Do you like salty treats? Do you always sprinkle salt on your dinner? Like many, you may be consuming too much sodium (a dietary mineral in salt), and experts are worried about its impact on our health.

The British Heart Foundation is calling for urgent action, saying that people are “consuming much higher levels of salt than they are aware of.” Charities believe that introducing taxes to reduce the salt content of foods could save lives.

“Sodium overdose is very common around the world,” agrees Dr. Jay Shah, Cardiologist and Chief Health Officer at Aktiia, which manufactures 24/7 wearable blood pressure monitors. “The average intake of sodium is about twice the recommended value. [amount].. “

Certainly salt is needed. However, according to the NHS, adults need to consume no more than 6g of salt (2.4g of sodium) per day. This is a teaspoon. But part of the problem is that many foods we buy, especially processed foods such as bread, sauces, soups, cereals, bacon / ham, already contain a lot of “hidden” salt. is.

So what does excess salt really do to our body?

Water retention

Have you ever felt bloating or bloating after a salty meal? These things are often associated with water retention. Sodium plays an important role in the way the body regulates water levels, so salt can be a factor here.

High blood pressure

But this is not just swelling. It is also a major cause of high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke, a leading cause of death and severe disability in the United Kingdom. According to experts, mainly dealing with high blood pressure can prevent about 80% of strokes, and it is important to reduce salt intake.

As Dr. Shah says, “High salt intake is one of the causes of high blood pressure, which is the most common reversible risk factor for cardiovascular death and illness.”

It is important to check your blood pressure regularly (Alamy / PA)

Victoria Taylor, Senior Dietitian at The Hart Foundation, explains: This is because the sodium contained in the salt keeps our body in the water, and the more water in the blood vessels, the higher the blood pressure. High blood pressure can pose a risk of developing heart disease and cardiovascular disease. “

It is important to note that high blood pressure usually does not cause any noticeable symptoms. Therefore, it is very important to check your blood pressure on a regular basis. Keeping salt intake at the right level helps, but some people need medication to help manage high blood pressure.

stomach cancer

Stomach cancer is the fifth most common cancer in the world (although less common in the UK), and a salty diet is associated with the disease.

Salt can contribute to stomach damage (Alamy / PA)

According to the World Cancer Research Fund International, “too much salt can cause lesions in the lining of the stomach, which can ultimately lead to enough damage to cause cancer.”

An important factor here is thought to be how salt can damage the stomach and affect Helicobacter pylori, a bacterial infection with a high risk of gastric cancer. High salt intake has been shown to exacerbate these effects.


Many are recognized as risk factors for osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a condition in which bones become thinner and weaker due to hormonal changes during menopause, other specific conditions, medications, and malnutrition. Too much salt can also affect bone health.

According to World Action On Salt, Sugar and Health (WASSH), high salt intake can increase urinary excretion of calcium. Calcium is essential for healthy bones. Studies show that this is especially important during adolescence, a critical period for developing strong bones.

What can you do about it?

“Most of the salt in our food is already present before we buy it, which means we’ll consume more than we think,” Taylor says. increase. “Reducing salt in the diet is an important way to control blood pressure and help reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.”

This means getting into the habit of thinking carefully before adding salt to your diet and checking the salt / sodium content on food labels.

“To keep your mind healthy, focus on eating more fruits, vegetables, fish, legumes and whole grains and reducing foods high in salt, sugar and saturated fat such as cakes, biscuits and sweets.” She adds. “Exercise regularly, quit smoking, and maintain a healthy weight are also important ways to reduce your risk of heart and cardiovascular disease.”

If you are concerned about your health or diet, be sure to consult your doctor.

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