Monday, May 27, 2024

What happens to the body when you give up salt for a month? – N.F Times

Salt is an essential ingredient in our diet — it adds flavour, preserves food, and enhances the texture of food items. However, salt intake comes with its own set of health consequences.

Excessive salt consumption has been linked to various health issues, especially hypertension, a leading risk factor for heart disease and stroke. It can also strain the kidneys, potentially leading to kidney damage or kidney stones. Moreover, a high-salt diet may increase the risk of stomach cancer and osteoporosis.

As such, should one eliminate salt from their diet? Additionally, what are the possible health consequences of giving up salt for a month for starters? We reached out to experts to delve deeper!

A human body cannot live without some sodium. “When you completely give up salt for a month, several changes occur in the body. Initially, you may experience a decrease in water retention and a temporary drop in blood pressure due to reduced sodium intake. Over time, taste buds become more sensitive to subtle flavours, and you may find that foods taste different or even bland,” she said, adding that a complete lack of salt can lead to electrolyte imbalances, affecting muscle function, nerve transmission, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and overall body hydration.

Excessive salt consumption has been linked to hypertension

Forget complete elimination, even a lack of salt can induce coma, shock, or death, Bose said. “So, it is important to maintain a balanced intake of essential minerals through other sources and consult a healthcare professional before making significant dietary changes. Our body needs daily 5 gm means 1 teaspoon of salt for a normal person. Unless a person is having any renal, liver or cardiac issues like Dilated Cardiomyopathy, salt intake should not be reduced in our daily diet.”

Low sodium levels in the body can cause muscular cramping, nausea, vomiting, and dizziness in extreme situations. “Shortage of salt can eventually result in shock, coma, and death. Because our meals include more than enough salt, severe salt loss is quite improbable. Adults who consume fewer than 5 grammes of salt per day have lower blood pressure and a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and coronary heart attack. The primary advantage of reducing salt intake is a reduction in high blood pressure.

As such, it is not generally suggested to completely give up salt for a month unless specifically advised by a healthcare professional. “While excessive salt intake can have negative health effects, eliminating salt from the diet can disrupt the body’s electrolyte balance and cause health issues. Sodium is an essential mineral needed for various bodily functions, including fluid balance, nerve function, and muscle contractions. It is recommended to consume salt in moderation and choose healthier, less processed sources of sodium, such as sea salt, Himalayan pink salt, or natural salts found in whole foods.

Complete elimination of salt can lead to cardiac issues

Athletes, too, are at risk of several health concerns if they decide to eliminate salt from their diets. “Hyponatremia is a condition in which the body has insufficient salt to function normally. Without salt consumption, a high-performance athlete will become quite unwell in less than two days. Because salt is essential for optimal heart and muscle function, heart failure is a genuine risk.

Considering these factors, how can one strike a perfect balance regarding salt consumption – to avoid its health repercussions and reap its benefits? Bose said that instead of eliminating salt, opting for healthier alternatives and reducing overall sodium intake is advisable. “Some healthier alternatives to try include using herbs and spices to enhance flavours in cooking, such as garlic, ginger, turmeric, oregano, or cinnamon, mint, basil, nutmeg, and paprika.

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