More and more people are experiencing health problems because of too much intake of sodium, which is popularly known as salt. That is why studies have been conducted to identify the clear effects of salt on blood pressure.
Basically, the kidneys regulate the amount of salt in the body, and if there is too much salt it passes the excess into the urine. However, when salt intake is very high, kidneys may not keep up with the imbalance and may end up passing large amounts of sodium into the bloodstream. Because salt naturally attracts water, it draws too much water in the blood, which in turn increases the blood volume and increases blood pressure. That is why it is important to know more about salt and high blood pressure connection
How to Determine If You Are Salt Sensitive
Some individuals are more sensitive to salt compared to others. Several groups of people are sensitive to salt such as people with diabetes and the elderly. Studies also reveal that African-Americans are more sensitive to salt compared to White Americans. If you experience increased blood pressure, you can always take advantage of lessening your intake of salt.
At present, there is no simple way to determine if you are salt sensitive or not, although research are being conducted to narrow this gap. More often than not, you can determine if you are salt sensitive, after a comprehensive medical check-up and consultation with your doctor. And because different studies reveal that it is beneficial for people to mind their salt intake, doctors and health practitioners simplify things by advising people to be slow in taking too much salt.
Apart from this, high blood pressure is not the only issue. Even if blood pressure remains in the normal range, high-salt diet is often connected to heart problems, grounding on the theory that too much salt can severely damage the heart and the arteries. Meanwhile, high salt diet can also affect the calcium in the bones, which can weaken the bones and will often lead to problems such as osteoporosis.
How To Determine High Blood Pressure Due To High Salt
Numerous studies reveal high salt intake as a major factor of increasing high blood pressure. The link is clearer for the effect of too much sodium on the blood pressure compared to any other lifestyle and dietary factors including lower intake of vegetables, legumes and fruits (controlled potassium intake), being overweight, too much alcohol consumption and inadequate exercise.
Similar to salt sensitivity, there is also no simple way to determine high blood pressure because of high salt intake. At present, the only way to know if your hypertension is caused by too much sodium is through a medical examination performed by a doctor who is specializing in diagnosing cardiovascular diseases.
Effective Ways To Lower Salt Intake
Lowering your sodium intake is one action, which you can take to minimize the risk of hypertension, including its related health problems. Bear in mind that your taste buds are possibly familiar to the strong levels of salt, so cutting back on consumption may take some time in being accustomed to.
Herbs That Adds Flavor To Your Meals
Instead of using too much salt in your meals, you can add flavor by using herbs and spices such as basil, pepper, sesame seeds, garlic, onion, and oregano leaves. These ingredients will add flavor to your food without the need to add too much salt. Also, if a recipe requires salt, you can lessen the amount to at least half and taste the food before you add more.
You must also make healthy choices whenever you shop at the grocery store. Remember that processed foods usually have high salt content, because it can help in preserving food longer and enhances flavor. Make it a habit to read food labels that you buy, including the sodium content and the list of ingredients.
Bear in mind that low-calorie diet doesn’t mean that the food is healthy. Most diet foods can also be higher in salt, because usually food processors hope that the added salt will enhance the flavor as a compensation for the lack of fat. This is also true for frozen meals that are usually added with extra salt.
Too Much Salt and Kidney Damage
Salt is essential to power up muscle body functions and ensure the supply of electrolytes in the body. If the salt content is too high from taking a salty diet, the kidneys must exert extra effort in order to retain the balance of body fluids, which includes electrolytes. If it remains severely high, the kidneys may be damaged that may not reveal symptoms until they are chronically damaged. It is highly recommended to ask your doctor how much salt intake is too much based on your current health condition.
Those who consume too much sodium will have their kidneys working too much to balance the electrolytes in the body. On the other hand, hypertension may also cause too much pressure on these organs. In this chronic kidney damage, the area of the kidney that filter wastes and toxins called nephrons will be affected that will decrease the regular function of the kidney. The damaged function of the kidneys, medically known as chronic kidney disease, may develop gradually if the person continues with high salt diet.
Both chronic kidney disease and hypertension are presently not curable, so controlling your sodium intake is a significant preventative step. Kidney damage or failure need continuous hemodialysis or surgical kidney replacement to prevent terminal cases. Those with chronic kidney disease also have significant risks for strokes and heart attack.
Too much salt can increase the level of stress exerted on the blood vessels. As you consume too much sodium, the body may experience electrolyte imbalance and fluid changes. Hence, the kidneys may have the tendency to excrete less urine, and the water in the body may be passed through the bloodstream. As a result, the heart should work harder to pump more blood, increasing the pressure against blood vessels. Kidney disease is a great health concern that you must take seriously.
People who are extra sensitive to salt and have high blood pressure, must take extra caution to make certain that they keep their sodium intake below the recommended amount of 6 grams. This may be achieved by basic changes including minimal consumption of processed foods, checking product information before your purchase, and having an annual check up to keep track of salt level in the body.