For decades, doctors have been telling you to eat less salt because it causes high blood pressure or hypertension, which increases the risk of heart disease. Current dietary guidelines in the US Recommend limiting the consumption of salt to anywhere from 1.5 to 2.4 grams of sodium per day, which varies depending on the organization you request. (For reference, a teaspoon of table salt contains about 2.3 grams of sodium.) According to some estimates, Americans receive approximately 4 grams of sodium per day, which for a long time has been thought to be too much for the Heart health.
However, a recently published study found no solid evidence that reducing salt intake reduces the risk of heart attacks, stroke or death in people with normal or high blood pressure. In fact, research has shown that too little salt in your diet can also increase the risk of heart disease!
Physiological functions of salt in the human body
Salt is a very popular substance for thousands of years in all cultures and all continents. Salt provides two key elements – sodium and chloride – both of which are essential for life. Your body can not make these on its own, so you must get them from food
Sodium is a vital nutrient and is responsible for many vital functions in the body. what:
It is an important component of your blood plasma, lymphatic fluid, extracellular fluid and amniotic fluid.
Maintains and regulates blood pressure through a fine sodium-potassium balance in the body. This function is managed by the kidneys that are able to adapt to fluctuations in sodium and potassium levels in the diet to maintain homeostasis (internal stability).
Carry nutrients in and out of cells.
Maintains acid-alkaline balance.
It helps your brain communicate with your muscles.
It increases glial cells in the brain, which are responsible for creative thinking and long-term planning. Sodium and chloride are also playing an important role in the communication between nerve cells.
It supports the functions of the adrenal glands, which produce dozens of vital hormones.
Not all salts are created equal
Many people wonder why natural salts are much more expensive than ordinary table salt. What’s really worth it? Here are the differences.
Untreated natural salt such as Celtic sea salt and Himalayan salt contains approximately 84% sodium chloride. The remaining 16 percent are natural minerals and elements such as potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, sulfur, bromine, boron, zinc, iron, manganese, copper and silicon trace that the body can use for many different functions.
The treated table salt contains 97.5 percent sodium chloride and virtually any other mineral. The rest are man-made chemicals, such as moisture absorbents and flow aids.
It is therefore clear that unprocessed natural salt has many more nutritional value than processed salt, not to mention the fact that it does not contain artificial chemicals.
Among the different types of natural salt, Himalayan salt, besides being naturally low in sodium, is also much higher potassium compared to other salts. Himalayan salt contains 0.28% potassium, compared to 0.16% in Celtic sea salt and 0.09% in the table salt treaty. Thus, Himalayan salt has a much more preferable sodium-potassium ratio than any other salt.
Search Results for sodium ingestion and health
The conventional understanding is that excess salt causes hypertension increases the risk of heart disease. However, when looking at the long list of published studies, one can not find strong evidence that reducing salt intake reduces the risk of dying from heart disease.
In 2014, the New England Journal of Medicine published a four-year observational study entitled Prospective Urban Epidemiology of Studies (PURE), which included more than 10,000 people in 17 countries. It was found that while higher levels of sodium correlated with an increased risk for high blood pressure, potassium helps offset the adverse effect of sodium.
In addition, those who have the lowest risk of heart problems that consume 3 to 6 grams of sodium per day, much higher than the current dietary guidelines of the United States of 1.5 to 2.4 grams per day.
However, when sodium levels were above 6 grams or less than 3 grams per day, the risk of heart disease increases. Other recent studies have also confirmed this observation. This means that if there is a relationship between sodium and hypertension, it is not just a linear relationship.
Long-term salt restriction can have other serious health consequences. A 2010 Harvard study showed that low sodium intake is associated with poor outcomes in type 2 diabetes with low salt diets have led to an immediate onset of insulin resistance, a precursor to type 2 diabetes. This casts doubt on the relevance of dietary guidelines that call for sodium restriction in patients with type 2 diabetes.
Salt restriction can also be particularly dangerous for older people. Studies have shown that older people who have hyponatremia (low sodium in the blood) have more falls and broken hips and a decrease in cognitive abilities. Hyponatremia is a common outcome in the elderly due to universal recommendations that recommend sodium restriction for people with acute illness.
Studies have shown that salt restriction is also problematic for athletes, especially those who engage in high-intensity or long-term exercise. Athletes should ensure they properly replace the salt they lose through sweat.
When is salt reduction justified?
Although most people have no reason to limit the levels of salt recommended by various health organizations, there are some health conditions in which lower salt intake may be warranted.
