Salt (aka sodium chloride) is essential for life and well-being. The human body utilizes sodium chloride to balance the fluids in the body and help transmit signals between the nerves, muscles and brain among other things.
Unfortunately, in modern diets, we tend to exaggerate with salt consumption. We are actually using so much salt that it’s compromising our health severely.
The fact is that salt is one of the basic taste in humans, that is why we like it so much and add it in large quantities in our food.
According to a recently conducted survey the average American consumes around 3400 mg of salt per day which is more than twice the 1500 mg daily dose recommended by the American Heart Association.
Among the consequences of high salt intake are hypertension, abnormal heart development, kidney disorders and calcium depletion.
Salt intake causes water retention which promotes an abnormal inflow of water into blood vessels. This causes an increase in blood pressure which can trigger cardiovascular conditions such as the risk of stroke, left ventricular hypertrophy, and protenuria.
Dietary salt intake reduction can delay or prevent the incidence of antihypertensive therapy and can facilitate blood pressure reduction.
Abnormal Heart Development
Eating too much salt over a prolonged period of time can causes an abnormal enlargement in the heart. This happens because having higher than normal blood volume causes your heart to work harder in order to properly regulate blood circulation in the body. Over time, the heart can become abnormally large while the heart valves get thinner. An enlarged heart is generally weaker and can cause chest pains, chronic fatigue and shortness of breath.
Calcium Depletion and Osteoporosis
When sodium intake becomes too high, the body gets rid of sodium via the urine, taking calcium with it. This causes calcium depletion calcium stores in the body. Inadequate levels of calcium in the body lead to thin bones and osteoporosis.
The process of calcium elimination in the body has been recently unveiled by a team of researchers from the University of Alberta, Canada that has found that there is a molecule responsible for the regulation of both sodium and calcium in the body. The problem is that when this molecule is stimulated because of high salt intake it, indifferently, gets rid of sodium and calcium. When calcium is not absorbed and retained by the body, bones become thin and osteoporosis kicks in. Have you ever heard of the expression ‘brittle bones’? Well, that’s what this is all about.
As said before excess sodium that is not used goes into your urine. This can increase the filtration load of your kidneys and increase the likelihood of crystal formation aka kidney stones.
But that’s not it, when the body gets rid of sodium via the urine, it takes with it (as we have seen before) and high levels of calcium in the urine are the lead factor to the development of kidney stones
If you’re already prone to kidney stones, because of genetic heritage, you should be really, really careful with salt.
Want I really want to stress out here is that salt is a vital component for health as it is essential for life but in small quantities, while it’s harmful in excess.
What we have to do is to learn to not exceed the recommended quantities of salt in our diet.
The most evident way is to cut back is to skip the table salt; however most of the sodium in modern diets comes from processed food. You should be extremely careful with canned soup, salad dressings, but there are other products that might not come to mind but still make it on the blacklist such pasta, bread and even cereals. The best way is always to check the sodium content on the nutrition facts label on products.
Remember, the goal is stay as close as possible to 1500 mg per day and as always you just need some thought in it.
The Iron You