Sodium plays an important role in our organism. As an electrolyte, it is responsible for regulating body functions (including heart rate, muscle function, respiration, brain activity, blood pressure, and digestion, for example), maintaining fluid balance, and facilitating nerve impulses.
Since it is so important to our organism, it’s impossible to quit salt completely. According to the American Heart Association, the recommended daily sodium intake to maintain healthy sodium levels should be less than 2300 milligrams – ideally, it should be somewhere around the 1500 milligram mark. Like everything else, having too much sodium or too little can bring us health problems. The problem is that nowadays, people are consuming too much food rich in salt, especially because most convenient snacks and pre-packed foods contain unhealthy amounts of this substance. As a result, it is estimated that Americans eat, on average more than 3400 milligrams of sodium per day, so you can see why this has become such a huge issue.
Here’s what happens to your body when you limit your sodium intake per day to normal amounts!
1. Improved Kidney Function
The kidneys are bean-shaped organs responsible for filtering the blood, removing waste, and adjusting salt, water, and mineral levels whenever needed. Therefore, excessive salt consumption puts enormous stress on the kidneys and may lead to some kinds of malfunctions. Opting for a salt-free diet(which means eating a low amount of sodium per meal) is also a good way to prevent kidney stones or drastically reduce its risk. These tiny and hard deposits of salts and minerals that form inside the kidneys can cause excruciating pain. Among its main risk factors is precisely an unhealthy diet rich in sodium, sugar, and protein. If you want to help your kidneys function better overall, eat less salt!
2. Lower Blood Pressure
Eating too much salt in your diet is considered one of the main risk factors that lead to high blood pressure. It creates an imbalance that your organism needs to regulate, thus putting significant pressure on the circulatory system and, as a consequence, increasing blood pressure. Just because you feel healthy, that doesn’t mean you don’t have to worry about your blood pressure, and you can go on with your diet rich in salt. This starts as a silent condition in most cases, so make sure you check your blood pressure regularly. Limiting your sodium intake and making other simple lifestyle adjustments (like exercising and eating healthy foods) could be enough to cause blood pressure to drop back to healthy levels and prevent a series of dangerous health complications such as heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and aneurysm, for example.
3. Prevent Liver Damage
A couple of medical studies have recently suggested that consuming excessive amounts of salt may potentially lead to liver damage. The experts believe that high amounts of sodium could be responsible for higher rates of liver cell death and lower rates of cell division, as well as the formation of weirdly shaped cells, which in turn can lead to liver damage and fibrosis. Considering that these findings are still very recent, it is necessary to wait for further research to provide more accurate insights regarding salt’s impact on the liver.
4. Feel Less Bloated
If you get too much sodium, your organism will make some adjustments to keep electrolyte levels balanced. One of those adjustments will be precisely to try to retain as much water as possible, making you experience bloating and swelling. The fact that diets high in sodium became the new standard might be why bloating is one of the most reported gastrointestinal complaints in the USA. It’s also worth noting that fluid retention might also impact your motivation and overall energy levels. So, if you’ve been experiencing this symptom lately, you should consider reducing your salt intake.
5. Help You Lose Weight
As we have just mentioned, cutting your salt intake will make your body stop retaining water to balance electrolyte levels. In the short term, this will result in a noticeable reduction in water weight. But that’s not all. More often than not, diets high in salt are based on carbohydrates and processed fried foods. In other orders, these diets are tremendously unhealthy and highly caloric. This means that changing to a low-sodium diet might be enough to lose some weight.
6. Fewer Headaches
The impact that sodium has on blood pressure might be responsible for headaches and migraines. A study published in the BMJ Open journal in 2014 found that people who eat too much sodium have a higher risk of headache, regardless of their specific diet. Why does this happen? The experts believe that blood vessels in the brain have to expand due to the increased blood pressure caused by high sodium intake, thus leading to headaches.
7. Better Palate
Getting your palate used to salty food is a huge mistake. Over time, the salt will undermine your palate, and you won’t be able to enjoy your favorite dishes without an abnormally high amount of salt. But don’t worry. Once you cut your salt intake, your palate will get used to it and eventually get back to normal.
8. Reduce The Risk Of Developing Cancer
Stomach cancer is currently one of the most common and deadly types of cancer – and eating too much salt might increase your chances of developing it. There is no sufficient evidence to prove that salt could be directly responsible for developing gastric cancers and no theory to explain the mechanism behind it. But there are a handful of studies that observed a link between high salt intake and the incidence of gastric cancers. Just eat a healthy, balanced diet and keep your sodium intake within the recommended values. A healthy lifestyle will prevent a huge amount of dangerous diseases and improve your quality of life.