Salt is often looked upon as an ingredient that can only negatively affect your health. The negative perceptions of salt usually lead people to reduce this ingredient in their diet to avoid its side effects. However, most people don’t know that salt plays an essential role in the functioning of the human body. It is crucial to understand precisely what salt is and the role it plays in our daily lives.
Salt is made up of sodium and chloride. Sodium is the component that we need to pay attention to as it can negatively impact our health if consumption levels are not managed carefully. The key to consuming salt to benefit our health is to regulate how much of it you consume. Doctors recommend no more than 6 grams of dietary salt which is about a single teaspoon per day. Too much or too little of salt is the main cause of harm. It is recommended to seek the advice of a doctor should you have any issues regarding the consumption of salt or your diet. In saying that, let’s go through the list of pros and cons of salt for our health so that we can develop a better understanding.
Improves Vascular Health
Salt can play a significant role in vascular health. However, this is when it comes to sea salt. Table salt is another matter. Sea salt carries lots of minerals that provide protective effects against heart disease. Studies have shown that dietary salt can determine the blood pressure of the body. However, keep in mind not all salts are the same. Regarding positive health benefits, certain salts work better than others. In this case, sea salt will benefit your vascular health whereas table salt will not.
Helps You Stay Hydrated
Salt is essential for sustaining the hydration levels of the body. To ensure your organs are functioning smoothly, It’s important to maintain the electrolyte balance. Electrolytes contain magnesium, potassium, calcium, and sodium — all essential properties found in salt. Most electrolyte based sports drinks have a high sodium profile. Though sodium makes our bodies retain water, it helps us stay hydrated when we need it, especially during athletics or physical activities.
Improves Sleep Quality
By consuming a healthy amount of salt in your day, particularly towards bedtime, this can prevent hunger and thirst through the night and promote a better quality of sleep. A sufficient amount of dietary salt in your diet can assist you in maintaining stress levels and increase your metabolic rate (metabolism), thus improving sleep quality because salt contains electrolytes, this can help in balancing hormone levels.
A healthy functioning body needs an adequate amount of insulin. Salt is necessary to strengthen the body’s sensitivity to insulin. Without salt, the body’s ability to metabolise glucose will significantly be reduced. This will result in reduced levels of energy to the liver and nervous system, therefore posing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Relieves Muscle Cramps
Hydration during physical activity and sports performance are essential, so you don’t become fatigued. Once you become fatigued during physical activities, your body may start cramping and become prone to injury. Having something to drink that has an excellent sodium profile can help you stay replenished as well replacing the electrolytes lost in sweat. Keeping your body hydrated with electrolytes will prevent your muscles and joints from cramping or seizing.
Salt can cause your kidneys to release more calcium into your urine. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), calcium bonds with phosphorus to form stones in kidneys. Kidney stones are hard deposits of minerals and acid salts that stick together in concentrated urine. The most common symptoms of kidney stones are severe pain, usually in the abdominal area which can cause nausea.
Heart Problems & Hypertension
If excess salt doesn’t get removed from the body, your blood volume increases and makes the heart pump blood harder, forcing extra pressure on the arteries and can result in hypertension. This increases your chances of contracting heart diseases and suffer stroke attacks.
Mental & Physical Health Complications
Too much of salt can also result in health issues such as depression as well as irritability, nausea, muscle cramps, fatigue and general weakness.
Consuming too much salt will lead to dehydration. To prevent these symptoms, a good rule to go by is drinking water. The more salt you consume, the more water you’ll have to make up for it. However, don’t increase water intake so you can absorb more salt. Salt makes your body retain water and can result in bloating.
One of the primary functions of kidneys is to eliminate excess salt from the body. Excessive amounts of sodium in your bloodstream will put pressure on this process and can result in high blood pressure and kidney failure.
Is Salt Good Or Bad For You?
Salt is a common ingredient you can find in many foods, especially savoury options. Though salt does have its pros and cons, whether it can improve or harm your health all depends on the amount you consume. Like many other foods and ingredients, too much or too little can never be good for you. The amount of salt intake you should be having also depends on your age, lifestyle and medical history. As always, it is recommended to seek the advice of a medical practitioner on how you can incorporate salt in your diet.
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