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July 24, 2017


By Louise Carr, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist


Salt has a bad reputation. Too many of us eat too much of it,
according to the experts, and it is harming our health
dramatically. Salt consumption is on the rise and is blamed
for a variety of health conditions from high blood pressure
to
osteoporosis.

Salt is made up of sodium, a natural element, and chloride.
Sodium is present in the salt shaker itself but also in many
different foods like bread, milk, and even prescription drugs.
Most experts use the term sodium when talking about salt,
since this includes the sodium found not only in the shaker
but in all the other places, too.

But why exactly is salt or sodium so bad for your health?

Here are just 10 of the diseases that are triggered when
your salt consumption is too high – they are all serious. Your
salt consumption deserves your attention: here’s why.

What Does Sodium Do To The Body?

The kidneys normally get rid of sodium that is not need by
the body. But as your body accumulates sodium as the result
of high salt consumption, it also holds onto water in your
body in order to dilute it so it can process it in urine. So, you
are more likely to suffer from water retention when you eat
too much salt.

In addition, more fluid means a greater volume of blood in
your bloodstream. This means your heart has to work harder
to get the blood around the body, and there is more
pressure on your blood vessels. This extra work and
pressure can stiffen blood vessels and lead to heart attack,
high blood pressure, and stroke.

In addition, experts suggest that too much salt can also put
pressure on the kidneys and the bones. It could even affect
the brain.

Americans have diets that are too high in sodium, and too
low in potassium, according to the US Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2011, and this increases
the risk of death from all causes by nearly 50 percent. But
potassium plays an important role in the sodium balance –
higher potassium was shown in the study to be linked to a
lower risk of death.

How Much Salt is Too Much Salt?

According to the Division for Heart Disease and Stroke
Prevention at the CDC in 2011, the average adult American
consumes around 3,300 mg of sodium a day. This is over
twice the recommended limit for Americans. The 2010
Dietary Guidelines for Americans say that adults should not
have more than 2,300mg of sodium per day. Adults over the
age of 50 and those with high blood pressure, diabetes or
kidney disease should consume no more than 1,500mg a
day.

However, other studies say that these limits are too low. A
2014 study from the University of Copenhagen Hospital in
Denmark looked at 25 different studies and said that these
low levels could be harmful, and that low levels of salt were
also associated with disease. The researchers said that when
salt consumption was outside of the 2,645-4,945 mg per day
range, there was a rise in the risk of mortality.
However, no experts are saying that too much salt is good
for your health.

In fact, too much salt really does increase your risk of death
from a variety of causes. We looked at recent scientific
literature to see how too much salt affects your body.





























1.
Too Much Salt is Linked to High Blood Pressure

The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) trials
started in 1994 and have been a major factor in stating that
diet and blood pressure are linked.

In the first DASH study, 459 people consumed either a
standard American diet with plenty of red meat and sugar, a
similar diet with more fruit and vegetables, and a DASH diet
that focused on fruit, vegetables, low fat diary, and less red
meat and saturated fats. After eight weeks, people on both
of the second two diets reduced their blood pressure, with
the biggest blood pressure reductions coming from the DASH
diet.

The second DASH study discovered that lowering sodium in
both the DASH and the American diet resulted in an even
bigger reduction in blood pressure. Therefore, the CDC
recommends its limits on salt consumption, primarily because
this will help people keep blood pressure under control.

2.
Too Much Salt Increases the Risk of Heart Attack and
Stroke


A 2011 study from the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention states that people who eat a high sodium, low
potassium diet have a higher risk of dying from a heart
attack. In the study, people with the highest salt intakes had
a 20 percent higher risk of dying than people with the lowest
salt intakes. Making changes to the diet to eat more fruit and
vegetables and less processed foods and meats means
lowering this risk of heart attack and cardiovascular disease
in general.

3.
Stomach Cancer Risk Increases When You Eat Too Much
Salt


Research shows that a higher salt intake is linked to an
increased risk of stomach cancer. The World Cancer
Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer
Research in 2007 concluded that salt, sodium, and salty
foods are “probable cause of stomach cancer.”

4.
Osteoporosis Linked to Too Much Salt

The problem with too much salt is also that your body loses
more calcium in the urine as the kidneys strive to get rid of
the sodium.

As a result, calcium is increasingly leached from the bones
which can increase your risk of the bone-thinning disease
osteoporosis. A 1995 study from the University of Western
Australia looked at 124 post-menopausal women and found
that loss of density in the hip bone over two years was just
as strongly linked to loss of calcium in the urine as it was to
a low intake of calcium in the diet.

Other studies demonstrate that reducing your salt intake
creates a more positive balance of calcium in the body.

5.
Eating Too Much Salt May Cause Autoimmune Disease

Eating processed foods high in sodium may increase your
risk of autoimmune diseases like type 1 diabetes, multiple
sclerosis, and celiac disease, according to a 2016 study from
the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel
and the Aesku-Kipp Institute in Germany. The researchers
found a total of seven food additives in processed foods,
including sodium, that weakened the immune response in the
intestine, which could lead to autoimmune diseases.

6.
Rheumatoid Arthritis is Linked to Too Much Salt in the Diet

If you smoke and you eat a lot of salt you have double the
risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, according to a 2014
study from Umeå University in Sweden.

And eating red meat, some fish, and protein is also linked to
a higher risk of the disease due to their high salt content.
The research centered on the activity of an autoimmune cell
called Th17 that affected the development of rheumatoid
arthritis as well as multiple sclerosis and psoriasis.

Salt stimulated production of these Th17 cells, particularly in
people who smoked. The study looked at 386 people and
found that in people who currently smoked the risk for
rheumatoid arthritis more than doubled.

7.
Cognitive Decline May Be Heightened Through Too Much
Salt


Elderly people who are inactive and also have a high salt
consumption are at higher risk of cognitive decline,
according to a 2011 study from the Baycrest Centre for
Geriatric Care, McGill University, and the Institut Universitaire
de Geriatrie de Montreal. 

High salt combined with lack of activity undermined cognitive
health, researchers said. The study looked at 1,262 people
between 67 and 84 years old who filled out a lifestyle and
diet questionnaire. High sodium intake was classed as over
3,090 mg/day but some people were consuming more than
8,000mg a day.

8.
Lots of Salt Affects Heart and Kidney Health in Kidney
Patients


A 2016 study from Vrije University Medical Centre,
Amsterdam and other Dutch hospitals says that reducing
sodium intake could provide heart and kidney benefits for
people with chronic kidney disease. This is because a low salt
diet helps prevent a buildup of albumin, a protein, which can
help to improve the function of the kidneys and also the
heart.

9.
Aging Can Worsen the Effects of Too Much Salt in the Diet

As you age the body finds it more difficult to control water
and sodium levels. This means that an excessively high salt
intake when you are older has an even greater impact on
health and chance of disease. A 2016 study from
Georgetown University found that age significantly affected
the ability of rats to get rid of too much sodium in the body.

10.
Increase Liver Transplant Survival Rates With Low Salt
Diet


Decreased sodium levels in the blood are linked to an
increase in survival rate for patients undergoing liver
transplant, according to a 2015 study from the University of
Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor. The study looked at
data from the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients and
found that survival was enhanced when there were
decreased sodium levels in the body.










































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