It’s no secret that a large percentage of the population in the developed world are guilty of consuming far too much salt on a daily basis. We use salt for seasoning our food, it is in marinades, it is in sauces, we often sprinkle it over our food before eating it, and for many of us, we don’t pay this a second thought. A little salt each day is perfectly fine, in fact, it is recommended as we require some sodium chloride (salt) to function healthily and correctly. The problem is that people aren’t sure how much salt they should be consuming, and unfortunately, they end up taking in way too much, which can then have a very negative effect on their health. But why should we try to cut back on the amount of salt we consume? Well, here’s a look at some of the negative effects too much salt can have on your health.
Hypertension is the scientific term for high blood pressure, and it is responsible for thousands of deaths worldwide, every single year. Hypertension is often referred to as ‘the silent killer’ because it can be very difficult to detect. Your blood pressure is basically defined as being the total amount of pressure being placed on your blood vessels, by your blood, as it is being pumped and carried around the body. Studies have found that too much salt can severely elevate a person’s blood pressure, which in turn can lead to other chronic conditions such as: renal failure, stroke, damaged blood vessels, and heart attack, to name just a few. This is why people diagnosed with hypertension, are instructed by doctors to cut way back on the amount of salt that they consume.
Studies have also found that diets rich in salt can put you at a much greater risk of suffering from cardiovascular disease, and other heart-related illnesses. You see, hypertension has been found to be a catalyst for what is known as left ventricular hypertrophy, which to you and I, is enlargement of muscle tissue found in the wall of the heart’s primary blood pumping chamber. Not only, that, but studies have also found that individuals can suffer from left ventricular hypertrophy, even if their blood pressure was considered normal, if they were consuming too much salt on a regular basis. Left ventricular hypertrophy is a very serious condition as it can put you at a much greater risk of a heart attack, of heart failure, of cardiac arrest, and of an abnormal heart rhythm.
Osteoporosis is a very serious condition in which the bones become thin and brittle, making them more prone to breaking and becoming damaged. Calcium is a mineral that strengthens the bones and is stored within them, and this is where the dangers of salt once again rear their ugly heads. You see, salt can cause calcium to leech from the bones and to be expelled in our urine. Less calcium in the bones means that they become weaker and more prone to osteoporosis.
So how much salt should we consume?
For grown adults, no more than 6 grams of salt should be consumed each day, which is roughly one heaped teaspoon. Children should consume between 2 and 5 grams per day.