It’s recommended that we consume no more than 2,300mg of salt every day, yet the average Brit is consuming up to nearly 9g of the stuff and we’re putting ourselves at risk of a whole load of dangerous side effects. Now, it’s important to note that small amounts of salt are essential to our overall health and wellbeing and it’s almost impossible to avoid salt due to its every increasing appearance on the supermarket shelves. However, by opting to make smarter choices we can dramatically lessen our risk of these affects and put ourselves back on the road to optimum health. Do you know what salt’s doing to you? Here’s 10 reasons why too much salt is bad for your health.
High blood pressure
Blood pressure is the amount of pressure that blood puts on your artery walls as it’s moving around your body. There’s many different factors which all constitute towards high blood pressure such as being overweight, being sedentary and especially a die rich with salt. High blood pressure can be nasty and increase your risk of heart attacks and strokes. It’s suggested that around a third of adults in the UK have high blood pressure and a large proportion don’t even know they have it as many symptons can go unnoticed. If you’re unsure of your readings, we’d recommend to have your GP check it out and monitor it frequently to know your numbers. Don’t put yourself at risk, exercise more and keep your salt intake down.
Sticking to the point about high blood pressure, did you know that hypertension is the single most important risk factor for strokes? A stroke occurs when the flow of blood to the brain is cut off, reducing delivery of oxygenated blood and causing cells to die. A diet high in salt can significantly increase your risk of high blood pressure and therefore increase the likelihood of a stroke. It’s a common notion that high blood pressure and strokes are a natural part of the aging process and you’re not in control of your health as your age. However, by keeping blood pressure in check, exercising and living a healthy lifestyle, many of these strokes could have been prevented.
Ever find yourself suffering with bloating? You may be holding onto excess water through a high salt diet. Salt draws water into the cells and can hold onto as much as 1.5 litres of it! Particular women who suffer from chronic bloating could see an improvement in salt reduction.
Coronary heart disease
Coronary heart disease or CHD is what happens when the heart’s blood supply is reduced or blocked leading to heart attacks or complete heart failure. CHD is also the UK’s biggest killer, with one in every four men dying from it and one in every four women.
Like many other listed risks, high blood pressure is one of the of the main factors of CHD. The surrounding cells which carry the blood become thick, restricting the ease of blood flow around the body and back to the heart. Overtime, this can cause the heart to thicken and reduce its ability to effectively supply the body with oxygenated blood, causing heart failure.
Raised blood pressure is a major risk factor for CHD. It causes the walls of blood vessels to become thick so that the blood vessels become too narrow and can’t carry enough blood to the heart. Over time this can lead to a thickening of the heart muscle, reducing the heart’s ability to pump blood around the body, leading to heart failure – where not enough blood is carried around the body. The good news? Dropping your salt intake can cut your risk of heart attacks by as much as a quarter!
Osteoporosis or brittle bone disease is caused through the progressive thinking and weakening of the bones which make them more susceptible to breaks and fractures. It’s indicated that around three million people suffer from osteoporosis. One in two women and one in five men are likely to break a bone after the age 0f 50 due to poor bone health.
We all know that calcium can help build big and strong bones. It’s not known knowledge however, that a diet high in salt can cause calcium to be lost from bones and excreted in the urine, making bones weaker and more likely to break. High blood pressure can further increase the speed in which calcium is lost through the bones. It’s important to state that a high salt diet isn’t the only risk factor in the development of osteoporosis. Older people are at risk because of the thinning of the bones which naturally occurs through the aging process. Postmenopausal women are also at risk due to the drop in oestrogen which is associated with the protection of bone health. That isn’t a reason to not look after your health and neglect considering a low salt, healthy diet.
It’s not just your bones and heart that are at risk when eating a diet high in salt. Stomach cancer is on the rise and studies indicate that a quarter of the 7000 new cases each year can be attributed to the intake of salt. Although the salt isn’t the direct cause of the cancer, it can damage the lining of the stomach which makes it more vulnerable to cancer causing inflammation and ulcers. Salt can also spur the growth and action of bacterium which is likely to cause damage to cells.
Obesity is one the rise and there’s a lot more side effects of obesity than you probably realise. Although salt itself doesn’t make you obese as such a high salt diet is typically found in foods rich in sugar and fat, typical among obese people. Salt can also make you thirsty which may cause cravings for sugary, fizzy drinks which can attribute towards further weight gain. This is a particular problem among teenagers as a third of the fluids they’re consuming are sugary soft drinks.
Asthma is a condition which affects the lungs and restapriory system and causes difficulties in breathing for the sufferer. In some studies, salt have been shown to intensify the symptoms and it’s recommended that if you suffer from asthma to replace salt dense foods with healthier alternatives.
Dementia is a loss of brain and cognitive function that affects memory, thinking, language, judgement and everyday behaviour. Dementia can be the result of many factors including unfavourable hereditary background. Vascular dementia is a common form of dementia which is caused through the blockage of a blood vessel in the brain after experiencing a stroke. High salt intake is linked to high blood pressure which increases the risk of stroke and therefore increases the risk of vascular dementia. Good blood pressure regulation in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle (that means monitoring salt intake) and regular exercise can go a long way in reducing the risk of dementia. It’s suggested that these factors early on in life can be a hugely powerful tool in preventative methods later in life.
Kidney stones and kidney disease
If you’re not put off by salt at this stage, this one might make you change your mind. High salt diets and high blood pressure can cause too much calcium to be excreted by the kidneys into urine, leading to a build up of calcium and therefore kidney stones. They’re typically very painful and can potentially even lead to kidney disease. Kidneys are responsible for controlling fluid balance and a high salt diet can put excessive strain on the kidneys leading to kidney disease.
If you know any other reasons why too much salt is bad for your health, please leave your comments below. Also, if you liked this blog, we have tonnes more like this, head over to our blog section to check it out!