We know that we’re consuming too much salt already so why haven’t most of us changed our habits? The answer could be in relation to the lack of education. In this blog, we’ll look at what happens in your body when you consume excess amounts of salt.
Sodium’s role in our body
Before we start, we need to establish the fact that it’s the sodium in salt which can lead to health issues such as heart disease. So with this in mind, if you’re currently on a salty diet, then you’re likely to consume excess amounts of sodium.
When too much sodium is consumed, your kidneys go to work and try to flush out the excess sodium. However, if all the excess sodium isn’t flushed out, then the sodium starts to build in the fluid between your cells.
One thing to note is that water follows sodium in our body. So since there’s sodium in the fluid between your cells, then the volume of fluid increases along with the volume of blood. This then impacts your heart and blood vessels. It creates more work for your heart and applies greater pressure on your blood vessels. Your blood vessels may stiffen which can then lead to high blood pressure, heart attack or stroke1.
Additionally, a high sodium diet can lead to a greater amount of calcium excreted through urine. A loss of calcium can then lead to osteoporosis (weakening of bones)2.
However, it’s not all doom and gloom as we still need a bit of sodium as part of our diets. Sodium can help your kidneys work properly. They help to produce energy and provide fluid balance2.
Reducing a Salty Diet
So we know we need a bit of sodium in our lives but not too much. Now the question is – how do we reduce a salty diet? Options include checking the labels of packaged food for low sodium food options, eating more fruits/vegetables, experimenting with different herbs/spices and using low sodium salt such as Heart SALT (which contains 56% less sodium than regular salt). You can find out more about reducing a salty diet by clicking here.
- Harvard University 2006, Take it with a grain of salt, Harvard Health Publishing, <https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/take-it-with-a-grain-of-salt>
- Harvard University 2019, Potassium and sodium out of balance, Harvard Health Publishing, <https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/potassium_and_sodium_out_of_balance>