Salt: Do you eat too much?
Having salt in your food is necessary, but the amount of salt consumed has to be monitored. Salt not only adds flavour to any dish, but it is essential for nerve function, muscle function and to maintain water and mineral balance.
However, regardless of these functions, there are long- and short-term negative health effects of ingesting too much salt.
Here are 9 signs that indicate that you are consuming too much salt.
Although excessive urination can be a symptom of many problems, including urinary tract infection, type 2 diabetes or prostrate problems, the cause of all this could be related to the overconsumption of salt. Consuming too much salt can also damage the nerves that supply the bladder, which can cause a stroke.
Salt can only be excreted by the body when it is dissolved, so the more people eat, the more urine needs to be expelled to get rid of it, explains the UK Telegraph. Salty foods also make people thirstier, so the double impact of salt and more liquid increases the need to urinate, particularly at night.
Consuming too much salt and not hydrating enough can result in you developing a condition called hypernatremia. Failure to take in fluids after eating salt-rich foods causes your body’s sodium levels to rise resulting in water leaching out of your cells and into your blood. If this is left untreated, you may suffer from seizures and confusion. It could be fatal.
The first warning sign will be that you are more bloated than usual, and it won’t only be after meals or after a long day’s work. The common areas of swelling are on the fingers and ankles. This swelling is caused by a condition called oedema.
Oedema, if left untreated, can cause the swelling to not only increase, but to become painful. This results in difficulty walking, stiffness, decreased blood circulation and possible infections in the swollen areas.
This condition is also known as water retention, which also causes swelling, and the main culprit is the overconsumption of salt.
Action on Salt says when we eat too much salt, the body retains extra sodium, which increases the amount of fluid in the body, outside of the cells. This increase in fluid allows the body to continue retaining sodium and fluid while excreting higher levels of sodium in the urine.
Foods are constantly bland
When every dish you eat seems tasteless and bland, it could be a sign that you are eating too much salt. Packaged foods and junk food are packed with loads of preservatives and salts. Too much of it and your taste buds can get desensitised to the intense flavours. The good news is that it is possible to retrain your taste buds, and while doing this, introduce yourself to plenty of new flavours. Here’s one: try swapping your salt with lime over your meat dishes. The juice from lemons, limes and even oranges and grapefruit can all be used to flavour your food without salt.
Experiencing mild headaches are normal. The most common reason for dull headaches is low hydration levels, and sometimes headaches can be stress-related. Sometimes, however, the real culprit could be salt, which could in fact be the cause of the dehydration, and to get rid of these dull headaches, you should simply drink water.
If the headache continues for longer than a week, consult your doctor immediately.
Studies done by Endocrine Abstracts have confirmed that excessive salt intake not only results in you falling asleep later and prevents you from sleeping right through the night, it also causes an increase in nightmares.
A study in the journal Trials explained that excess fluid settles in the upper body and worsens with people who suffer from sleep apnoea. A good idea would be to keep a glass of water at your bedside, which will stabilise your sodium levels.
Dry lips and skin
When you are dehydrated, the cells in your body also do not get enough moisture. These cells include your lips and skin. And if you become seriously dehydrated, your lips will become chapped. The good news is that all you have to do is increase your water consumption and perhaps invest in a good, medicated lip balm to heal the affected spots.
When our hair follicles become clogged with oil and dirt, acne breakouts occur. This is often unpredictable, but a study by Cosmetic Dermatology has found that people with a high sodium intake have more bouts of acne than those who do not consume too much salt.
Poor gut health
The growth of Helicobacter pylori is directly linked to eating too much salt. This bacterium damages the stomach lining and causes infections and when it goes untreated, it can cause more serious conditions such as ulcers and even stomach cancer. An alternative to regular salt is pink Himalayan salt, which is believed to be more beneficial, but there have been no studies to confirm this. However, pink Himalayan salt has more minerals and it is harvested in a more natural process than regular salt.
Changing your diet, increasing your water consumption and changing to Himalayan salt, could possibly benefit you in the long run. Before making any drastic changes, it is recommended that you visit your doctor for medical advice on any condition you experience over a long period.
Remember to consult your healthcare practitioner before adding or removing anything from your diet. For affordable health cover – check out our packages!