Salt is essential for the human body to function properly. Once ingested and dispersed into the blood stream and other fluids of the body, salt takes on several responsibilities. It regulates the electrolytes that allow the brain to carry out electrical signals through to the nerves and muscles, and also controls fluid levels, such as the total blood volume, which subsequently affects blood pressure. Salt also stimulates the adrenal glands, reduces sunstroke, and helps to keep other important minerals in the bloodstream.
The human body regulates how much sodium it contains. If levels are too high, we get thirsty and drink, and the kidneys speed up the process of getting rid of it.
What are the signs I’m consuming too much?
- Feeling thirsty constantly
Studies show that foods with high sodium content can affect the body’s fluid balance. When you consume too much salt, you’re likely to feel thirsty most of the time. Drinking enough water is the best method to correct this. Your body continues to indicate that it requires more water in order to restore salt balance. It is also suggested that you avoid processed foods and instead opt for vegetables and fresh fruits.
Consuming too much salt can make you feel bloated because sodium attracts water. When you consume too much salt, you’re likely to experience fluid retention and swelling in strange places, e.g., fingers or toes.
- Frequent urination
One of the most obvious signs of excessive salt consumption is frequent urination. Sometimes, drinking too much salt might not be the cause of your frequent urination. Eating too much salt can also be the cause. In order to stop this, it’s better to cut your salt intake of salt and also drink plenty of fluids in order to get rid of the excess salt.
- High blood pressure
Excessive salt consumption can raise your blood pressure. High blood pressure is caused by the increased amount of blood pushing against the blood vessel walls. Sodium is predominantly found in human blood, where it attracts water. As a result, if you consume too much sodium, your bloodstream will absorb more water.
Apart from these, there are more serious side effects of long-term consumption of too much salt.
The increased level of sodium in the bloodstream reduces the kidneys’ ability to remove water, therefore increasing the overall blood volume and placing stress on the body’s blood vessels. High blood pressure can eventually lead to strokes and congestive heart failure. As the kidneys constantly work overtime to flush out excess salt, they can develop kidney disease.
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Consuming too much salt over long periods of time can also lead to fluid collecting in the body’s tissues and cavities. Additionally, a high sodium diet may cause the body to excrete calcium in small amounts, which can eventually lead to osteoporosis.
Tips to reduce salt intake.
- checking labels on premade and packaged foods and choosing products with lower sodium values.
- choosing poultry products that manufacturers have not injected with a sodium solution.
- looking for reduced- or low-sodium condiments.
- picking canned vegetables with no added salt, or frozen vegetables without salty sauces.
- using onion, garlic, herbs, spices, vinegar, or citrus juices in place of salt when cooking.
- draining and rinsing canned beans and vegetables.
- combining low-sodium foods with their regular sodium versions.
- cooking pasta, rice, and oatmeal without salt.
- grilling, braising, roasting, searing, and sautéing foods instead of adding salt to bring out natural flavors.
- tasting food before adding salt.
- trying steamed, baked, roasted, poached, or grilled meals when at a restaurant.
- trying and limiting portion sizes.
- limiting salty snacks.
- using salt substitutes, unless a medical condition prevents their use.