When my uncle, who was around 60-years-old, was first diagnosed with high blood pressure or hypertension, our family doctor asked him to keep strict control over diet and weight. But what was more surprising was the suggestions that poured in after everyone got to know about his condition. The first piece of advice that came from relatives and family members was to cut down on the salt intake. And thereafter who ever visited him to check on his health, just said one thing — ‘namak kam kaho’ — which means reduce your salt intake. Given these crucial set of advice from all the near and dear ones, obviously, the intake of salt was significantly reduced not just for my uncle but for the whole family. And what’s more, even all our relatives were told to keep a close tab on salt intake and use a little amount of salt in the diet.
According to a 2015 study, with high dietary salt intake, the prevalence of hypertension in the general population has increased tremendously, which is around 30% of the world population. This is the reason why we see numerous people who are diagnosed with high blood pressure are advised to keep a control on salt intake due to the sodium content. It is seen in every household, especially people with hypertension and diabetes, which is a healthy habit. But what most people should be aware of is the fact that salt in excess is harmful not just for the heart and kidneys but for the overall health. Yes, it can have a significant impact on your digestion system as well as your bone health. Here are a few reasons why it is a good idea to cut down on salt in your diet.
8 Reasons Why Reducing Salt Intake Is Good For Your Health
Well, quitting salt might sound like an impossible task for most of us as we are used to the taste of salt in food. However, after knowing about the numerous health benefits of a low-salt diet, you will be motivated to at least give it a shot and cut down on your salt intake. A lot of dietitians and experts recommend cutting out the three white food items from your diet in order to stay healthy- Salt, sugar, and flour. And it goes without saying that salt intake is restricted for patients with high blood pressure. Here’s why cutting down on salt is the best thing you can do to your body.
1. Keeps Blood Pressure In Check
As known to us and revealed by many studies, a high sodium (present in salt) intake increases blood pressure levels and has an adverse effect on arteries, heart and blood vessels in the long run. A low salt diet not only helps to regulate the blood pressure but also keep your heart healthy. Moreover, it is also shown that people with a low salt diet live longer than people who consume more salt.
2. Prevents Heart Disease
Since low salt diet keeps blood pressure in check, the chances of heart attack, stroke and heart diseases decrease significantly. According to a study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), it was revealed that people with prehypertension who has a low sodium diet as a part of the intervention during the experiment had 25-30% lower risk of cardiovascular outcomes in the 10 to 15 years after the trial. Moreover, it also improves the recovery post a heart attack or surgery of the heart.
3. Gets Rid Of Bloating
The less salt you include in your diet, the better it is for your digestive system and overall health. This is because a high intake of salt leads to water retention in cells. This not only causes bloating but also gives us a bloated appearance especially in the facial area. If you want to lose that chubby face or want to get rid of frequent bloating, then cut down on your salt intake!
4. Cuts Down Cancer Risk
Yes, studies have shown that a high salt diet increases the risk of developing stomach cancer. The reason is mainly attributed to the damage salt can cause to the inner lining of our stomach. However, the same study revealed that a low-salt diet can not only cut down your risk of stomach cancer but also improve the overall health.
5. Improves Bone Health
We lose calcium during urination and the amount of this loss depends upon the amount of sodium in our bodies. If we eat a high salt diet, more calcium will be lost through urination and the chances of developing bone diseases like osteoporosis will go up.
6. Enhances Kidney Function
High salt intake forces our kidneys to work harder to eliminate the salt from our bodies. It also leads to more calcium loss through urination. This can lead to kidney stones and other kidney diseases.
7. Promotes Brain Health
High salt intake has been linked to impaired brain function where the arteries that carry blood to the brain gets blocked or constricted leading to a decrease in blood supply to the brain. Moreover, it can also increase oxidative stress and blood pressure in the brain which can significantly affect brain health. This can not only impair the brain function but also put you at risk of cognitive abnormalities.
8. Helps You Appreciate Flavours
Too much salt in food leads to a blunting of flavors tasted by our tongue. Substituting salt as a flavoring agent with garlic, herbs, and lemon gives food more flavor. Moreover, this can help you to cut down on the sodium intake through diet and help you lead a healthy life.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends to not have more than 5 gm of salt per day for healthy adults. This is much less for people with hypertension and chronic diseases. One teaspoon of salt equals approximately 6 gms. So make sure you keep a close tab on how much salt you include in your diet. This also includes the intake of salt from foods such as bread, sauces, chips, and cheese. Reduce the amount of salt in your diet gradually by trying out low salt recipes and cutting down processed foods from your diet. Also, check the label of processed foods to know the sodium content. Following these simple measures can help you to limit your salt intake and lead a healthy life. Stay Healthy, Stay Happy.
(The article is reviewed by Dr. Lalit Kanodia, General Physician)
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