Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Understanding Relation Between Disease and Salt Intake

Human body needs salt (contains approximately 40 percent of sodium) to perform a variety of essential functions. Sodium helps maintain the fluid balance and cardiovascular function in the body and plays an important role in the nervous system. It is also used in the uptake of certain nutrients from the small intestines.

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that average adults should consume less than 1500 mg of sodium a day, but most Americans eat between 4,000 and 6,000 milligrams of sodium daily, that is 2 to 3 times more than they should.

Research had already showed that excessive intake of salt can raise the risk of getting a number of medical conditions including kidney failure, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.

While it is possible to limit the amount of salt that is added to the food, it might not be easy to avoid salt that is contained in many processed foods, including luncheon meats, prepared sauces and soups, canned and dried foods, and commercially prepared baked goods. Other stuffs such as pickles, ketchup, cheese, and bacon piled onto the burger can also unnoticeably add up the salt intake. For instance, adding a serving of fries could cause a person to exceed his or her daily sodium intake in just a single meal.

A paper, which was published on March 28, 2013 in in ‘The New England Journal of Medicine’ by researchers from the Medical College of Wisconsin, cited correlations between blood pressure and salt intake in a number of different studies, after a balanced review of the relevant literature.

Their findings typically revealed the causation between lowering salt intake and decreased levels of blood pressure occur in hypertensive individuals. There is also a link between salt intake and blood pressure in individuals who do not have hypertension, though it is not as pronounced. Moreover, recent studies have demonstrated that a decreasing salt intake is also associated with lower cardiovascular disease and mortality. 

Salt-reduction program had led to a lower salt intake in countries like Finland and Great Britain. In Finland, the resulting decrease in systolic and diastolic blood pressures actually lead to a 75 - 80 percent decrease in mortality due to stroke and coronary heart disease.

Nevertheless, not all health professionals and researchers agree on the population-based recommendations to reduce the salt intake. Their reason is that salt is essential for life and it is not easy to differential between salt requirement and salt preference. There is always a risk to the health if the lower limit of salt intake has not been clearly stipulated.

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