Maintaining a low sodium diet is an important aspect of healthy living. As a standard, your dietary intake of sodium should not exceed 2,000 milligrams per day. Any excess amount can inhibit the absorption of other nutrients and disruption normal functions of your body. The following are eight dangerous health consequences of eating too many salty foods.
1. High Blood Pressure
High dietary intake of sodium is the No. 1 cause of hypertension. Sodium regulates your body’s water balance. Higher blood level of sodium promotes the transport of water molecules into your vessels, increasing your blood volume and blood pressure. Studies have shown that reducing your sodium intake through diet can lower your blood pressure by as much as 25%, significantly decreasing your risk for cardiovascular disease.
2. Ventricular Hypertrophy and Heart Failure
Abnormal heart development is the other reason why high salt intake can be detrimental to your heart. Excessively high blood volume can overwork your heart, making it become enlarged and weak. Studies have shown that high salt intake is a direct cause of left ventricular hypertrophy, which is a strong risk factor for heart failure and other cardiovascular diseases, independent of your blood pressure.
3. Osteoporosis and Poor Bone Development
Sodium inhibits your body’s absorption and utilization of calcium. Studies have shown that a high salt diet causes the loss of bone density, increasing your chances for syndromes like brittle bones and osteoporosis.
4. Kidney Stones and Renal Failure
Excess calcium and sodium that are not used by your body will concentrate in your urine, increasing the filtration load of your kidneys. Evidence shows that people who regularly eat salty foods are more likely to develop kidney stones and generally have poorer kidney function. Elevated blood pressure and blood volume can further exacerbate the damage to your kidneys, significantly increasing your potential for kidney diseases and renal failure.
5. Dehydration and Edema
Excessive salt intake can cause fluid to leak out of your cells and blood vessels and become trapped in your tissues. You can feel intense thirst, drink lots of water, but remain dehydrated. You can also exhibit severe swelling in your feet, ankle and legs as well as other parts of your body. Reduce your salt intake can effectively prevent dehydration and edema.
6. Breathing Difficulties
Too much sodium can cause fluid buildup in your lungs, leading to shortness of breath and labored breathing. Respiratory failure and death may occur in severe cases.
7. Duodenal and Gastric Ulcers and Cancers
Sodium regulates the acid-base balance of blood and body fluids. You can develop heart burns and esophageal acid reflux syndromes through eating salty foods. Studies have shown that long-term high salt intake can increase you risks for duodenal and gastric ulcers and cancers.
8. Electrolyte and Hormonal Imbalance
Excessive salt intake impacts both your electrolyte balance and your hormones. It can severely hinder the conduction of nerve impulses and induce symptoms like dizziness, muscle cramps and shakiness. You can also have impaired sensory response and feel disoriented and nauseous. Studies have shown that a high salt diet can often lead to higher stress levels and overeating, making you much more susceptible to depression, anxiety and obesity.