Salt is largely consumed and used in the preparation of several of our meals today. Almost every meal has this compound as its main ingredient.
Salt, basically sodium-chloride, is effective in improving the flavor of foods and preserving them. It also helps the body to strike a healthy balance between mineral and water.
We should however note that apart from its primary functions and benefits, consuming too much of it can have bad effects on our health in both the short and long run.
Consumption of large amounts of salt can have a host of consequences.
In the short-term it causes;
- Increased water retention: the kidney actively tries to balance mineral-water ratio, so extra water is retained to compensate for the extra salt consumed. This relatively causes swelling of hands and feet, increasing one’s weight abnormally.
- Increased blood pressure: although this doesn’t occur in every individual due to varying factors, excessive salt consumption can result in a larger volume of blood flowing through the arteries and blood vessels, causing a temporary raise in blood pressure.
- Increased thirst: salty meals cause dryness in the mouth and makes one have intense thirst. The body signals you to drink more water to correct the excessive sodium situation. Failure to take water after eating highly salty meal can lead to hypernatremia (a condition where water leaves the cells and enters into the blood in an attempt to dilute high sodium content. If unattended to, it results to seizures, coma, confusion and eventually death.
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In the long-run it causes;
- Increased stomach cancer risk: however not fully comprehended, medical experts believe that high salt diet can increase the risk of stomach cancer by inciting ulcers and causing inflammations of stomach lining.
- Increased risk of premature deaths and heart diseases: although more research needs to be conducted to prove this fact, studies have shown that consuming excessive salt causes a rise in blood pressure which in turn causes a stiffening of blood vessels and arteries which result in a higher risk of having heart diseases and premature death.
We should generally try as much as possible to reduce our salt intake. If by chance we consume too much of it, we should take sufficient amounts of water to dilute it and also eat potassium rich meals.