Salt is of cardinal importance to humanity since ages. In earlier times things were traded for salt, salt is an integral part of various religious ceremonies and essential to food preparations. Sodium, the main ingredient of salt, is key to numerous diseases and problems when levels are not balanced.
The mineral helps regulate total fluid level in the body and helps in cellular function in the nervous system and muscles. Sodium must be consumed in the right quantity and too much or too little of it can even be fatal sometimes. Research on sodium shows that brain responds to sodium the same way it responds to heroin, cocaine or nicotine and this is one of the reasons for consuming too much salt.
More the sodium content in the body, more is the blood pressure due to fluid retention which can in turn lead to cardiovascular and kidney disease.
Sodium & Bone Health
Individuals consume more sodium than needed and less potassium than recommended. Salt’s main minerals are sodium and chloride. When chloride (an acid) consumption exceeds limits, kidneys come into picture as they are given the responsibility of removing it. But, when kidneys become overburdened with load, body takes back stores from the bone to maintain a balance. The process contributes towards calcium loss contributing to osteoporosis, kidney stones and loss of muscle mass. Sodium and chloride are both stored in the bones. Sodium increases calcium excretion and decreased calcium levels indicates decreased bone density which increases the risk of fracture.
But the converse that a low-salt diet contributes towards stronger bones in postmenopausal women is also not true, according to research studies. All the time we keep speaking about reduced sodium levels for cardiovascular health, but a low-salt intake is needed to prevent impeding of bone health.
One study followed some 70,000 women for 11 years assessing their bone mineral density levels and found some link between increased salt intake and bone health but when BMI levels were measured (as they are said to affect bone strength) there was no link between sodium levels and bone mineral density.
Menopause period is greatly associated with weakened bone strength and involves bone resorption than bone formation. In general, it is recommended to consume a diet rich in calcium (milk, yogurt, green vegetables and cheese) and stay fit for maintaining a good bone health. Limit salt intake to less than 2,400 milligrams daily for a healthy body. More than 75% of the sodium we consume is not from the daily food that we eat but from the processed and restaurant foods that we love to eat. Hence, take care to consume minimal of these processed foods and limit sodium levels. If you would like to get a healthy diet plan limiting sodium intake and increasing healthy nutrients intake, get in touch with a nutritionist/dietitian at www.firsteatright.com.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.