Introduction is Sodium Bad For You?
The average adult currently consumes 9g to 12g of salt per day, according to the World Health Organization. For example, that’s higher than the teaspoon of salt, (6g) that we need to eat each day. Consequently, most of the salt we eat in our diet daily is “hidden”. Also, nearly 80% of our daily salt is from foods like breakfast cereals, biscuits, bread, processed foods, fast foods and prepared meals.
People only get about 20% of the salt from what they add either while cooking or when eating. Proper consumption of salt isn’t bad. It provides flavour, preserves food, and is a good source of the chloride and sodium ions that our body needs. Why is salt bad? It is the overabundance that causes problems.
Sodium vs. Salt
Here’s a clear way to distinguish between the sodium and salt, as we commonly know it.
- Sodium is found in food. And especially in processed food containing preservatives.
- Salt is what we add to our food.
Also, ideally, we want foods that are not processed. Because the more time that it’s handled, the more sodium gets added along the way. So then, salt is a chemical compound made up of sodium and chloride. And in actuality, it’s the sodium that’s really detrimental to your health. (Consequently, it’s also the chloride that gives food that “salty” taste.)
What can too much salt cause?
Kidneys serve an essential role in removing unwanted fluid and filtering blood. Also, extra liquid is moved to the bladder for urine through osmosis. However, your kidneys must work harder to remove the water. This can cause higher blood pressure and, over time, kidney failure. This happens when your kidneys can no longer act as a filter, therefore slowly poisoning the blood.
When you live with high blood pressure caused by excess consumption of salt, you’re putting a strain on your arteries. And to cope with that strain, your artery walls will become thicker and stronger. Thus, reducing their elasticity and leaving less space in the arteries. Consequently, this causes bursting arteries and clogs. As an example, these clogs can bring damage to other organs as they are left with less oxygen.
When your blood pressure is raised by overeating salt. you can end up with damage to your heart’s arteries. As a result, this can mean a slight reduction in the blood flow to the heart. Consequently, your heart will not be able to perform optimally, subsequently, it’s starved of nutrients and oxygen. You may experience sharp chest pains when active. Over time, the damage may become so severe that part of your heart can die, causing a heart attack.
Another reason to consider “why is salt bad” is that it can lead to brain damage when over-consumed. With long-term high blood pressure and thickened arteries, less blood can reach the brain. Thus leading to vascular dementia, commonly found in older adult patients.
When you have an incorrect balance of sodium and potassium, you will start to see problems. Sodium outside of your cell walls helps to determine the amount of water your body retains. When you eat too much salt, your kidneys won’t release as much water to urine. As a result, you may see swelling or Edema in parts of your body.
Inflammation & Auto-Immune Diseases
Yale researchers also discovered that mice who consumed a high-salt diet ended up with cells that were highly inflammatory, causing the defence system in the body to break down. Then they developed autoimmune encephalomyelitis.
The researchers also believe the cells may lead to more auto-immune troubles in type 1 diabetes, asthma, psoriasis, and rheumatoid arthritis. It is believed this can only be preventative. And reducing your sodium intake will not reverse an auto-immune condition.
Why is salt bad for you? An increase of 1g more salt to your daily diet has been correlated with an increased chance of up to 25% obesity. It can affect the body’s metabolic rate. When salt is over-consumed, the ability to absorb fat will be affected.
Published article reviews have shown there is an increased risk of getting stomach cancer in those who ate a high-salt diet compared to those with low intake. It’s also true that the more salt you eat the more your risk increases. There are two reasons for this.
Firstly, more can increase the risk of chronic H. Pylori infection. This is a bacterial infection that causes stomach ulcers and chronic inflammation. Secondly, it is believed that it irritates the stomach lining, creating inflammation. This makes the stomach more vulnerable to carcinogens from food and cookware.
But it’s important to note that there is no link between decreasing salt intake and losing weight. A study of close to 800 teens in the US, between 14 and 18 years old, found those who consumed high levels of were likely to be heavier and have inflammation, regardless of the number of calories.
Osteoporosis, is brittle or weak bones that break easily. Hence, by eating too much salt it can increase the sodium levels in your body. And causing calcium to be excreted through urine. Also, all foods have some natural sodium. However, it is also known that table salt is the main cause of this problem.
Reduce Salt in Your Diet
Quit worrying about “why is salt bad for you”, and start reducing it in your diet with these tips:
- Enjoy more foods that are fresh.
- Use whole grain bread and pasta without added seasonings. If you use packaged rice/noodles, only use half of the seasoning pack.
- Cook from scratch, especially soups.
- Use herbs, spices and other salt-free ways to season your food.
- Rinse canned foods like beans and veggies. Buy low-sodium versions when you can.
- Use fresh meats instead of processed ones like lunch meats and hot dogs.
- Avoid items that have been injected with sodium-containing solutions.
- Look for low-sodium breakfast foods.
Watch For Foods That Contain Salt
These foods may contain hidden salt; limit or remove them from your diet.
- Chips and crackers
- Canned veggies
- Cold cuts/processed meat
- Packaged soup
- Condiments like ketchup, soy sauce, mustard and salad dressing
- Boxed dinners
- Frozen dinners, breakfasts and snacks
- Breads and baked goods
- Food preservatives that contain sodium
Sodium can be hidden in many processed foods, in high levels, it is important to control what you eat. Also high levels are a danger to your health. So then, as we age and our bodies are less robust, we need to be mindful of what we put in it. Besides looking for food that suit your budget read labels to know what you are eating, healthy choices are beneficial.
Important Note *
Remember that everyone is different, and it is ultimately YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to find what your body responds to. So please do your due diligence before trying anything new, including getting Medical Advice to ensure your safety and peace of mind.
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