Did you know that the term “salary” originates from the practice of Roman soldiers receiving a portion of their payment in the form of salt? Salt holds significant historical significance as it enabled the preservation of meat and played a crucial role in shaping world history. Additionally, salt plays a vital role in maintaining optimal bodily functions. Insufficient salt intake can pose risks to your health.
On the other hand, it is worth noting that the majority of Americans consume excessive amounts of salt in their everyday diets. This is largely due to the generous use of salt in processed, canned, and frozen meals, which is intended to enhance the flavor of the food.
What happens if you eat too much salt? The results can be disastrous and some of them might even surprise you.
1. Kidney Disease
When you consume excessive amounts of salt, your body tends to retain water. This is because your body is attempting to maintain a balance in the salt-to-water ratio by holding on to more water.
As a result, your kidneys are put under additional strain as they work harder to filter out the excess water from your system. The increased water volume in your bloodstream can lead to elevated pressure within your arteries, placing stress on the arteries connected to your kidneys.
Over time, this prolonged strain on the arteries can cause damage and contribute to the development of kidney disease. If left untreated, kidney failure may occur, necessitating costly and invasive medical interventions to sustain life.
2. High Blood Pressure
When your body retains water to dilute the salt in your blood, it leads to an increase in blood pressure. Blood pressure is a measure of the effort required by your heart to pump blood through your arteries.
In response to this increased pressure, the small muscles in your arteries become thicker and stronger. Consequently, the space within the arteries narrows, further elevating blood pressure. Over time, these arteries can either burst, resulting in immediate fatality, or become clogged, leading to organ damage and eventual death.
The bursting of arteries can have severe consequences, while the blockage of arteries disrupts the normal flow of blood, which is crucial for the proper functioning of organs. It’s important to be aware of the potential risks associated with elevated blood pressure caused by excessive salt intake.
3. Heart Attacks
Elevated blood pressure resulting from increased salt intake can cause damage to the arteries of the heart. One common initial symptom of such damage is angina, characterized by sharp pain experienced during physical activity. If the lack of blood supply and oxygen to the heart continues, it can lead to further deterioration of the heart muscle.
Furthermore, excessive salt consumption can eventually contribute to the occurrence of either burst or clogged arteries. When a section of the heart no longer receives adequate blood flow, it can lead to a heart attack, causing significant damage.
Reducing salt intake plays a crucial role in slowing down the progression of heart disease. However, it is important to note that insufficient salt can also be associated with heart disease. If you have any questions or concerns, it is advisable to consult your doctor for personalized advice and guidance.
4. Brain Issues
Increased blood pressure damages brain arteries. If cells don’t get enough oxygen, they either die or don’t function as well. This can lead to dementia.
As in the heart, brain arteries can become clogged or burst, resulting in a stoke. When this happens, blood flow to parts of the brain is cut off and that part dies. Results can range from mild physical and mental impairments to death.
Controlling blood pressure by decreasing salt intake can reduce chances of dementia and stroke.
The link between salt and cancer are a bit tenuous, but it exists. Higher intakes of salt /sodium / salty food are linked to stomach cancer.
Whether it is salt or a generally unhealthy diet low in fruit and vegetables is unclear. However, people who eat more salt/salty foods tend to have higher levels of H. pylori, a bacterium that is linked to stomach cancer.
Salt is also linked to obesity and obesity to cancer. Decreasing salt could lower cancer risk.
Osteoporosis is the thinning of bones with age. There are many causes of osteoporosis from lack of exercise to drinking sodas. However, the more salt eaten, the more calcium is lost.
The more calcium you lose, the thinner your bones are and the more likely they are to break. Reducing salt while increasing food-based calcium and Vitamin D can slow osteoporosis.
Americans get about 4,000 mg of salt a day, resulting in roughly 80 mg of calcium lost a day.
Salt tastes good! We are programmed to seek out salt to help our bodies function. The problem is that we get almost twice the recommended daily intake of salt, mostly (75%) from processed foods.
With all the known health risks, cutting back on salt make sense. Rinse canned foods like beans, cut salt in recipes in half, remove the salt shaker from the table, and cut back on processed foods.
High blood pressure is known as a silent killer because many people with high blood pressure don’t realize it until it is too late. Have your blood pressure checked and then put the brakes on your salt intake. You’ll be heathier and feel better in the long run.