The mineral that consists mostly of sodium chloride (NaCl), or better known as salt, is what we use to season food by increasing flavor, but also to preserve food can also stop bacteria from growing. Then again, in recent years, salt has been linked to heart disease, high blood pressure and even stomach cancer. More so, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend controlling sodium consumption to below 2,300 mg daily.
The question now is, whether salt is bad or not. This article will try to shed some light on that problem.
The importance of salt for our bodies
The two minerals that salt consists of, namely sodium and chloride are essential to our health. For instance, sodium is involved in muscle contractions and losses through sweat or fluid can contribute to muscle cramps in athletes. Sodium can also maintain nerve function and tightly regulate both blood volume and blood pressure. Then again, chloride is the second most abundant electrolyte in the blood after sodium. Electrolytes are atoms found in bodily fluid that carry an electrical charge and are essential to everything from nerve impulses to fluid balance. Low levels of chloride can lead to a disorder called respiratory acidosis in which carbon dioxide builds up in the blood, causing the blood to become more acidic.
Even though both of sodium and chloride are significant, research studies has come to the view that individuals could react differently to sodium. That means that some might experience high blood pressure or even bloating with increased sodium consumption. These are people that can described as being salt-sensitive. They also need to monitor their intake of salt much more careful.
The risk of stomach cancer due to salt
There could be an associated risk that salt could lead to stomach cancer, if the research is correct. What has been argued is that salt increases the growth of Helicobacter pylori, a sort of bacteria related with a greater risk of stomach cancer.
The believe is that salt can increase your blood pressure, and lowering your salt intake could make your blood pressure drop.
The concern, however, is that high blood pressure can cause extra strain on the heart and is one of the risk factors for heart disease. Still, those who are salt-sensitive are more likely to see a decrease in blood pressure with a low-salt diet, while those with normal blood pressure may not see much of an impact.
Nonetheless, it is unclear how beneficial this reduction in blood pressure may be, as low salt intake has not been associated with a decreased risk of heart disease or death.
High salt diet could lead to increase risks of heart disease
Research has shown that you can lower your risk of developing a high pressure by reducing your salt intake. But there is no link between a reduced salt intake diet and a decrease of the risk of developing a heart attack. That said, some people act differently on a high salt diet. Since the studies has shown that, only overweight people could benefit if they reduce their salt intake. In addition, people that have heart failure could benefit with a 159% decreased risk of dying.
Nonetheless, it is safe to say that reducing salt intake does not automatically decrease the risk of heart disease or death for everyone.
Lack of salt could lead to negative side effects
Research has shown a link between a high salt diet and several health complications. However, the research studies have also linked a too low salt intake to some negative side effects. These effects could include an increased risk of blood cholesterol and blood triglycerides. Blood triglycerides are fatty substances found in the blood that can build up in the arteries and increase the risk of heart disease. Other research has found that salt restriction may cause a resistance to insulin, the hormone responsible for transporting sugar from the blood to cells. Insulin resistance causes insulin to work less effectively and leads to higher blood sugar levels as well as an increased risk of diabetes. A low-salt diet can also lead to a condition called hyponatremia, or low blood sodium. With hyponatremia, your body holds on to extra water due to low levels of sodium, excess heat or overhydration, causing symptoms like headaches, fatigue, nausea and dizziness.
Salt is a key part of the diet and its components play critical roles in your body. However, for some people, too much salt may be associated with conditions like an increased risk of stomach cancer and high blood pressure. Nevertheless, salt affects people differently and may not lead to adverse health effects for everyone. If you have been advised by your doctor to reduce your salt intake, do so. For most, sodium intake around the recommended one teaspoon per day is ideal.