Are you one of those people who are overly concerned about their salt intake? Do you normally check the sodium content on the labels of food products? Are you a believer of salt being an enemy of good health?
For decades, the government has been warning people about sodium. They say, sodium increases blood pressure, which may lead to heart diseases and stroke. However, all the scientific researches against salt have failed to prove its connection to heart disease. They also failed to show benefits of low-sodium diets and actually show disadvantages.
If you answered yes to the above questions, don’t be guilty – it’s not your fault. And here are more facts about salt you need to know:
What Started The War Against Salt?
One of the first causes of the fear of salt is the report of a French doctor in 1904, that 6 of their subjects who had high-blood pressure consumes a larger than normal amount of salt. Then, dozens of studies tried to prove the theory that low-salt diet can reduce hypertension. However, they failed to show the connection between sodium and heart diseases, by ignoring other factors such as sugar intake. This is especially true with the 1997 DASH-sodium study. Few studies show that sodium reduction may slightly reduce blood pressure, but doesn’t have any effect on their heart problems.
Salt Restriction Can Cause Harm
Sodium is an essential part of healthy diet, and removing it may cause illness and reduce our energy. One example of illness low sodium intake may cause is Hyponatremia, a potentially life-threatening condition.
But why do we need sodium in the first place? It is because sodium helps us maintain balance between intracellular and extracellular fluids.
While sodium reduction can SLIGHTLY reduce blood pressure, it doesn’t have a significant effect on preventing heart problems.
How Much Sodium is Ideal?
One may answer this as “not too little, and not too much.” However, too little or too much may depend on one’s diet pattern and existing health conditions. Also, it’s important to mention that salt is not the only source of sodium. You might not be aware that your regular bread already contains sodium.
Another answer is to stop the obsession with measurement, and focus on eating real, organic food, and add sea salt (not iodized salt) whenever appropriate for seasoning. Given the popularity of processed food as most people’s main source of sodium, taking a different route by eating healthy meals and consuming natural sources of sodium will help you attain the ideal amount.
Shift Focus from Sodium to Other Dietary Factors
As mentioned, sodium bears no significance when talking about heart problems such as hypertension. That being said, it’s better to shift our focus to other more important factors contributing to blood pressure.
Magnesium and potassium are few of the minerals that help reduce blood pressure, and they can be easily obtained by eating plants and animals. Low-carb diet is also another way to reduce blood pressure and lose weight.
The bottom line is to focus on other factors that have more positive or negative effects on our blood pressure, instead of sodium.
The war against salt is one of the longest-running debates among medicine experts. But what these studies prove is not whether salt is bad or good – it is that salt, or sodium, should be taken in moderation, like anything else.
Healthy living is not achieved by focusing on one factor and ignoring the others. It is attained through a holistic approach and maintaining balance. Well being, therefore, can be attained not only by focusing on foods, but on our over-all lifestyle.
Drishti Plan helps people make healthy lifestyle choices using a holistic approach. Call us today and get the healthy life you deserve!