According to Paracelsus, “all things are poisons, for there is nothing without poisonous qualities. It is only the dose which makes a thing poison”
The human body needs salt; however, a little bit of it is needed every day for the sodium it contains.
Sodium is an essential mineral needed for the proper functioning of the human body. Particularly, it regulates volumes of fluids in the body and aids the uptake of essential nutrients into the body’s cells.
What’s more, the acid-base balance of the body is regulated by sodium. Unfortunately, the human body cannot produce sodium and as such you need to take in sodium through the food you eat.
However, an excess of this sodium can be harmful to your health. Excess sodium promotes water retention which adds to the water weight in the body.
About 5 – 6 grams of salt is recommended for a day. More than this recommended quantity is harmful to your overall health and can cause harmful effects to your body.
As you read on, you will see the reasons why you should limit your salt intake.
1. Damages Kidneys
As earlier mentioned, your body needs just a little amount of sodium to maintain a proper fluid balance. But excess sodium can be destructive to your kidneys.
When you take in excess salt, your kidneys retain water in order to dilute this electrolyte in your bloodstream to help your heart function properly.
This reaction places a heavy load on the kidneys and affects renal function.
A 2002 study published in the Journal of Nephrology reports that limitation of sodium intake is an important preventive and therapeutic measure in patients with chronic renal diseases of various origins, as well as those at risk of renal damage, such as diabetic and hypertensive patients.
Another research published in 2012 in Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation reveals that even a slight reduction of dietary sodium in renal patients is associated with lower blood pressure, lower protein excretion and better outcomes.
Although information on the effect of salt intake on the course of kidney disease is incomplete, numerous reports point to the direction that high salt intake aggravates long-term outcomes.
2. Increases Blood Pressure
Hypertension is a leading cause of cardiovascular disease worldwide, and excessive salt intake is one of the leading causes of high blood pressure.
When there is an increase in sodium level, there is also a corresponding decrease in the synthesis of nitric oxide.
What this means is that the blood flow experiences more resistance because the blood vessels are too constricted.
A 2014 study published in Electrolytes & Blood Pressure reports that a reduction of dietary salt intake can decrease the number of death resulting from hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and strokes.
In contrary, a 2016 study published by McMaster University reveals that a low-salt diet may be beneficial and may actually increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and death compared to average salt consumption.
The emphasis was that only people who need to worry about reducing sodium in their diet are those with hypertension who have high salt consumption.
3. Weakens Bones
Excessive dietary intake of salt can be bad for your bone.
They can cause a loss of calcium from your bones when taken in excess. Calcium is an essential mineral needed for strong and healthy bones.
When the bones lose calcium, it becomes weaker and can break (fracture) much more easily. This, in turn, increased your risk of osteoporosis.
4. Leads to Edema
Excessive salt intake can cause the kidneys to retain fluid, which can lead to water retention or edema.
This occurs because the kidneys assume that the body needs more fluid to compensate for the decreased blood flow.
In addition, high sodium intake can lead to an electrolyte imbalance, a leading cause of edema.
Although edema can occur in any part of the body, they most often affect the hands, ankles, legs and feet. Edema can affect your daily activities.
A decrease in salt intake can prove effective in treating edema.
5. Increases Risk of Stomach Cancer
High salt intake has been associated with a higher risk of stomach cancer.
The World Cancer Research Fund and American Institute for Cancer Research reveal that salt, as well as salted and salty foods, are one of the leading causes of stomach cancer.
It is discovered that a high-salt diet may induce gene activity in the stomach bacteria Helicobacter pylori, making the symptoms of stomach cancer more severe.
What’s more, high sodium intake may also make cancer treatment less effective.
A study published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology reports that cutting back on salt and salted food consumption is a practical strategy for preventing gastric cancer.
Also, another study published in Cancer Treatment and Research confirms a strong adverse effect of total salt intake and salt-rich foods on the risk of gastric cancer in the general population.
You should avoid adding salt to your foods if you are already suffering from a stomach ulcer.
6. May Trigger Asthma
Asthma, which can affect both young and old, can greatly reduce one’s quality of life. One of the vital ways of managing asthma is dieting.
You should also know that salt intake can trigger an asthma flare-up.
It is also worthy of note that, asthmatic patients are prone to have an increased risk of cardiovascular, bone, renal and other diseases, and as such, following a low-salt diet will be of immense help.
A 2010 study published in Physician and Sports Medicine reveals that maintaining a low-sodium diet for 7 to 14 days decreases bronchoconstriction in response to exercise in individuals with asthma.
The study, however, concludes that a low-salt diet can serve as a therapeutic option for adults with asthma.
Importantly, this should be considered as an adjunctive intervention to supplement optimal pharmacotherapy and not as an alternative.
7. Increase Risk of Obesity
A high-salt diet can also lead to obesity since people with higher sodium intake tend to consume more calories. Additionally, sodium intake itself is directly linked to obesity.
A 2006 study published in Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases shows that an increase in sodium intake leads to a corresponding increase in thirst. This leads to increased intake of high-calorie beverages, which ultimately cause obesity.
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