Health Risk Associated with High Sodium Intake

Ross Quade | Health | 15 Jun, 2015 | No Comments


Consuming sodium chloride, or salt, is the best way of getting the sodium your body needs. Sodium is key to living a healthy life. It helps support your body’s proper fluid balance, supports muscle contraction, allows nerve cell transmission impulses and performs other extremely critical functions. However, consuming too much salt can have an adverse impact on your body, and can lead to numerous potentially serious and chronic diseases.

High Blood Pressure

Too much sodium will cause the volume of your blood to increase, inputs pressure on your artery walls, which then spike your blood pressure. After some time, your increased blood pressure will severely affect vessel walls by stiffening them and making them inelastic. When your blood volume is too high and your arteries lose their elasticity, the heart has to work a lot harder in order to circulate your blood so it can reach your vital organs. Hypertension, or elevated blood pressure usually doesn’t have any symptoms so you may have a condition for many years without even realizing it. Hypertension will damage your heart overtime and eventually cause stroke and heart failure. According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute one in three adults living in the United States is at risk for cardiovascular issues due to high blood pressure.

Heart Failure and Ventricular Hypertrophy

Another reason as to why high sodium intake can cause your heart harm is that it will lead to abnormal heart development. Having excessively high blood pressure will overwork your heart, which causes it to become weak and enlarged. Studies have found that having a high sodium diet is directly related to ventricular hypertrophy. This is a huge factor for heart failure and other such cardiovascular diseases on top of high blood pressure.

Poor Bone Development and Osteoporosis

Sodium stops your body’s ability to absorb and use calcium. Studies have revealed that a high sodium intake causes bone density loss. This raises your chance of developing such syndromes as osteoporosis and brittle bones. Those that don’t get enough calcium in the first place are the most susceptible to this.

Breathing Troubles

Consuming too much sodium can cause a buildup of fluid inside of your lungs. This will lead to labored breathing and shortness of breath. The incapacity to breathe is terrifying to many, and tends to be a wake up call that changes are needed to be made to their diet. In the worst-case scenario, respiratory failure and death can occur. To avoid even the slightest chance of this, do not forget to reduce your salt intake.

Renal Failure and Kidney Stones

Excess sodium and calcium that are not utilized by your body will become concentrated in your urine. This will put a strain on your kidneys and weaken it to the point where it cannot work properly. Studies have found that those who regularly eat excessively salty foods are much more likely to develop kidney stones, and also have poor kidney function in general. Extreme blood volume and pressure will further increase the damage of your kidneys, and drastically increase your chances of developing renal failure and kidney diseases.

Edema and Dehydration

Excessive sodium intake can cause fluids to leak out of your blood and cell vessels and get trapped inside of your tissue. This will cause you to feel intensely thirsty even when you drink large amounts of water. However, you will remain dehydrated. You may also exhibit excessive swelling in your ankles, legs and feet and other body parts. Reducing your sodium intake will prevent enema, dehydration and the severe discomfort that it causes.

Gastric Ulcers and Cancers

Sodium is the regulator of the acid base balance of body fluid and blood. However, too much sodium will increase your likelihood of developing esophageal acid reflux and heartburn syndromes. Studies have concluded that eating a high sodium diet over a long period of time will increase your risk of not only gastric ulcers and stomach cancer, but also duodenal ulcers. The chances of stomach cancer is twice as likely when consuming too much salt. Gastric ulcers as well as duodenal ulcers can be very uncomfortable with painful symptoms such as a burning pain in the stomach, persistent heartburn, bloating, and nausea with vomiting, severe stomach pain and weight loss.

Hormonal Imbalance

The amount of salt you consume will impact both your hormones and electrolyte balance. It may severely influence nerve impulse conduction and can cause such symptoms as muscle cramps, shakiness and dizziness, as well as cause feelings of nausea and disorientation. Studies have found that high sodium intake can cause you to have higher stress levels and overeat. It has also been shown to make you more predisposed to anxiety, obesity and depression. If you’ve been feeling off for a while try lowering your sodium intake, as it may have a dramatic impact on your mood.

Expert Recommendations

For the majority of adults, it is recommended that your daily sodium intake be capped at 1 teaspoon, which is 2300mg of sodium. However, if you are at risk for high blood pressure you should only eat 1500mg. The American Heart Association has stated that 97% of adults in the United States consume more than double this amount, which raises the risk of developing chronic diseases. In order to lower the amount of sodium you consume, try replacing table salt with salt substitutes and salt-free spices. Avoid all prepared and processed foods, as well as restaurants that are well known for using a lot of salt. Try using fresh food as much as possible. Limit your daily intake of condiments that are full of sodium, like baking soda, sodium phosphate, monosodium glutamate, MSG and soy sauce. Look for food products that are labeled as unsalted, sodium-light or low-sodium.


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