By Amanda Morgan
Do you know how much salt you are consuming daily? The average American consumes 3,592 mg of sodium per day while the daily recommended value is only 2,300 mg. This information was shared by the Center for Disease Control and exemplifies a serious problem sweeping the nation. Salt consumption has skyrocketed and been a main contributor to many of the health problems plaguing the nation. You may think that this cannot possible be you as you always eat healthy even when you go out to restaurants. Did you know that the salad at some restaurants have been found to contain an absurd amount of salt in it? Read this article to find out how salt can ruin your health and why you should monitor your salt levels.
1) High Blood Pressure
One of the most well-known effects of a high salt diet is high blood pressure. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, occurs when the pressure in a person’s arteries rises above the normal level. Salt is composed of sodium which causes the body to retain water and put more strain on the heart and blood vessels. In order to avoid salt, try making your food at home and stop eating out. This way you will always know the exactly the amount of salt that is going into the food. Also avoid pre-packaged and canned foods as they usually contain high amounts of sodium for packaging purposes. The foods you eat really make a difference to your health, especially when trying to control high blood pressure. Eat natural foods including vegetables and fruits and you will feel like a new person.
Are you struggling to lose weight? While you may be inclined to blame sugar, salt may be the actual culprit of your weight gain. A direct link between salt intake and weight has recently been discovered. This link was found to hold true in both children and adults, further validating the study. If you are currently struggling with your weight, this may be what has been preventing you from seeing positive results. While you may be tempted to eliminate all sodium from your diet, it is important to remember that sodium plays a critical role in your body. By removing all the sodium and salt in your life, you may do more harm. Slowly reduce the amount of salt your food contains until you are down to the recommended amount. Your doctor will be able to better guide you with this process.
3) Stomach Pain
It is important to listen to what your body is telling you. If you find that when you eat foods high in sodium you start to experience stomach pain, then this is a clear sign to stop. This pain can be caused by the retention of water that occurs when you eat salt. Ultimately, this will lead to an uncomfortable, bloated feeling. Even more serious however is the connection that has been discovered between salt and stomach cancer. Every year seven thousand new cases of stomach cancer are diagnosed and about a quarter of those can be contributed to high sodium. This illustrates the unnecessary risk eating large quantities of salt can have on your body. While this is not the only factor of stomach cancer, it is a large contributor and something that you can control over in dietary intake.
After consuming peanuts, canned foods, or cold cuts you may feel bloated and be confused as to why. The good news is that you are not making this feeling up. Salt causes the body to retain water and will cause you to become bloated. Another side effect of eating foods high in salt is the parched sensation you feel which causes you to drink more water, and feel even more bloated. It is never pleasant to feel bloated and many people start to feel uncomfortable. This is especially hard when you are in public and cannot leave to return home and rest. An easy way to avoid this feeling is to monitor the foods you eat throughout the day and eat a balanced diet. While bloating eventually goes away, ideally it is a feeling you would like to avoid.
5) Heart Problems
The heart is one of the most important muscles in your body. It is important that you are always doing your best to take care of it. The amount of salt in your diet may be causing unintentional harm to your heart which can be dangerous in the long run. This occurs because high amounts of salt increases blood pressure which in turn increases your risk for a heart attack and other heart complications. In order to counteract all of the salt you consume, you should eat foods high in potassium like bananas and avocado. Potassium causes the opposite effect of salt by helping the body to dilate the blood vessels. In an ideal world, a person’s diet would contain more potassium than salt, however this is not the case for most Americans.
6) Neural Complications
Protect your brain as you grow older by reducing your sodium intake. High amounts of salt over a prolong period of time have been connected to an increased risk in cognitive diseases. Currently it is believed that salt “reprograms” the brain by preventing function of vasopressin neurons. These neurons are critical in detecting artery pressure throughout the body. While this connection is not fully understood at this point in time, it is important to take it into consideration when making decisions about your diet. It is suggested that individuals consume the recommended amount of sodium per day while maintaining a regular exercise routine. The exercise does not need to be intense and can consist of simply walking. Both a change in diet and increased physical activity will help you to keep your brain in optimal shape.
7) Kidney Issues
The kidneys are sensitive and can be thrown off very easily. This organ plays a crucial role in the body by removing unwanted fluids. The kidneys are only able to do this effectively when the entire system is in balance. When sodium levels get too high they disrupt the system and the body retains excess fluid. This can lead to conditions like high blood pressure. When the kidneys are put under this much strain for a long period of time a condition known as kidney disease can occur. One of the unfortunately outcomes of kidney disease is kidney failure. Kidney failure is a serious condition and can be fatal if not treated right away. Protect your kidneys and help them to continue doing their best work by monitoring your salt intake.
Foods high in salt are actually one of the worst things for your skin. Salt will make your skin look puffy, especially under your eyes. High salt consumption will be most obvious around the eyes because the skin is thinner than on the rest of your body. They say that the eyes are the windows to the soul and when your eyes look worn so do you. In general, when your skin looks puffy it will cause you to appear older. In today’s day and age, everyone is trying to look 10 years younger by making their skin glow. Salt will prevent you from getting the results you desire. Next time you decide what to eat, ditch the excessive salty foods and people will be begging you to tell them your secret.
9) Liver Cirrhosis
Liver Cirrhosis occurs when liver disease progresses and leads to scaring of the liver. Some common symptoms of liver cirrhosis are appearing jaundice, lack of appetite, and fatigue. If left untreated for a period of time it will cause serious complications and leave lasting damage on the liver. The liver is responsible for filtering the blood in your body and metabolizing drugs. Without a liver you cannot survive. On the bright side, one of the most amazing things about the liver is it can regenerate. This is a unique feature of the liver and means that any damage done to it can be reversed eventually. A diet high in salt will cause a person to have an increased risk for liver disease and liver cirrhosis. Doctors have always recommended that people with liver conditions eat a low sodium diet to protect their liver.
10) Trouble Sleeping
1:00am, 2:00pm, 3:00am, 4:00am. How often are you awake to see these times appear on the clock? If the answer is at least once a week, you may be noticing that you are having great difficulty sleeping. It is imperative to get a good night sleep every night. Sleep helps your body to function properly and maintain homeostasis. When you sleep, you feel more refreshed, look healthier, and are more aware cognitively. If sleep seems to be eluding you, it may be caused by a high sodium diet. Salt causes a hormone known as cortisol to rise in the body. This hormone causes people to feel more awake and prevents people from entering a deep sleep. Without entering this deep sleep people feel more tired when the wake up than before they went to bed. Next time, make sure to skip that salted pretzel and you will thank yourself when you go to sleep.
Salt will not cause you to develop asthma. However, for people who already suffer from asthma, it is believed that a high salt diet will aggravate symptoms. People who eat a lot of salt and are diagnosed with asthma have more trouble moving the oxygen from their lungs into their body compared to people who have asthma but eat a low salt diet. This will cause people to feel light headed and have an even harder time catching their breath. Research is currently being conducted to find the direct cause and options for future treatment. For now, the recommended advice is to lower your salt intake if you have asthma and be aware of what you eat. Limiting the salt in your diet does not take the place of using an inhaler, however.