Salt is a flavoring agent that most people use in their food. However, sometimes, this may go overboard and people may end up eating too much salt. High salt intake and its dangers are common and most of us are aware of its effects on blood pressure and heart diseases.
However, is salt really bad for the body? Many believe that salt is unhealthy for the body; however, it isn’t true. Salt is an essential part of the diet and a low intake of salt can cause health concerns.
Let’s examine the importance of salt in the human body.
Importance of Salt In The Body
Salt is nothing but sodium and chloride. However, enough amount of sodium is important for the normal functioning of the human body. Some salts, especially table salts, are iodized meaning they contain traces of the element iodine which is essential for the body. Adding enough amount of salt to your diet helps your body receive the sodium it requires.
- Sodium and chloride are essential electrolytes in the body and they are obtained from salt. These electrolytes are important because they help maintain water balance.
- Sodium is also important for muscle contractions, including the heart muscles.
- Sodium also plays a role in the absorption of nutrients and, therefore, plays a role in digestion.
- Iodized salts that contain iodine may help prevent iodine deficiency.
Although salt is important for the body, you should not consume it in large quantities. A lot of salt is present in the processed foods like bread which are available in the markets. So, let’s examine the recommended intake of salt per day for an individual.
Recommended Salt Intake
The recommended intake of salt is different for adults and children. Eating too much salt can cause health conditions like high blood pressure and heart diseases. Therefore, it is important to take the right amount of salt. Adults should not consume more than 6 grams of salt a day. However, babies under 12 months should consume less than 1 gram of salt every day. The recommended intake of salt for adults and children are listed below:1
- 1 to 3 years: 2 g of salt a day (0.8 g sodium)
- 4 to 6 years: 3 g of salt a day (1.2 g sodium)
- 7 to 10 years: 5 g of salt a day (2 g sodium)
- 11 years and over: 6 g of salt a day (2.4 g sodium)
Therefore, to stay healthy it is important not to go overboard with salt. In addition, less salt in your diet can impact the body negatively. It may also be the cause of unwanted weight gain.
Salt Deficiency May Lead To Weight Gain
If you are on a low-salt diet to reach your weight loss goals faster, you may want to rethink your diet plan. This is because a low-salt diet may cause you to have a mineral deficiency in the long run. Mineral deficiencies can have a negative impact on your body’s metabolism and the immune system. A defective metabolism may cause you to be overweight.2
Another reason why low-salt diets can lead to weight gain is that it may trigger cravings. For instance, if your body is deficient in salt, it may try and compensate it with something else. Most often, it is sugar. Consuming sugary foods can lead to unwanted weight gain. In addition, the low-salt versions of certain foods like chips and popcorn may cause you to eat more than what you would eat with the normal salted packets. This means you are increasing your refined carbohydrate intake, causing you gain those unwanted extra pounds in your body.
In more serious cases, low salt means low sodium levels in the body. This can lead to muscle cramps, nausea, vomiting, and dizziness.
So, it is important to have a normal intake of salt every day. Unless recommended by a doctor, do not limit your salt intake because you want to lose body fat faster. It may just have the opposite effect on your body and may cause other imbalances in the long term. Instead, stick to healthy ways of reducing weight like exercising regularly and following healthy eating habits.