Health Risks of High Sodium Intake
Sodium is an essential mineral that human body requires to operate properly. That is why healthy eating implies sodium consumption. Sodium is contained in table salt and other products. It performs a number of important functions that are vital for our existence. They are:
- Human body uses sodium in sustaining the correct balance of liquids. This balance keeps our bodies functioning properly.
- It helps nervous system execute some functions like signals between our brain and other parts of the body.
- It plays an important role in maintaining muscle flexibility.
In normal conditions, kidneys stabilize sodium amounts contained in the body to optimize its healthy functioning. If there’s a shortage of sodium, kidneys start accumulating sodium until the needed level is reached. In case of a high sodium intake, excess amounts are excreted from the body with urine.
Certain factors may adversely affect your kidneys. High sodium intake, cirrhosis, and congestive heart failure are sources of potential kidney problems. Kidneys may become unable to excrete necessary amounts of sodium. It will start accumulating in the body to cause a potential dangers.
To make sure your daily sodium intake is not high, follow one of the many recommendations on the daily sodium consumption. The best-known one is The Dietary Guidelines for Americans. According to this source, your daily sodium intake should be between 2,300 to 1,500 mg depending on your age.
High Sodium Intake and its Effects on Human Heart
Many people do not feel like switching to healthy eating until it is already too late. If you are on a high-sodium diet, your health might be at risk.
Consider this: common table salt is rich in sodium, in large quantities it is harmful for your heart. Continuous high sodium intake results in sodium being sucked in the blood. Sodium attracts and holds large portions of water, which causes increases in blood volume. The intensity of your heart rises in order to process larger blood volumes. With increased heart intensity, blood pressure in arteries rises as well. Therefore, a long-term high sodium intake can develop the following health conditions:
- Hypertension or high blood pressure
- Various heart diseases
- Kidney failure
Sodium and Obesity
Among other sodium side effects is overweight. The source of this problem is the same: high sodium intake leads to high levels of this mineral in the body. A high level of sodium holds water and induces human body to gain weight. That is why many people found it extremely hard to lose their weight even after their daily calorie intake diminished significantly. The problem was that they refused to switch to healthy eating and their table salt and sodium consumption remained unchanged. As a result, sodium intake levels stayed high. Often people say they cannot live without a burger or a pizza. High salt levels in their bodies held the water to restrict fatty cells from breaking and releasing energy. That is why people on such diet often complain they constantly feel hunger, but do not lose any weight at all.
Healthy Eating to Balanced Sodium Level
An average person usually consumes far more sodium than recommended. It is not enough to keep an eye on how much of salt you put in your next soup or pasta. The largest source of high sodium intake is processed food. Common processed foods are:
- Bread (surprisingly, it is very rich in salt);
- Restaurant food, e.g. pasta or roasted meat;
- Burgers, pizza and any other kind of fast food.
Try to avoid processed foods to develop healthy eating habits. If you are unable to do that at once, try to decrease your processed food consumption slightly every day. Continue until processed foods are completely substituted by healthier choice.