Too much of salt can be fatal

Risk factor

Imagine life without that vital pinch of salt? Bland, insipid, flavourless and unseasoned! Salt adds spice to life and it is one ingredient without which food, however appetising, is incomplete.

 But then too much of anything, even salt, is bad, nay even fatal as experts and recent reports warn. The various health hazards associated with high intake of salt ranges from increased blood pressure (BP), the major factor which causes strokes, heart failure and heart attacks. There are also chances that high salt intake can cause kidney stones, kidney disease and water retention. 

According to a recent report, almost 1.7 million people across the world die due to heart problems brought on by excess intake of salt. The average consumption of salt across the globe is 3.95 gm per day, nearly double the 2 gm recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO). A separate Indian study released a few days ago – INDIAB study by the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) found that the salt intake in urban India was 7.6gm per day, much higher than the global recommendation.

“It is well known that salt or sodium is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Considering that one in every four Indian adult suffers from high blood pressure, one can imagine the extent of heart problems caused by salt among Indians,” said Sunita Roy Chowdhury, chief dietician at BLK Super Speciality Hospital. 

One can actually compare the excess intake of salt to tobacco in terms of human disease and death. “We crave salt. We not only reach for packed namkeen stuff and dishes high on salt, we also take hidden salt in pickles, papads, etc. Indians also have a wrong tendency of topping food with salt, which is very, very harmful.
Also, sprinkling salt on fresh fruit and veggies takes away all the minerals. In packaged food, salt is found in preservatives, in bakery items salt is found in baking soda. These are all invisible salt portions which we consume unknowingly,” added Chowdhury.

Iodine found in salt is also directly related to the thyroid gland. Decrease and excess intake of iodine can lead to hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism respectively, which has become a very common disease nowadays. The 2 gm of salt that is globally recommended fulfills the need of iodine, say doctors and nutritionists.

Ritika Samaddar, chief dietician at Max Healthcare, said, “Excess intake of salt can lead to strokes, kidney and liver issues. One should go for healthy options in terms of food and avoid packaged food. There is low sodium salt available in the market, which is high in potassium and is good for heart patients. But people suffering from kidney problems should avoid it.” A heart patient Sudhir Sharma, said, “Although I am a big foodie, but due to my heart problems I am left with no option but to have only homemade-less-salty and oily food, because living healthy is more important than to spending the rest of my life on a bed or making frequent visits to a doctor. But, yes, sometimes I do cheat!”

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