Do you know the health effects of salt?
Salt not only enhances food flavour, but is necessary for important bodily functions such as regulating blood flow and managing digestion.
However, too much salt can lead to disastrous health problems, the most serious being a heightened risk of heart attacks.
Around the world we are eating too much salt, often unknowingly. Hidden salts are contained in everything from store-bought muffins and packaged sauces to canned soup and processed meats.
Even a loaf of bread isn’t safe – just two slices can contain 15% of the recommended daily salt intake for adults, the National Health Foundation states.
Here’s what eating too much salt can do to your body
Ever wondered why you get thirsty after eating popcorn? Sodium requires water to balance it out and when it lacks water, it uses the water in our cells – leading to dehydration.
Here’s how you can stay hydrated during the day.
High Blood Pressure
If you have been consuming high amounts of salt for a long period of time, you are likely to have increased blood pressure from a lack of oxygen reaching the heart.
The harder your heart works to get air and nutrients, the greater your risk of a heart attack or stroke.
Too much salt can result in edema, a condition caused by fluid retention that is characterised by puffy cheeks, eyes, arms and legs.
Edema isn’t a serious condition but certainly irritating, and a good sign you are consuming too much sodium.
Poor Kidney Function
Health Foundation nutritionist Maria Packard says “Salt does affect the amount of fluid that is retained by the body and this certainly cannot only affect the heart by increasing the blood pressure but other vessels such as your kidneys.”
Kidneys need a moderate level of sodium in the body in order to function properly, so too much prevents them from working effectively.
Excessive salt consumption has been connected to gastric stomach ulcers, a study in health journal Gut found. Salt damages the stomach lining through the process metaplasia.
After just 30 minutes of eating a meal high in sodium, blood flow slows greatly, a study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reveals.
Not only do the arteries pump blood more slowly, the function of the cells lining the artery can become impaired.