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Salt, a mineral essential for maintaining fluid balance, muscle function, and nerve transmission, has been linked to health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke when consumed in excess.
To improve overall health, many people have been reducing their salt intake. However, completely eliminating salt from your diet for 30 days can have surprising side effects.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), adults should limit their sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams per day, but most Americans consume far more than that.
Registered dietician Sotiria Everett advises individuals with risk factors for high blood pressure to aim for 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day.
While reducing sodium intake can be a step towards preventing high blood pressure, it is important to recognize the effects of sodium and to consult with a healthcare professional before making any drastic changes to your diet.
3 Bad Things That Happen When You Completely Cut Salt From Your Diet
While it’s important to limit our intake of sodium, completely cutting salt from our diets can have serious consequences for our health. The body needs a certain amount of sodium to function properly, and eliminating it entirely can lead to hyponatremia, a condition that can cause muscle weakness, cramps, seizures, and even death in older adults.
Additionally, eliminating salt can lead to a decrease in iodine intake, which is important for thyroid function and can lead to a variety of health problems.
Finally, getting too little salt is associated with an increase in insulin resistance, which can lead to raised blood sugar levels and is associated with type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The best approach is to keep our salt intake at a level that maintains health but avoids the consequences of getting too much or too little.
To maintain healthy levels of sodium intake, it is important to limit consumption of processed or packaged foods, which often contain high amounts of salt as a preservative. In fact, over 70 percent of our dietary sodium comes from processed foods, according to the FDA. To reduce sodium intake, individuals should opt for home-cooked meals and choose unsalted or low-sodium options when available.
For example, raw nuts can be a healthier alternative to salted nuts, and no-added-salt canned vegetables can be rinsed with water to reduce sodium content. It is also important to monitor portions of high-sodium foods such as cheese, store-bought sauces, and processed meats. Instead of high-salt snacks, fruits can be a good source of potassium and can help counteract the effects of sodium on blood pressure. However, it is important to maintain a balanced diet that provides the necessary nutrients for proper bodily function.
By making small changes to food choices and cooking habits, individuals can maintain healthy levels of sodium intake.
This article was updated 3 months ago