“Cutting back on salty foods will also have other benefits in placing more emphasis on the value of fresh foods on the diet, especially fruits and vegetables. Many of the highly salted foods commonly consumed also contribute saturated fat, or else fail to deliver a satisfactory level of nutrients.”
Salt Awareness Week 26 March – 1st April 2012
Considering most people who eat a Western eating plan eat way too much salt, almost 4 times as much as we need to be healthy, and the strong evidence of salt being involved in fatal diseases involving the heart, kidney, blood vessels, and bones, it is time to stand up and be accountable for your salt intake so you don’t fall into the same high flavor trap of our society.
Salt, sodium chloride (NaCl), table salt, Himalayan salt; these are just a few terms that most of us are familiar with. Salt, is naturally found in all foods, plants and animals need both of these minerals to grow and stay healthy. Similarly, we also need to have a small amount of salt in our eating plan. When eaten, sodium chloride separates into sodium (Na) and chloride (Cl) which are essential to
- The cell working properly,
- Nerves firing which results in our body moving and thinking,
- Water flow through the body and getting to the parts that needs water – water follows salt,
- Electrolyte balance to keep the body working well.
Without sodium and chloride, the body can become weak, dysfunction, and dehydrated.
Because all natural foods contain sodium and chloride, we do not need to add salt to our foods, however, every time we eat pre-prepared food – breakfast cereal, the sandwich with ham, cheese, mayonnaise at lunch; the snacks at afternoon tea time, and then top it off by using either bottled, or packet sauce to make a speedy dinner we are exposed to much higher quantities than we really need. As a general rule, any packet, bottle, tin, or pre-cooked foods has salt added to it, unless it says so. Pre-prepared foods also tend to have a high volume of unhealthy fats, and or sugar, both of which compound the risk factors for heart disease, strokes and kidney disease.
Fortunately, our body is designed to monitor and maintain a very stable amount of Na and Cl. The organ responsible for this is the kidneys. The kidneys naturally balance the amount of sodium in your body so it can be used wherever it is needed elsewhere and when your sodium levels are low, the kidneys are able to reabsorb or hold onto the sodium and when sodium levels are high, and your kidneys excrete the excess in urine.
If for some reason your kidneys can’t eliminate enough sodium, the sodium starts to accumulate in your blood with the rule that water follows sodium, fluid retention, increased blood volume leading to higher blood pressure and your heart needs to work harder to move more blood through your blood vessels. As a result, diseases such as congestive heart failure, liver cirrhosis and chronic kidney disease can make it harder for your kidneys to keep sodium levels balanced.
Unfortunately, some peoples’ bodies are more sensitive to sodium than are others. If you’re sodium sensitive, you retain sodium more easily, leading to fluid retention and increased blood pressure. See tomorrows post for more information.