Salt is a mineral that we consume every day, whether we mean to or not! Salt occurs naturally in most foods, even bell peppers, kale, and chicken. Salt is crucial for our everyday health and it does a lot for our body. It maintains fluid levels in our body, is necessary to regulate our blood pressure, prevents cramping, supports a healthy nervous system, and lots more! While salt is essential for our body, too much salt can also have its consequences.
What does salt do for our body
Salt is used to flavor food and it is also used as a binder and stabilizer. As previously mentioned, it occurs naturally in foods. Bacteria can’t live in the presence of high amounts of salt and therefore, salt protects us from unwanted bacteria.
Our body requires a small amount of salt to contract muscles, maintain an appropriate balance between water in minerals, and conduct nerve impulses. In order to carry out these functions, it’s estimated that about 500 mg of sodium is needed each day.
Negative consequences of too much salt
Too much salt in our diet can lead to negative health effects. The more salt we eat, the higher our blood pressure is and gets. Research shows that those with a higher estimated salt intake have higher overall blood pressure. An increase in blood pressure can increase risk of heart disease and stroke. Too much salt can also have negative implications on our bone health. Salt and calcium are strongly related; salt controls the amount of calcium in urine and how much is lost from bones. Therefore, too much salt can lead to bone weakening and as a result, osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a bone disease that occurs when the body loses too much bone. This increases our risk of fractures as we age.
These issues are worrisome as most Americans consume too much salt. Americans, on average, consume more than 3,400 mg per day. This is particularly high compared to the amount that we are recommended to: less than 2,300 mg.
Signs you’re eating too much salt
Bloating is one consequence of too much salt. Bloating occurs when our stomach feels swollen or tight. When eat salt, our body retains water. Extra water builds up in certain areas, like our abdominal area.
High blood pressure
As discussed above, salt and blood pressure have a direct correlation. Too much salt results in high blood pressure. This is due to the fact that our kidneys have difficulty getting rid of the extra salt and in turn, the pressure in our blood goes up.
Swelling in specific areas of your body
Swelling, similar to bloating, occurs when we consume too much sodium. Certain body parts like our hands, feet, or face may look puffier than usual. This is due to the fact that water attracts sodium.
When we eat too much salt, we usually become dehydrated. Thirst is a sign of dehydration. As our salt intake goes up, our body attracts more water from our cells. This leaves us with a feeling of thirst.
With the retention of water comes possible weight gain! This can also be due to too much salt.
One interesting sign of too much salt may be surprising – sleep disturbances. This can be noted as restless sleep, difficulty falling asleep, waking up in the middle of the night, or not feeling rested when you wake up.
Salt in food
While salt does occur naturally in some foods, we have control of the food that we are putting into our bodies – including high salt foods! It’s important to be aware of high salt foods to make sure that we are limiting these or only consuming in moderation. Some commonly consumed high salt foods are condiments, pizza, boxed macaroni and cheese, frozen meals, fast food, or tomato sauce. You’ll notice a trend of these; most high salt foods are processed or packaged goods.
That’s why we recommend reflecting on your healthy eating habits and focusing on real, whole foods. Pure Plates creates healthy prepared meals and delivers them straight to your door. By utilizing Pure Plates, you’re less likely to go for convenience food items or end up in the drive through line. Pure Plates also uses Himalayan Crystal Salt and Sea Salt, going the extra mile to use the cleanest possible ingredients for our consumers. Our menu is extremely heart friendly as well, making it a good option for all consumers!
If you don’t know if you’re eating too much salt or not, reflect on the side effects as mentioned above. Think about the foods that you’re currently eating – are you eating mostly processed foods? Are you eating out often? Do you consistently go for connivence items? If yes, think about your food choices and overall health goals and where you want to be.