impacting mental and physical performance.
00:29 🍔 Salt regulates blood pressure and influences appetite for salt, sugar, and other nutrients.
00:59 🏋️‍♂️ The "salt system" in the brain affects health, athletic performance, cognitive abilities, aging, and dementia risk.
01:57 🩺 Optimal salt intake varies for individuals; guidelines provided in consultation with a physician.
04:23 🤖 Gut neuropod cells distinguish between caloric and noncaloric sweeteners, influencing cravings and brain responses.
20:46 🧠 The blood-brain barrier restricts most substances from entering the brain, except those necessary for brain function.
21:44 🧪 The organum vasculosum of the lateral terminalis (OVLT) is a brain area near circulating fluid, detecting blood and cerebrospinal fluid contents.
23:10 🌊 OVLT monitors sodium levels, blood pressure, and more, regulating salt balance crucial for bodily function and neuron activity.
24:35 🚰 Thirst is triggered by OVLT detecting changes in blood osmolarity and blood pressure, leading to osmotic and hypovolemic thirst.
34:16 🥤 Kidneys play a vital role in fluid balance, responding to hormonal signals like vasopressin to control water retention or release.
42:33 🌊 Sodium's role in conserving water in kidneys and its relationship with water balance.
45:48 🧪 Complicated interplay between hormones, salt, and fluid balance in the body.
48:13 ⚖️ Both high and low salt consumption can be detrimental to brain health and overall health.
51:07 📊 The U-shaped relationship between sodium intake and cardiovascular events.
57:15 🩺 Sodium recommendations vary based on individual health conditions like orthostatic disorders.
01:05:06 🌡️ Salt craving indicates need, e.g., sweating, hot/cold environments.
01:06:26 🥤 Hydration formula: Body weight / 30 = ounces of fluid every 15 mins.
01:07:55 🧠 Hydration applies to cognitive activities too, not just exercise.
01:09:21 ⚖️ Sodium and water balance adaptation affects salt cravings.
01:19:38 🌊 Sodium intake linked to stress system, aiding resistance to stressors.
01:27:34 🧂 Sodium to potassium ratio varies in hydration formulas; context matters with diet and exercise.
01:28:59 ☕️ Intermittent fasting and caffeine intake can lead to sodium loss; replenishing electrolytes is important.
01:31:51 💧 Balance caffeine intake with water and sodium to avoid excessive loss of electrolytes.
01:34:42 🧂 Recommended daily salt intake can range from 8 to 12 grams (3.2 to 4.8 grams of sodium); sodium-potassium ratio matters.
01:42:30 🍬 Interaction of salty-sweet tastes affects food consumption; unprocessed foods help regulate salt and sugar intake.
01:49:18 🧠 Sodium plays a crucial role in the nervous system's communication through neurons. Neurons change electrical activity by allowing sodium ions to rush into cells, leading to action potentials and signaling between neurons.
01:53:15 🌊 Drinking excessive water without sufficient electrolytes can disrupt sodium levels, impacting neuron function. Hyponatremia from excessive water intake can lead to brain dysfunction and even death.
01:55:12 🏃‍♀️ Athletes should maintain proper fluid and electrolyte balance for optimal performance. Dehydration can cause confusion, dizziness, and coordination problems, even impacting competitive athletes' ability to finish a race.
01:57:09 🌡️ Stress and sodium craving systems can interact, increasing salt intake may be beneficial for anxiety and offsetting low blood pressure. However, personalized considerations and medical advice are essential.
02:00:33 🧂 Sodium balance is essential for brain, cognition, and overall health. Optimal salt intake varies depending on an individual's circumstances, fluid intake, diet, and electrolyte levels.

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Author — @fastmushroom902


only huberman labs can talk about salt for hours and you never get bored

Author — @Warbots983


I said to doctors and neurologists for years and years that I thought I had low sodium. No one bothered to investigate until last year, and an endocrinologist confirmed this after 3 or 4 blood tests over a few months were done. Had I been listened to, I could have been spared multiple fractures over the years. It makes me as mad as hell when the medical professionals expect to be respected, but don't always respect their patients.

