Salt is a crystalline material made up of two elements – sodium and chloride. Sodium and chloride are absolutely essential for life. The daily recommended amount is no more than 6 gms a day. Usually what we call salt may be sea salt, rock salt etc. They serve important functions like helping brain and nerves, send electric impulses to keep healthy balance of water and minerals in our body. Small amount of salt is essential for our health. Adults need less than I gm per day and children even less. As a nation we are all eating approximately 8.1 gm of salt per day, far more than we need and more than the recommended maximum of 6 gm per day, putting us at risk of many a health problem. The good news is that reducing your salt intake can lower your blood pressure and the risk of other diseases.
Lifestyle disease develops silently through our unconscious habits and behavior affecting our physical health and well-being in the long run. Our habits are eating high salt in our diet. If there is a wound in any part of body and if you sprinkle a little salt over it, you will feel burning sensation immediately. Likewise, if salt in our food exceeds the maximum doses, it can damage the lining of stomach, making it more vulnerable.
Salt is used in our daily life for various purposes, the most common being in the kitchen to add taste to food. This tasty yet potentially harmful substance live to hide in food you eat every day and those all are not just too obvious as table salt. Sodium hides in your food in various forms and carries with it the risks.
Sodium (salt) essentially produces a progressive increase in thirst. For every I gm of salt, 70 ml of water should be drunk to dissolve, and we cannot utilize the water which is already present inside the body because if the quantity of water in the body reduces, the concentration of salt increases in the body. Salt contains 0.03% of calcium, 0.09% of potassium, less than 0.01% of magnesium and 39.1 % of sodium.
The reason salt is often perceived as unhealthy if taken in large amounts is that it can bind water in blood stream and raise blood pressure. Salt is a major influencing factor for obesity. The salt diet makes your kidneys release more water, increase the volume of blood your heart pumps and can lead to health problems relating to heart, kidney and also harm your nervous system. Further, it carries the risks of osteoporosis, stomach cancer and stroke. Salt mainly targets the people over 50 years. Diet rich in salt swells up the body.
Types of salt:
Sea salt, kocherssalt, Himalayan pink salt, Celtic salt, seasoned salt, sendha namak (Himalayan rock salt) , kalanamak.
The main benefit of using or choosing natural salt is that you avoid additives and anti caking agents that are often added to regular table salt. According to Ayurveda, sendha namak is best for eating. The next best is kalanamak.
Salts favorite hiding places:
Salt lurks in unsuspected places like processed foods, snacks, canned eatables soups, cheese, sauces, muffins, pickles, ketchups, papads, meat, instant bread etc.
Advantages of not taking salt:
- Low salt diet reduces obesity.
- Aims at stronger bones in post menopausal women.
- Aims good cardiovascular health.
- Less risk of stroke, hypertension and chronic kidney diseases.
- By taking salt free diet kidney excrete already accumulated salt.
- By taking only fruits and vegetables a person can reduce 5 kg of body weight.
Disadvantages of taking more salt:
Osteoporosis, obesity, heart attack, kidney stones, coronary heart disease, stomach cancer, diabetes, child hood obesity etc.
Tips to reduce salt intake:
- Avoid fast food, restaurants.
- Check labels on processed foods.
- Menus which are often chock full of sodium.
- Look to spices, herbs and citrus cilantro, ginger, lemon juice and garlic.
- If you can’t buy fresh ingredients, look for low sodium on nutrition labels (more than 500 mg).
- Eat less, consuming less food altogether increases your odds of consuming less salt.
- Hide the salt shaker.
- Give your palate some time as our palates are used for salty food – its everywhere.
- Also you should make sure you eat at least 5 portions of fruits, vegetables per day.
At the end of the day salt is salt, its main purpose is to add flavor or taste, not nutrition.