A report published by the World Health Organisation found that consuming less sodium could save seven million lives by 2030. Salt is a main source of flavour for most recipes worldwide. Countries are yet to establish lower sodium consumption policies, which they have done for trans fats. Studies show that trans fats policies led to reduced consumption. Bans, voluntary less consumption and labelling food items containing trans fats all reduced consumption, but bans were the most effective.
WHO recommends all countries establish plans to reduce sodium consumption and get manufacturers to reduce sodium levels in their products.
The problem with too much salt
In addition to flavour, salt is also used as a binder and stabiliser in food production. Salt is also a preservative because bacteria can’t survive in highly salted environments. Humans only need about 500mg daily salt intake to maintain healthy body function. It contains 40% sodium and 60% chloride.
Sodium is an electrolyte that is necessary for muscle and nerve function.
Eating too much salt can lead to the following problems.
1. Water retention
Too much salt can lead to fluid retention, which makes you bloated. It can also lead to swelling in the hands and feet. Studies show that this can lead to temporary weight gain. This is because the kidneys struggle to maintain a healthy salt-to-water ratio, and consuming too much makes the kidneys retain more water to maintain balance.
2. High blood pressure
This depends on your salt sensitivity. It refers to how salt affects your blood pressure. People with a lower salt tolerance have a higher risk of high blood pressure from consuming salt. For people who are salt-resistant, it affects their blood pressure less.
Extra salt in your food makes your body increase the blood volume flowing in your arteries. Blood pressure can increase based on genes, hormones, ageing, and obesity.
Read also: What You Need To Know About Hypertension And High Blood Pressure
Another common side effect is dry mouth or too much thirst. Because of the sodium imbalance, the body may drive you to drink more water. Too much sodium in the body leads to a condition known as hypernatremia. If you don’t take enough fluids to offset the sodium, you can leach water out of your cells into the blood. It can lead to restlessness, breathing, insomnia and less urination. This leads to seizures, confusion, coma, or death in intense situations.
Read also: Mistakes To Avoid When You Are Dehydrated
4. Increases the risk of stomach cancer
Studies show that a high salt diet increases the risk of stomach cancer. In one review of 268,000 participants, those with a median salt intake of 3g daily had a 68% higher chance of stomach cancer than those with a median salt intake of 1g. However, more research is needed to confirm why salt affects the stomach this way.
Read also: Cancer – Here Are Some Of The Causes And Symptoms To Look Out For
5. Increases the risk of heart disease
Research shows that a high sodium diet can increase blood pressure, and blood vessels and arteries stiffen. This increases the risk of heart disease and premature death.
Read also: Different Types Of Heart Disease And Managing Them
How to reduce salt intake
If you weigh 75kg, consuming 2-4 tablespoons risks a fatal salt overdose. People with chronic conditions like heart, liver and kidney disease risk death if they consume more than 1.5 tablespoons of salt daily. It’s vital to reduce the intake due to the risk.
1. Eat fewer processed foods
Processed foods like ready-to-eat meats and fried snacks contain high sodium. The maximum amount of sodium you should take daily is 2300mg. Limiting the processed snacks you eat can help you reduce your intake.
7 Healthy Snacks To Eat Throughout The Day That Are Great For Children Too
2. Cook with less salt
Check the ingredients of the spices you use. Some have high amounts of sodium, if they do, limit the amount of table salt added to the recipe.
3. Use kosher salt
Table salt has the highest amount of sodium for every teaspoon. It contains 2300mg. Fine sea salt contains 2120mg. Fine kosher salt contains 1920mg, while diamond course contains 1120mg.
Only Brazil, Chile, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Malaysia, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Spain, and Uruguay have recommended policies on reducing sodium intake. WHO has developed a sodium scorecard to motivate countries to create more measures to reduce nutrition-related deaths.
The Health Benefits Of Himalayan Salt
Foods To Eat For Healthy Kidneys
Mistakes To Avoid When You Are Dehydrated
No More Sweets For You! Why Does Your Sense Of Taste Change As You Age?