In this post, you’ll about the health effects of eating too much salt.
Salt is a good thing. Among other things, it helps to regulate fluids in the body, improve brain development, and support blood pressure.
To help our body function, we need a moderate amount of salt to nerve, muscles, and bone development and health.
But here’s the problem:
The average person eats too much salt. In the US, UK, Canada, and Australia, the recommended daily amount of salt is at most 2.4 grams if you’re an adult.
But, regardless of those guidelines, the average adult in America is consuming almost twice that.
We’ll discuss the effects of too much salt in a moment. But first, why is salt so prevalent?
Why is there too much salt?
Since our society moved from hunters and gathers, storage has grown in importance. We need to process and store food that we cannot eat right away.
We use high amounts of salt to process and preserve food because it eliminates bacteria.
Today the food industry relies on salt for exactly that purpose.
Take for example how salt is added to bread and cheese. The added salt helps to control the rate of fermentation. In other cases, salt is used to improve the texture during baking.
But that’s not all. Salt is also used as food binders so that it keeps the meat firm during high-temperature cooking.
The food supply chain makes it nearly impossible to avoid salt. From canning to freezing food, added salt finds its way to our meal tables.
What are the types of salt?
Not all salt is the same. There are about three kinds of salt.
This is perhaps the type we are all familiar with. It has around 40 percent sodium and about 60 percent chloride.
It’s the standard table salt. If you think about all the processed, fast, and junk food, think about sodium chloride.
It’s unhealthy for a reason. Essentially the process of making this table salt is applying heat to it in a 400 degrees temperature. Then it’s further processed through bleaching and other added chemicals.
Refined ‘sea salt’
Food marketers have succeeded in getting us to believe that sea salt is good. But they often refer to process and refined sea salt.
And that also removes a lot of the nutrients from the salt. In a way, its nutritional value is similar to table salt: none.
Celtic sea salt
Authentic sea salt doesn’t come any better than this. It’s naturally harvested, mostly by hand using a technique that has lasted for thousands of years.
It doesn’t have any added chemicals. And in a way is akin to Himalayan crystal salt as far as composition and health benefits go.
If you ever had to choose which salt to add to your meals, this is the one.
So now that we know these main types of salt, what’s the big deal? What’s wrong if you consume more salt? How bad is eating too much salt?
What happens when you eat too much salt?
As we discussed, too much salt can have negative effects on our health.
Let’s look at a few of them.
1. You’ll likely to increased blood pressure
Eating too much salt leads to high blood pressure. It raises blood pressure since it holds more fluid than needed in the body.
This burdens the heart, making it work harder.
Besides, a systematic review on salt intake revealed that the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke increase with high salt intake.
2. You’re likely to lose bone strength
Overeating salt increases the amount of calcium excreted through urination.
This means that high sodium food can cause a calcium shortage. When that happens, one is likely to develop osteoporosis.
With the increased salt intake, it’s not surprising that the National Osteoporosis Foundation reports that approximately 10 million Americans have Osteoporosis. Also, another 44 million have low bone density.
A study on menopausal women revealed that a decrease in the density of hip bone was associated with sodium excretion.
Thus, excess sodium intake increases calcium loss from bone, resulting in bone thinning.
3. You’re at risk of stomach cancer
Studies have linked eating too much salt to stomach cancer.
According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, added salt irritates the stomach lining over time.
Whether it’s in salt-preserved foods like vegetables, fish, and meat, too much of it is not good. This irritation increases the chances of developing stomach cancer.
Swelling of knees, kidney problems, and bloating are other health risks associated with consuming too much sodium.