The average Indian consumes around 10g of salt on a daily basis, which this is around a shocking 119% more than the WHO recommended limit. Medical experts have repeatedly talked about how excess consumption of salt increases your risk of hypertension, heart -disease, and other grave illnesses. These warnings, however, seem to have fallen on deaf ears as the average rate of salt consumption in most people, especially adults, has only been rising at an express pace.
How does Table salt affect your body?
Sodium, one of the primary ingredients of table salt (Sodium chloride), is responsible for performing certain vital functions in the body. In trace amounts, sodium helps in regulating blood pressure levels, facilitates transmission of signals between the nerve fibers and the muscles, and also ensures healthy blood circulation.
However, when salt is consumed in excess, the ratio of sodium with respect to the other important minerals, like potassium, in the body is altered. This change in ratio restricts the body’s ability to remove water. As a consequence, the kidneys retain water in high amounts.
High water retention by the kidneys leads to various health problems like edema (swelling in the legs and the hands) and a higher blood flow volume in the body. As the blood volume increases, the veins and the arteries come under intense pressure, and this over time, leads to high blood pressure. According to studies, around 1.65 million global cardiovascular deaths are a result of high sodium intake.
Too much salt consumption can also make you thirsty, thus forcing you to drink more water. This in turn further aggravates the symptoms of edema and high water retention by the kidneys. It can also increase the number of trips you take to the loo, a consequence of drinking too much water due to the constant thirst. Urinating frequently can cause the body to lose important minerals like calcium, an important component of your bones and teeth. You may then experience symptoms of osteoporosis (reduced bone mass). A higher than normal salt intake can also injure the lining of your stomach and make you more susceptible to stomach cancer.
Steps you can take –
Now that you are aware of the risks, the next step is course correction. Read on to find out what you can do
1. Ditch the processed foods
Most processed foods and beverages are packed with high quantities of salt, so you won’t be doing your heart any favors by gorging on them. So, avoid the trip to the office vending machine for that packet of chips. Instead,, carry some boiled chickpeas and/or peanuts with some sliced cucumbers and onions for a delicious healthy snack instead.
2. Play detective
A lot of organic foods like pickles, buttermilk, and cheese contain sodium. So, ensure that you go through the labels carefully before you buy these things. Also avoid buying foods that do not have proper labels. Research indicates 55% of the salt we consume daily is ‘hidden’ in various foods at the supermarket.
3. Replace the salt shaker with the pepper shaker
Use spices like black pepper instead of salt when you are cooking. You can also opt for herbs like cilantro, and coriander to make your dishes sodium free, while at the same time keeping them delicious.
4. Choose your SeasoningDress carefully
Avoid using condiments like soy sauce, mustard and ketchup in your salads and curries as they are usually packed with sodium.
5. Get a health insurance policy
It’s never too late to get a health insurance policy for yourself. With the cost of healthcare rising at a steady pace, treatment for even common conditions like high blood pressure can turn out to be a super expensive affair. Having a good health insurance policy will ensure that your financial assets are not stressed from the money you have to spend on treatment- After all- prevention is better than cure when it comes to your physical and financial health.