7 side effects of eating too much salt
The human body requires sodium (salt) to function properly. When salt is ingested and dispersed into the bloodstream and other fluids of the body, salt takes on many functions which include;
- Keeps the body hydrated
- Helps thyroid function properly
- Regulates the electrolytes that allow the brain to carry out electrical signals through the nerves and muscles.
- Prevents low blood pressure
- Helps with digestion.
Despite how important salt is to our body system, it’s vital we regulate our intake of salt because eating too much salt can cause a lot of unpleasant and sometimes catastrophic effects which this article will enlighten you about.
When you put too much salt in your meals, you develop a dry mouth or start feeling really thirsty making you drink a lot of water. As you take in water, your body tries to correct the sodium to water ratio.
Failing to consume fluids or water after consuming a high amount of salt may cause your sodium levels to rise higher than the safe level resulting in a condition called Hypernatremia
This condition causes water to leach into your blood from your cells in an attempt to dilute the excess sodium. This fluid shift can cause seizures, breathing and sleeping difficulty, coma, or even death if left untreated.
Increases blood pressure:
Excessive salt causes a larger blood volume to flow through your blood vessels and arteries. As your body tries to dilute the salt in the blood by holding onto water, the increased volume causes your blood pressure to increase.
Not everyone may experience these effects as research suggests that people who are salt resistant may not experience a rise in blood pressure after salt-rich meals.
Swollen body parts:
Swelling also signifies the presence of too much sodium in your body. As a result of taking in too much water, you feel bloated or puffy. Your hands, feet, face, and ankles are the major parts that get affected. This occurs because your kidneys wish to maintain specific sodium- to- water ratio in your body, so they hold on to extra water to balance the extra sodium you have taken in.
Increases risk of heart disease:
As larger blood volume flows through the arteries, they become stiff and clogged which may finally lead to an outburst which in turn will increase your risk of having heart disease and dying prematurely.
Increases risk of stomach cancer:
They’ve been several studies linking a high salt diet to a higher risk of stomach cancer.
Studies have shown that people with high salt intake may have a two times higher risk of stomach cancer than those with lower intakes.
The arteries in the brain can also become clogged or burst resulting in the cut-off of blood flow to that part of the brain. The result ranges from mild (physical and mental impairment, stroke) to severe (death) complications.
Reducing salt intake can help decrease blood pressure which automatically reduces chances of getting dementia, stroke, and other physical and mental impairment.
Osteoporosis is a condition that involves bone degeneration due to the loss of calcium in the bones. Consuming an excessive sodium diet may cause the body to excrete calcium, the more calcium you lose, the thinner your bones are, and the more they’ll keep degenerating until they break.
How much salt are you to consume per day?
Research for eating too much salt suggests that the average individual currently consumes 9 -12 grams of salt per day with processed foods being the highest contributor.
People with health conditions like liver or kidney disease or heart failure are more likely to develop fatal effects if they routinely consume more than 10 grams of sodium per day.
Based on this, health officials have generally recommended people to limit their sodium intake to 1,500 – 2,300mg per day which is equivalent to 3.8 – 5.8g or 2/3 (1 teaspoon) each day.
Have you had too much salt? If yes, here’s what you should do
To compensate for the high amount of salt in your system, consider the following steps;
- Drink sufficient water to help your body regain or achieve it’s desired sodium – to- water ratio.
- Eat foods rich in potassium like legumes, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and dairy products because potassium helps in maintaining your body’s fluid balance.
- Lastly, reduce your amount of salt intake in meals and your intake of completely processed foods(restaurant meals) as some of them contain a lot of salt.