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Advice on salt intake

I have a habit of taking extra salt in my diet which I am trying to remove, what are the disadvantages of high salt intake and how can they be cured?
(April 6, 2008)

Salt intake per day

Salt is a key ingredient in cooking. It imparts flavor, enhances color and is an essential part of any seasoning. It is difficult to imagine certain foods without their salty, delicious taste.

In fact, sodium from salt is essential for our body in small amounts. It helps to balance bodily fluids, transmit nerve signals and even regulates muscle function. Unfortunately, high salt intake effects include fluid retention, high blood pressure, kidney failure and other heart conditions.
How do we decide how much is too much?  What should the ideal salt intake per day constitute?

Doctors and dieticians recommend 2300 mg of sodium as salt intake per day for a healthy adult.

If you are suffering from conditions brought on by high sodium levels, you should cut your salt intake per day to 1500 mg of sodium. These numbers are still the higher limit. If your body is sensitive to sodium, it is best to stay on the lower side.

Understanding the high salt intake effects on our body can help to monitor our sodium needs. Consult a doctor or a dietician before you go on a low salt diet. Find out the recommended salt intake per day for your lifestyle. Also, note that eliminating salt from your diet is unadvisable, since your body does require a minimal quantity of sodium for daily functions.

How to reduce salt intake

•   It is difficult to control your salt intake per day if you are fond of salty treats. Many processed foods contain high levels of sodium. Used as either garnishes or preservatives, processed foods like string cheese, chips, jerky meats, even salted nuts and trail mixes can dramatically increase your salt intake per day by almost double.
•   Ditch the processed food aisle and head to the fresh produce section. Fresh fruits and vegetables are low in sodium. While buying meat and poultry, try to stick to fresh cuts instead of luncheon meats or cured meats. Cured meats like bacon, salami and flavored ham slices contain increased levels of salt. Take time to read the label or ask your butcher for low sodium options.
•   Replace regular foods and condiments with the low sodium variety to reduce intake of salt per day. Pasta sauces, soy sauce, ketchup, chicken or vegetable broth- all come in low sodium varieties. Some processed foods are also available in low sodium varieties.
•   Avoid the temptation to add salt to your cooked food. Pass the table salt habit and encourage yourself and your family to substitute salty snacks with fresh fruits.
•   Rev up your daily meals with a wide variety of herbs and fresh spices. Citrus juices and zesty vinaigrettes can add a delicious touch to your salad, eliminating the need for more salt.

When cutting back on your intake of salt per day, start gradually. Most people notice that as they cut back on salt in their food, they may dislike it at first. However, gradually their taste buds adjust to it.

The taste for salt is an acquired habit and one that is hard to break. A low salt diet can help you lead a healthy lifestyle with great benefits for your heart and kidneys.

 Causes of High Salt Intake

Before telling you the disadvantages of the same, I would like to emphasise on ways of putting an end to the same. Avoid salt in the dining table. Slightly reduce the use of salt while cooking. 'Low salt' products are used. Replace salt with herbs, such as oregano, basil, lemon juice and garlic. Decrease the intake of processed and preserved foods.
Lastly, your knowledge on the devastating effects of increased salt will help you automatically decrease it.

Increase in dietary salt results in hypertension. It affects the cardiac health, by increasing the risk of stroke. It affects the renal and coronary arteries and results in deterioration of the kidneys. Stomach carcinoma and osteoporosis are common in individuals with high dietary salt. Research reveals the derogatory effect of slat in asthmatics. Processed foods contribute to seventy five per cent of the salt in our diet.

Increased salt or sodium intake is associated with other conditions, such as left ventricular hypertrophy, renal stones, cardiac failure, gastric cancer and oedema. Increased dietary salt parallely raises the calcium excretion, thereby contributing to osteoporosis. This in turn, increases the risk of bone fracture. Electrolyte balance is disturbed by increased sodium or decreased body water. This results in hypernaetremia, which is lethal.

Submitted by E L on April 6, 2008 at 05:45


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