Salt – How much is too much?
Salt adds taste to the food. Salt taken in limited amount is good for health. Salt is known as sodium chloride(40% sodium-60%chloride). Our body needs sodium for muscle function and help to regulate body fluids. According to American heart association, the ideal intake should be limited to 1500 mg of sodium that is approximately around 3.75 grams of salt per day and maximum upper safe limit should not exceed no more than 2400 mg i.e approximately 1 teaspoon or 6 grams of salt per day. But on average, the salt intake is around 10 grams every day.
Signs of excess salt intake
1)Increased Thirst-Sodium plays a role in maintaining water balance in the body. Eating too much salt can cause dehydration. When there is an inadequate water intake, sodium draws water stored in the cells to maintain body fluids. This can increase thirst, signaling that body is not getting enough water.
2)Water Retention(Edema)-Excess consumption of salt can cause swelling in the body, condition known as edema i.e accumulation of fluids in the cells. When there is an excess sodium in the body, water dilutes sodium causing more fluid around the cells, in turn increases the volume of the blood causing swelling in various parts of the body like puffiness of face, fingers and feet
3)Bloating-Our body retains water when there is an excess consumption of sodium. This can lead to accumulation of fluids and can make you feel bloated.
4)Headaches- Brain needs water for many functions. Excess salt intake cause dehydration which can induce headache, nausea, sleep problems, mental confusion.
5)Craving-Taste buds get used to high salt consumption in the long run and leads to crave for more salty foods.
6)Gastric Irritation-High salt diet can cause stomach irritation.
Daily intake of salt exceeded than required amount, can pose a great risk to health causing rise in blood pressure and accumulation of fluids in the cells. Excess sodium in the blood increases the volume of blood and puts pressure on heart.Excess consumption of salt on long term can cause stroke, heart failure, stomach ulcer, affects bones, Alzheimer’s and kidney disease. Due to increased blood pressure can affect kidney function.
Tips to reduce salt intake.
- Ditch all processed foods. Basically, they are high in sodium.
- If you choose to take tinned or canned foods, make sure to rinse well to drain salt. canned foods are packed in brine solution (salt water).
- Choose fresh foods over processed and frozen foods.
- Add lemon, spices and fresh herbs to change the taste of food instead of adding more salt.
- Avoid pickles, sauces, ketchup which are high in sodium.
- Try to include more of raw, boiled veggies, use lemon or olive oil dressing to add taste.
- Read food labels and look for reduced salt and low salt foods.
- Try unsalted nuts and fresh fruits instead of salty chips for snacks.
- Finally avoid salt shakers at the dining table.