Everyone knows that eating a lot of salt is harmful, but you can’t do without it at all. Where is the line between harm and benefit? Why salt is addictive and where to look for “hidden salt”?

told about this general practitioner Elena Popova.

Salt is essential; without it, the body cannot function. Sodium binds water, participates in muscle contraction, secretion of hormones. Salt contributes to the formation of the conditions necessary for the existence of erythrocytes (red blood cells). In the stomach, salt forms hydrochloric acid, without which it is impossible to digest food. Cells, muscles and tissues need water, and salt helps them maintain the required amount of moisture inside. Inadequate hydration can cause dehydration, which makes the body susceptible to muscle spasms, dizziness, and fatigue.

She is everywhere

In various types and volumes, salt is found in almost all products. Only 20% of the total amount of salt consumed by a person comes directly from the salt that is added during cooking or at the table.

About 80% of the salt that a person consumes daily is the so-called “hidden salt”. This is the salt that is hidden in processed foods such as bread, cookies, breakfast cereals, sausages, chips, and so on. These foods tend to be the most salty. For example, one hamburger can contain over 1,000 milligrams of sodium.

A large amount of salt is initially found in animal products – meat, fish, eggs. For example, meat dishes prepared without salt already contain about 3-4 g of salt. People on a salt-free diet should take these points into account.

Why the more salty you eat, the more you want?

Salt stimulates the brain in the same way that cigarettes and drugs do. Thus, the more a person consumes salty foods, the stronger his attachment to salty. And too much salt is dangerous.

An excess of salt leads to the fact that fluid begins to linger in the body (1 gram of sodium retains 200 ml of water), which leads to the appearance of latent edema. This negatively affects the work of internal organs. Especially dangerous is an excess of salt in diseases of the kidneys and the cardiovascular system.

Salt prevents the breakdown of your own fats, thereby contributing to weight gain. Salt makes the inner surface of the vessels looser and more susceptible to the deposition of cholesterol and the formation of atherosclerotic plaque.

With excess sodium intake, the body is forced to excrete it in the urine, along with which calcium is also excreted. This leads to calcium deficiency in the body, and its lack leads to osteoporosis. In addition, the excretion of excess sodium in the urine puts additional strain on the kidneys that filter this urine, increasing the risk of kidney stones.

Salt increases the production of hydrochloric acid, which can exacerbate diseases of the gastrointestinal tract. Excessive salt intake also increases the risk of cardiovascular and other non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and chronic lung disease.

The main risk of consuming large amounts of salty foods is an increase in blood pressure (and therefore the risk of vascular accidents). From an excess of salt, diseases of the liver and kidneys, atherosclerosis can form. Also, a large amount of sodium leads to calcium leaching, which threatens to soften bones and teeth.

For most people, the kidneys cannot handle the excess sodium in the blood. As sodium builds up, the body retains water to dilute the sodium. This increases both the amount of fluid surrounding the cells and the volume of blood in the bloodstream. Increased blood volume means more work for the heart and more pressure on the blood vessels.

Salt in large quantities is harmful to everyone without exception.

How much salt can you consume per day?

The physiological norm for a person is the consumption of 5 g of salt per day. In Europe and the USA, the average resident consumes about 10 g,in world – 12 g of salt per day. Patients with hypertension are advised to consume no more than 1 g of salt per day (unless otherwise prescribed by the doctor). Some illnesses require a low-salt or very low-salt diet. These are kidney diseases, enuresis or inflammation of the renal glomeruli, obesity, edema, some heart and vascular diseases, hypertension, in which it is necessary to exclude salt altogether.