February 5, 2010

Chloride in Diet

Posted in Category : Foods that Heal

What is Chloride?

A chloride is chemically defined as a two chlorine ions in a compound. Understanding their use in the body also requires and understanding of the compound chlorine as well. Chlorine is actually cytotoxic to humans, meaning that it can kill us. Exposure to chlorine gas was in fact one of the methods used in Nazi gas chambers. Some of the less sinister applications of chlorine actually keep us healthy and that is the use of chlorine to disinfect water. Household applications include sodium hypochlorite or the humble bleach. In the body, chlorine is also required as chloride; though, chlorine is also used in its ionic form for central nervous system functions. It is also used by other parts of the body like the stomach to create the stomach acid or hydrogen chloride. Hydrogen chloride is create by specialized parietal cells in the stomach that derive the chlorine for the acid from sodium chloride or salt and in a series of ion exchanges bond the hydrogen from water and chlorine to form the acid. Excess production of this acid is quite cumbersome and results in acidity and gastritis.

Sodium and Potassium Chloride

The above requires a little more diatribe on two compounds sodium chloride and potassium chloride. These are two essential elements for the body not as compounds but as sodium ions and potassium ions. These two elements are used by every single nerve and muscle in the body for their function. There is a system in the body called the sodium-potassium pump. This system is responsible for translating nerve impulses into muscular and cellular actions. The sodium-potassium pump is specifically responsible for the resting state of muscles. Just like a computer, muscles need to be “told” to act and not act. This is done by the action of sodium and potassium ions. Both of these substances cannot be ingested orally in their metallic form as they are highly volatile. To imagine, if you swallowed a block of sodium or potassium, you would simply blow up or spontaneously combust. Therefore, these two are ingested as potassium chloride and sodium chloride.

Excess potassium chloride is less toxic to humans than sodium chloride as can be seen with cases of excessive salt intake. Excess salt in the diet will cause water retention, hypertensive stress, and dehydration. Therefore, try and avoid adding more salt to your food than required and drink lots of water so that excess salt can be excreted frequently to set you back in equilibrium.