Too much salt can increase risk of these deadly diseases

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We all may be consuming more salt than we intend to on a daily basis considering it makes its way through a variety of sneaky sources from bread, canned food, packet of chips, salad dressings and many other foods that do not usually appear so unhealthy at first glance. Used to flavour and preserve food, salt is almost in every processed food and the side-effects of eating too much salt can be devastating. (Also read: Reducing sodium intake can help patients with heart failure? Here’s what study says)

Salt or sodium chloride, around 40% sodium and 60% chloride, has its own importance and it helps the body to conduct nerve impulses, relax muscles, maintain balance of water and minerals. But we only need a small amount of sodium – around 500 mg for essential functions of the body. Excess salt can put us at risk of diseases like high blood pressure, cancer, kidney complications and heart attack.

Dr Sanjay Kumar, Director, Cardiology, Fortis Escorts Hospital, Faridabad, explains the short term and long-term complications of excess salt intake.

IN SHORT TERM EXCESS SALT CAN LEAD TO:

– Swelling or fluid retention in the body

Do you often suffer from bloating? You may be eating more salt than required. “Bloating sensation may happens because kidneys retain water to maintain water-sodium ratio in the body. This leads to swelling in hands feet and face,” says Dr Kumar.

– Rise in blood pressure

Rise in blood volume due to fluid retention leads to rise in blood pressure. This is particularly more pronounced in salt sensitive individuals which is a genetically mediated condition.

– Feeling thirsty, breathing difficulty

“Dryness of mouth leads to drinking more water to maintain water sodium ratio. Other effects are restlessness, breathing difficulty, seizures, decrease urination,” says the expert.

LONG TERM HEALTH COMPLICATIONS DUE TO EATING TOO MUCH SALT

– Hypertension: There is enough evidence that decreasing salt intake to 4.4gm/ day significantly decreases both systolic and diastolic BP. This effect is more pronounced in salt-sensitive individuals.

– Stomach cancer: High salt intake leads to 2-3 times higher risk of stomach cancer in long run by causing recurrent ulcers and growth of H-Pylori Bacteria.

– Heart disease and premature death: Rise in BP leads to stiffening of arteries leading to higher risk of heart disease and premature death. More studies are needed in this regard as some isolated studies have also suggested that lower salt intake can be equally harmful to heart.



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