1. Sensitivity to salt
For those who have high blood pressure, there is evidence that some individuals have inherited salt sensitivity, which is believed to be caused primarily by the transport of sodium in the damaged kidneys. People with this trait have a significant response to high blood pressure to salt intake. However, increased potassium in the diet seems to mitigate this effect and may even eliminate salt sensitivity.
2. Impaired renal function
Patients with chronic renal failure have generally reduced the rate of glomerular filtration and may have more difficulty excreting high levels of sodium. Therefore, an increase in sodium intake can become toxic to the kidneys when sodium filtration is altered and can lead to dangerous levels of proteinuria (abnormal amount of protein in the urine).
3. Kidney stones
Those who are prone to kidney stones may need to reduce their salt intake. High consumption of sodium leads to a stronger sodium content and high calcium excretion in the urine. Calcium excretion can lead to the formation of kidney stones, especially if the fluid intake is insufficient.
Since increased sodium intake is associated with increased calcium excretion, those with a low bone density may benefit from lower salt intake. However, it is not assumed that high salt intake to be the cause of osteoporosis, and the possible negative effects of high salt intake can be offset by an adequate intake of calcium and potassium.
Strategies for the control of hypertension
1. Reduce excessive intake of carbohydrates, especially refined sugars and carbohydrates.
People with high blood pressure tend to have high levels of chronic blood sugar, high insulin and high levels of triglycerides, which are caused by excessive consumption of carbohydrates, especially refined grains and sugars. Trimming sugary drinks, white carbohydrates and sugary foods should be your first step in managing hypertension. However, do not go “diet” foods made with artificial sweeteners, as they also contribute to hypertension.
2. Change the sodium-potassium ratio in the diet
Instead of severely restricting the sodium level, which is essential for many vital functions in the body, instead of focusing on a high quality diet that is rich in potassium as it helps to relax the walls of blood vessels and lower Blood pressure.
Avoid processed foods, which are notoriously high in sodium (processed salt) and low in potassium.
Eat unprocessed whole foods, ideally organic and chemically free.
When using salt, use a natural salt. Himalayan salt contains less sodium and more potassium compared to other salts.
Eat more potassium-rich foods every day. Beans, squash, cooked spinach and avocado are rich in potassium. Other vegetables rich in potassium are broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus and squash. Bananas, cantaloupe, papaya and prunes are also rich in potassium, but beware of the sugar content in the fruit.
Green vegetable juice is another way to increase your potassium intake. Be careful not to use too much fruit or carrot juice in it as they contain large amounts of sugar.
3. Increase intake of other beneficial minerals, such as magnesium and calcium
Both have been shown to play a role in managing blood pressure.
Foods rich in magnesium – green vegetables, avocados, nuts and seeds, beans and lentils, and whole grains.
Foods rich in calcium – dairy products (fat preferably fed with grass), dark green leaves, canned sardines and bones of salmon and bone broth.
4. Optimize your vitamin D and K2 levels
Research shows that vitamin D relaxes arteries and improves blood pressure. Deficiency is associated with arterial stiffness and blood pressure. So, make sure you get adequate exposure to the sun safely, or take a vitamin D3 supplement. Most people need at least 4,000 IU. One day, some even up to 8,000 IU, to reach the optimal level of D3 from 50 to 70 ng / ml in blood.
Vitamin K2 is also important to prevent arterial plaque and heart disease. The best sources of vitamin K2 are fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kim chi and other fermented vegetables, yogurt, kefir and some cheeses like Brie and Gouda.
5. Eat 3-4 servings of fatty fish per week
Blue fish is rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids and these fats have been shown to reduce the risk of hypertension and heart disease in multiple studies. Wild salmon, sardines and herring are the best option as they are low in mercury.
6. Eliminate caffeine
There is ample evidence that coffee and other caffeinated beverages can aggravate your condition.
7. Increase in nitric oxide in the blood
This compound can help open clogged blood vessels and lower blood pressure. Methods to increase nitric oxide include taking a warm bath, inhaling and exhaling through a nostril, and having the chopped melon and beet juice.
8. Exercise regularly
If you are inactive, start walking slowly and gradually increase your pace. If you are diabetic or pre-diabetic, exercise high-intensity strength training interval and are most beneficial in regaining insulin sensitivity, which is essential for managing your blood pressure.
9. Learn to effectively manage your daily stress
If it is related to a problem at work, a discussion with a friend, or problems with the family, everyone feels stressed at times. Understand that most problems and solutions need time to process. Meanwhile, give yourself time to eliminate stress. Try some of these methods and see if they work for you – deep breathing, meditation, yoga, guided visualization, aromatherapy, a hot bath, listen to music, exercise, get a massage, write in your journal, take a nap , Take a walk or hug your pet.