The Paleo Diet® | Sodium/Potassium Ratio
noun_Search_345985 Created with Sketch.
0 cart-active Created with Sketch. noun_Search_345985 Created with Sketch.

Sodium/Potassium Ratio

Sodium and potassium have a symbiotic relationship. They need to be consumed in a certain ratio, though many people are consuming a sodium-to-potassium ratio 10 times greater than it should be.

Expand For More

The Western diet is low in plant foods containing potassium alkali salts (K-base), which our ancestors ate in abundance. Simultaneously, modern diets comprise foods that replace those K-base salts with sodium chloride (NaCl). As a result, in a typical Western diet the ratio of sodium to potassium is often 1-to-1, or worse.

The ratio of sodium to potassium is crucial for our health. Hunter-gatherer societies consume about a 1-to-5 to 1-to-10 ratio—far more potassium than sodium. The increased sodium consumption on a Western diet, compounded by insufficient potassium, drives us away from this natural ratio.

Every cell in our body relies on an intricate balance of sodium and potassium. The Na+-K+ pump, found in the outer plasma membrane of almost every cell, is responsible for maintaining a higher concentration of sodium outside the cell and a higher concentration of potassium inside the cell, which is crucial for the physiological processes of all cells in our body. We would die if this high concentration gradient was not maintained. In fact, close to 25 percent of our energy at rest is used by these pumps to maintain this critical gradient.

An understanding of the importance that sodium and potassium play in cellular function makes clear that a shift away from our genetically determined nutritional requirements can have dire consequences for our health.

A diet that is low in potassium and high in sodium increases the net systemic acid load on the body. This then leads to a chronic metabolic acidosis, which has a host of negative effects on the body including bone mineral loss, cardiovascular disease and insulin resistance.

Following a Paleo Diet high in plant foods balances with the acidity of animal proteins; many plants contain large quantities of potassium. So crucial is the intake of potassium that while dietary acid load is associated with chronic kidney disease (CKD), potassium intake is negatively associated with CKD1.

A review of the scientific literature is overwhelmingly supportive of decreasing sodium while simultaneously increasing potassium for improved health benefits. Yet, too many people fall short of this guideline. Thankfully, you can accomplish this with little effort by following the guidelines and recipes here at The Paleo Diet®.

  1. Ko BJ, Chang Y, Ryu S, Kim EM, Lee MY, Hyun YY, Lee KB. Dietary acid load and chronic kidney disease in elderly adults: Protein and potassium intake. PLoS One. 2017 Sep 27; 12(9).
noun_chevron up_1746113 Created with Sketch.
3 Nutrient Ratios to Keep in Balance

Most Americans are way off on these delicate balances.

By Betsy Schroeder
Why We Support a Low Sodium Diet

CEO Trevor Connor explains the five key reasons The Paleo Diet is a low-sodium diet.

By Trevor Connor, M.S.
Does a Low-Salt Diet Cause Insulin Resistance?

There’s a belief in the Paleo world that a low-salt diet leads to insulin resistance, but the science shows the exact opposite - a high-salt diet causes it.

By Trevor Connor, M.S.
The Sodium/Potassium Ratio and its Importance in Human Health
Evidence suggests that the sodium/potassium ratio in the Paleolithic diet is far more beneficial to human health when compared to a typical Western diet.
By Mark J. Smith, Ph.D.
Salt is a Killer Without Huge Intakes of Fruits and Veggies
Are you eating enough fresh fruits and veggies to counteract your salt intake?
By Loren Cordain, Ph.D.
Fresh Sardines or Canned Sardines: No Longer an Option for Americans

In today’s post, we explore the effects of the declining sardine population on the US market and your health.

By Loren Cordain, Ph.D.
Further Evidence Against a High Sodium Paleo Diet

Read more about high sodium Paleo Diets & health benefits. Read The Paleo Diet® blog to learn more about the paleo diet, paleo foods & more today!

By Loren Cordain, Ph.D.
New studies on salt: Adverse influence upon immunity, inflammation and autoimmunity

The most scientifically valid study in humans has demonstrated that a high salt diet promotes chronic inflammation and adversely affects the immune system.

By Loren Cordain, Ph.D.
Paleo Leadership
 
Trevor Connor
Trevor Connor

Dr. Loren Cordain’s final graduate student, Trevor Connor, M.S., brings more than a decade of nutrition and physiology expertise to spearhead the new Paleo Diet team.

Mark J Smith
Dr. Mark J. Smith

One of the original members of the Paleo movement, Mark J. Smith, Ph.D., has spent nearly 30 years advocating for the benefits of Paleo nutrition.

Nell Stephenson
Nell Stephenson

Ironman athlete, mom, author, and nutrition blogger Nell Stephenson has been an influential member of the Paleo movement for over a decade.

Loren Cordain
Dr. Loren Cordain

As a professor at Colorado State University, Dr. Loren Cordain developed The Paleo Diet® through decades of research and collaboration with fellow scientists around the world.