Like sugar, salt rules our food. Our meals are loaded with salt. Tell me a single meal that does not involve it. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, everything is salty. Bread, cheese, curries, pasta, I mean what not? Even the salad dressing is salty, along with sugar sometimes.
Know Your Limits for Salt Intake
The recommended limit of salt intake is 5g per day. But we super exceed it. The popcorn you prefer during movies or the chips you eat while traveling super exceeds this limit.
Salt contains both Sodium and Chloride ion. The Common Table Salt, which is the invariable part of our pantries, when taken in a limited amount, keep us healthy. But when we exceed the recommended limit, Sodium starts to accumulate in the body.
Health Risks Involved with Extra Salt Intake
There are many risks which come when we go beyond the limit.
Cardiovascular Disease: If by chance your BP does not increase, still high sodium damages heart, and aorta (the main vessel which carries blood to all organs). And it increases the risk of CV diseases.
Kidneys: High salt reduces kidneys’ ability to remove toxins from the blood.
Oedema: Increased sodium leads to water retention in the body. This results in swelling of feet, knees, and hands.
Stomach cancer: One of the major contributors to stomach cancer is high salt consumption.
Bloating: Bloating is another problem that comes with water retention due to excessive salty diet.
Salt Addiction: Too much Salt consumption for a long duration of time makes the taste buds habitual of it. Thus creating more craving for salty food and making you addicted to it.
Osteoporosis: The “Bone-thinning” disease, is another unwanted problem that comes with high sodium intake. The more salt you eat, the more calcium you expel from the body. Calcium in the blood is in a very limited amount. Due to high salt in the blood, the calcium from bones starts to leach-out. Thus making bones porous, or weak.
Who is at more risk?
Men are at more risk to develop stomach cancer due to excessive salt intake than women.
People with weak kidneys.
Individuals with a family history of diabetes and high BP.
People above the age of 45.
African Americans, due to their genetics.
and People with the imbalanced gut microbiome.
The Missing Link
Recent evidence has proved that the link between salt and heart disease is via Gut Microbiome. High salt intake alters our gut microbiome. This alteration is associated with:
The extra salty food that we eat wipes off the most important bacteria of our microbiome, Lactobacillus. This results in a decrease in immune cells resulting in diseases like multiple sclerosis and hypertension.
One such scientific study showed that people were given 6g extra salt with normal diet for two weeks. After two weeks Lactobacillus were no longer present in their microbiome. It wiped off this species completely.
If only you were taking note on how much salt you and your family, and the children in the family are taking, you could have avoided this.
How to Reduce Salt in the body?
The answer is simple
Start by reducing salt intake.
Limit your intake to the recommended 5g per day. Swap your common salt to Himalayan pink and black salt crystals.
Befriend the enemy- Potassium
Potassium has just the opposite effect on the body. Potassium relaxes the blood vessels and helps in excreting sodium from the body. Fruits like Banana, Cantaloupe, Apricots, Prunes, Dates, Cooked Spinach, Cooked Broccoli, Sweet Potatoes, Mushrooms, Zucchini, Pumpkins, and Eggplant are full of potassium.
Another Reason to Take Probiotics
The above study gave us another reason to take probiotics that contains Lactobacillus strains. The Lactobacillus is a much-needed bacteria for our bodies. Not only the extra salty meal is harmful to Lactobacillus but also other functions of the body related to Lactobacillus. Thus taking a high-quality probiotic like Billion Cheers is required to treat your gut and health right.
The future of Salt-related problems might lie in the hands of probiotics.