A salty Solution
Hello, this is your kidneys calling. Listen, we’re gonna Need you to lay off the salt. Seriously, it’s for your own good!
You might not consider yourself much of a salt fiend, but it’s quite possible you’re inadvertently consuming way more than you think. Like sugar, salt – aka sodium chloride – is everywhere; just because you don’t add it to recipes or shake it on at the table doesn’t mean you’re safe from its sneaky reach. Although we need a certain amount of sodium for optimum nerve and muscle function and to help balance fluids, our kidneys begin to get pissy (no pun intended) if they’re constantly battling to excrete an excess.
Why it’s a problem
Excess sodium intake can lead to high blood pressure which is a major risk factor for heart disease. Also called hypertension, HBP speeds the build-up of plaque on vessel walls, which can cause blocked arteries. The more gummed up they are, the harder the heart has to work to pump blood around the body, increasing the risk of heart attack. Many people have HBP and don’t know it, because symptoms aren’t obvious.
There’s more, of course – too much sodium can lead to stroke, kidney disease and even osteoporosis, since a high salt intake can leach calcium from bones, especially in postmenopausal women. It can also cause bloating and fluid retention and make you feel generally icky. Ready to check your intake yet?
Pushing the limits
Experts say we should keep sodium intake to less than 2300mg per day. That’s about one teaspoon of salt. If you have HBP or heart disease, the recommendation is no more than 1600mg – just over half a tsp of salt. For perspective, Aussies currently consume almost twice as much as the recommended amount!