In our daily life salt is an essential ingredient added in the nutritious food that we eat. It makes the food more palatable and tasty. Salt is also considered to be a natural preservative because it reduces growth of micro-organisms; hence we add it in food that is meant to be stored for a longer time.
As someone has rightly quoted “too much of anything is bad”, the proverb is also relevant for salt intake. Researchers have suggested that eating excess of salt regularly is detrimental for human health. It increases the risk of high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack and cancer.
Consuming excess of salt in daily food is especially risky for people over the age of 50, those who have mild hypertension, people suffering from diabetes, heart and kidney disease.
How Does Consuming Excess Of Salt Affect Your Health?
The kidneys work continuously to flush out toxins and keep balance of salts in the body. Consuming too much of salt in diet regularly causes kidneys to work harder. Some amount of excess of sodium chloride is retained in the blood. However, it needs to be diluted and therefore the body starts storing water. Thus the amount of fluid is increased around the cells and also in the blood.
Increase of blood volume makes the heart work more. It also produces more pressure of the walls of blood vessels. Constant pressure in the vessel wall will cause stiffening of arteries which will increase blood pressure. It also increases the risk of stroke and heart failure.
Consequence Of Chronic Intake Of Excess Of Salt
- Hypertension: Intake of sodium chloride (salt) has been linked to hypertension. It is a known fact that people suffering from high blood pressure should reduce intake of salt. It helps to lower the blood pressure. High blood pressure leads to increase cardiac load. It makes the heart to work more. Thus patients in a long run may develop cardiac failure. High blood pressure also increases the risk of heart attack.
- Osteoporosis: With increased accumulation of salt in the system, kidney tries to flush it out through urine. It means together with salt, calcium in blood is also lost considerably. To suffice the loss, calcium is absorbed from the bones. Subsequently it will lead to weak bones and a condition called osteoporosis.
- Stroke: Stroke occurs when the blood supply to brain cells is disrupted. In absence of blood the brain cells die. High blood pressure is one of the commonest causes of stroke. Intake of high amount of salt is a contributor for the rise of blood pressure. Salt is therefore indirectly responsible for stroke.
- Stomach cancer: High consumption of salty food can increase the risk of stomach cancer. H. pylori bacteria present in stomach are known to cause stomach ulcers. H. pylori bacteria cause inflammatory changes which in turn lead to stomach ulcers and stomach cancer. Too much of salt will erode the lining of stomach. It will allow the bacteria to invade deeply in the stomach lining.
- Kidney stones: Most of the kidney stones are calcium stones. High intake of salt will result in excretion of excess of calcium from the kidney via urine. It leads to build up calcium in kidney and thus formation of calcium stones.
- Water retention: Intake of too much of salty food regularly will cause retention of water. Women who experience bloating, breast tenderness before menses will feel better if they reduce the intake of salt seven to ten days before the menstrual period.