Author — @julie5668


I already once lived for several years on a salt-free diet and began to get sick constantly. My heart began to disturb me, stomach ached after every meal, kidneys ached wildly, skin became earthy, my face, arms, legs always swelled, I lost several teeth at once, all the rest became loose, there were memory lapses. I saw that I was slowly dying, but I did not understand from what. And one day I suddenly wanted to drink brine juice so much that I thought if I didn’t drink, I would die. As soon as I drank, I felt very well, relaxed. I searched the topic on youtube and found out that a lack of sodium can be fatal. Since then, every day on an empty stomach I drink hot salted water. My heart doesn’t disturb me any more, I forgot where my kidneys are, all the swelling has gone, I don’t see memory lapses, the skin has cleared up, and I have enough energy for the whole day, even if I don’t get enough sleep. Eat salt and be healthy. ❤️

Author — @madinacrystalglassplayerin1280


As a kid, they used to give us salt water and lemon juice when we had sporting events or running belly. I have also come to realize that guacamole is one of the most amazing foods since it has sodium, potassium, and magnesium. Sushi is also amazing. The avocado, cucumber, seaweed, and salty fish are amazing.

Author — @winstonthomas4576


I used to get headaches and brain fog while fasting and almost gave up. Was lucky to chance upon a video where Andrew says such feelings are not because of low blood sugar but of low salt levels. Started drinking lemon water with some Himalayan pink salt and I've never felt better. I feel like my cognitive abilities have soared. Thanks Dr Huberman!

Author — @reginaldpooftah4525


Please never stop this. As long as you are able and it is not harmful to any aspect of your life just know what you do is very much needed

Author — @Loadofbulltrading


You're saving lives Sir. All of the extremely difficult time and effort you spent to learn has paid off. Your profession and the reasons for it are truly serving their purpose. It's apparent in the way you convey things that you're intention is to teach as opposed to just flex how learned you are. Definitely a blessing to the world and a phenom within yourself, and also without..for infinite distance in every direction at any given time.

Author — @aoandd


Two things strike me every lecture, that the body is fantastically complex with an endless amount to learn about and the fact that Dr, Huberman is able to bring it all in at a practical level. I wish I could return to my youth and become a researcher in biochem.

Author — @MrTemplerage


Thank you for time stamping your episodes. In my world, you are the most referenced podcast...this morning a client and I could navigate the 'salt' question using your podcast as a reference point for questions that came up.

Author — @bobmciver6437


Thank you, Dr.Huberman for this incredible work. I learn a ton information from each podcast!

Author — @maxgroza8273


I tell friends that i take online lesson at Stanford, by one of the Professor of Neuroscience and show them my thick notes. How impressive hah? Dr. Huberman made it possible for me to say so for an average working person in Mongolia.



My 2nd year of nursing my 2nd child, without extra salt in my diet. Exhaustion, migraines... I was upstairs and hit by vertigo . After it passed I went downstairs where my husband was watching 60 min with a program about chronic fatigue. They linked it with low blood pressure(which I had) and found that adding salt to the diet soon helped. Of course this segment has probably vanished into thin air. It was 1992. I ran to the kitchen, made some popcorn, loaded it with butter and salt and soon felt energetic and human. Also my blood pressure is better!

Author — @louisetrimble3490


love dr. huberman. I've never met a physician who really takes the time to listen to my questions so it's great listening to him answer questions from the audience. Thank you

Author — @jacobtwomey3230


Dr. Huberman, I just love your educational Podcasts. So happy I found you. ❤

Author — @abbycoykendall8086


There’s a decent amount of water required to produce a menstrual cycle, so it makes complete sense that the body would try to “hoard” the water needed each month. Which would also explain my cravings for salty dill pickles at that time 😊

Author — @preppergarden


“I don’t think your diet should be low in anything, except poison.” Very well said!

Author — @andrewz2854


Dr. Andrew, Thank you so much for publishing all of this wonderful information. I've been listening to you faithfully every Monday for months. Here is an interesting story as a result of this podcast about salt: I'm a small chicken farmer and have a flock of egg layers. Eggs are my #1 source of income. I've been plagued by receiving a large amount of wrinkled, small, and medium-sized eggs. As I listened to your presentation, I realized that my chickens may be short on sodium and thus may not be stimulated to take in enough water to create fully formed large eggs. I immediately supplemented their drinking water with electrolytes that are used for livestock and within a week, the number of undersized eggs reduced by 90 percent, and the wrinkled eggs disappeared. This gave me an immediate 10% increase in income! Thank you! Keep up the good work!

Author — @valleytiller42


I am from India and I listen to each word spoken by Mr Andrew he is excellent

Author — @mackie3875