Published: 02/28/2015 - Updated: 03/08/2020
Author: Dra. Loredana Lunadei, PhD
Are you incapable of eating without having the salt shaker nearby? There are a lot of people whose palates have grown used to eating with a lot of salt. Salt is the master of accentuating flavors in dishes, but we also need to know how to consume it appropriately, and the effects it has on the body.
Kidneys and salt
The kidneys are capable of eliminating approximately 5 grams of salt a day. When more than this amount is consumed a day, salt accumulates in the body. High salt concentrations cause severe bodily damage.
When consuming more than 5 grams of salt a day, the body stores the remaining salt in organs and tissues, in a solution that is 20 parts water per 1 part salt. This causes fluid retention in the body, which is known as edema. All this is, is stored salt and water that neither the kidneys nor the skin were capable of eliminating.
The reason for which water is retained with salt, is that salt acidifies the blood. This is so harmful for the body that, in order to neutralize this acidifying effect, the body retains water. This causes weight gain and swelling in the legs, as well as other areas of the body.
Excessive salt causes
- Kidney problems (like kidney failure)
- Liver, vein, tissue, and heart problems (arteriosclerosis)
- Rheumatism and joint problems, like arthritis
- Stones or calculus in the gallbladder or kidneys
- Hair loss due to the fact that salt dries out the scalp
- Salt dries tissues, which causes several skin problems, dry eyes, withered skin, propensity towards wrinkles, deficient mucous functioning, etc.
- Salt irritates the intestines
- Salt dries out the throat and nose
- It could cause bags under the eyes and constipation
- Diseased veins and arteries: the elements transported by the blood via the veins and arteries frequently harden with excessive salt. This creates internal scabs that adhere to vein and artery walls. This causes several health problems because their diameters stretch and circulation becomes more and more deficient.
Eating salt in a healthy fashion
Salt is necessary for the body, but not table salt, which is more or less sodium chloride. The body uses salt to perform important metabolic processes, and to produce chlorohydric acid in the stomach. Refined salt, however, or iodized salt, is the most harmful because it is refined and doesn’t help the body, but rather distorts its functions.
Recommendations for consuming salt
- Use sea salt (thick sea salt) or grainy sea salt, which is one of the most nutritious salts for the body because it isn’t refined.
- Plant-based salt or tamari is one of the most nutritious salts around because it contains a 100% soy sauce. Remember, however, to still not use too much of it.
- Avoid using too much salt. A lot of foods contain their own salts, which is why you don’t need to use salt. Remember that the taste buds get used to salty things, so try getting used to using less and less salt each day.
- Don’t think that just by exercising a lot you are eliminating a lot of salt via sweat. If you are consuming more than the necessary amount, your kidneys will become overloaded and your skin will need to work more to eliminate the sweat. This could cause skin problems. So it’s best to avoid consuming more than 4 grams a day.
- Avoid heavily seasoned dishes because these generally contain a lot of salt.
- Drink two liters of water a day, at least, to keep the body hydrated. If you have excess salt, it will help eliminate it more quickly.
- If you have kids at home, try to get used to eating foods with very little salt. Try to give them fruits and vegetables as they are naturally. Although they might not taste that good to you, they could get used to eating fruits and vegetables without adding anything extra to them, which will give them a healthier life. They will also have a more refined palate, sensitive to natural flavors.
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