Salt is one of the most basic needs of the human body and we have special receptors even on the tongue to detect salt. Salt is composed of sodium and Chloride and these are the elements which form the electrolyte balance. The body needs salt in very minute quantities and it is less than 2 grams per day.
In today’s times when we see the average consumption of salt in societies, it can be anything between 10grams per day to 20 grams per day depending on the foods and beverages we consume. As a thumb rule the more processed foods we consume, the higher are the chances that we end up over-consuming the salt.
There are several side effects of over-consuming salt and they have shown to have serious implications on the body if people continue to consume high levels of salt for several years.
Some of the serious diseases connected to the over-consumption of salt are as follows:
1. Cardiac Problems and Stroke
High salt diets have an adverse effect on the blood vessels and heart due to the increased instances connected to the thickening of arteries and the reduced blood supply to the heart and brain. Many heart attacks are due to a blockage of the major vessel due to the continuous collection of the sediments and finally, a plaque (tissue block) is created which stops the blood supply. The major cases of the stroke or heart attack are related to a problem of sudden cessation of the blood supply to the heart or brain.
2. Kidney Stone and other Disorders
The body has a finely regulated process by which the extra salts are cleaned out from the body so that the acid-alkali balance is maintained. When we continuously eat a very high salt diet, the kidney is pushed to its limit to flush the extra salts away from the body, thus affecting the kidney function. The problem of kidney stones is also connected to excessive salt in the diet. High Blood Pressure coupled with high salt intake can lead to high levels of calcium being flushed out in order to balance the salt.
The bones are adversely affected if a lot of high salt foods are consumed as the calcium is used up due to the acidic condition created by the excessive salt intake.
4. Bloating and Water Retention
As we have all seen that whenever we take salt, it results in a lot of bloating. It is because the body tissues have an excess of salt within itself, the body tries to dilute the acidic effect by holding more water so that the tissues are not damaged. Due to water retention, the tissues get stretched and the micro supply also gets affected. Over a long period of time, constant water retention spots the skin elasticity and shape.
Hence, controlling salt intake is very important, especially for children, expecting mothers and people over 35 years of age.
Some of the foods very high in salt and hence to be controlled are all kinds of packaged foods, aerated drinks (have very high sugar and salt content ), salted cheese, premixed packs, ready to eat products, pickles, savoury foods, ketchup and sauces.
As published in Hindustan Times Brunch