Low Sodium and Salt-Free Diets: A Guide To Such Diets Keeping In Mind The Pros And Cons

Low Sodium and Salt-Free Diets: A Guide To Such Diets Keeping In Mind The Pros And Cons

Rural families in India consume increased amounts of salt in their diets. The farmers work all day in scorching sunlight and need that much amount of salt to retain the necessary amount of salt in their body.

But what about city dwellers who work in air conditioned work places and do not physically exert the body at any level? Do they need as much salt in their diets?

Salt is more of a preservative used in foods like pickles, soft drinks, jams and jellies, just so that they last long. That is, in addition to providing taste, salt also acts as a preservative. That salt is a combination of sodium and chlorine is common knowledge. But what does salt do inside the body is what not many people know. Salt is an essential mineral to the body. When used in proper quantities, it helps in regulating blood pressure, transmitting nerve impulses and regulating the acid-base balance in the bodily fluids. Sodium is also necessary to make hydrochloric acid inside the stomach, which fights against any infections present in foods. As valuable as it is, the small intestines absorb salt and transfer it to other systems of the body, like the muscular, circulatory, skeletal and digestive systems. And sodium that is a part of the compound called salt is an electrolyte that dissolves in water and helps in osmosis.

But what happens when there is too much salt in the diet? Is there something called too much salt at all?

Essentials of Salt

The basic salt requirement of the body is about 2400mg per day for an adult (Northwestern University). But it does vary according to age. There are various sources of salt in the daily diet – like soy sauce, pickles, cheese, soups, etc. Some have additional amounts of salt in them; for example, junk foods like chips, cold drinks, wedges, etc. But people generally consume more salt than required. In a survey, it was revealed that a typical American diet contained as much as 4000mg of salt per day.

Excess Salt

Excess salt leads to many disorders like Hypertension. In fact, a study conducted to reduce hypertension revealed that a low fat, low sodium diet always helped in combating the disorder in a much easier fashion. It also interferes with normal elimination of wastes like uric acid from the body and contributes to diseases like gout. Excess salt may also contribute to excess water retention or edema, as the kidneys start retaining salt and stop converting excess salt to waste. This also happens in people with very less or no physical exercise.

The only solution to reduce these effects is regular physical exercise, a good, if not, perfect diet, and an attempt to satisfy all food cravings at some point of time, if not regularly. Avoid junk food as far as possible, but at the same time do not reduce your regular allowed intake of salt. In fact, people who exercise regularly and sweat it out do not need to follow a salt-free diet at all, except compensate the excess salt taken once in a while. This helps in not only keeping the body minerals in balance, but also helps the body digest all kinds of food!

Categories: Diet, Health, Nutrition