Kidneys play an important role in the removal of waste products and toxins from the body. Salt being the integral part of our body and the food consumed is directly linked to rising kidney issues in India. The excess salt in the body may lead to malfunctioning of the kidneys and excess fluid retention in the body.
Salt is an important component of the human body required to conduct nerve impulses, relax muscles, and maintain the balance of water and minerals. It is an important component of our extracellular fluid that carries along with it vital nutrients to all the tissues in the body. Salt contains 40% of sodium and 60% of chloride. We recommend a daily intake of 500 mg of salt to maintain the proper functioning of the body in normal healthy person. The absence of which may lead to low blood pressure, dizziness, and eventually coma and death.
Based on the NHANES data Americans consume anywhere from 3.2 to 4.2 grams of sodium/day and 80% of it comes from packaged food and restaurants. We Indians too consume quite a bit of sodium as we have started to copy the westerners. Sodium is responsible for many illnesses like high blood pressure, heart attacks, heart failure, strokes, kidney disease, carcinoma of stomach and other cancers, asthma, osteoporosis Menier’s disease, etc. Thus, excess salt is deleterious to the body and the kidneys are the saviour of life to a great extent as they regulate the salt and water balance.
Avoid consuming more than the required amount of salt, as the salt in blood attracts more water and increases the volume of blood. The increased amount of blood exerts a force on the walls of blood vessels causing hypertension. The narrowed blood vessels further leads to decreased flow of blood to the kidneys, leading to water retention in the body. Systemic Hypertension over a long period can damage vital organs like the Heart, Brain, Kidneys, Blood vessels, Stomach, etc.
The ascribed causes for increased salt or sodium sensitivity are defective renal sodium excretion, increased activity of Sodium hydrogen exchanger, increased sympathetic activity, increased calcium in the vascular smooth muscle, and reduced Nitric oxide (normally this causes vasodilation and reduces blood pressure). The renal effects due to high and sustained salt consumption are systematic high blood pressure damaging the kidney over 15-20 years of time, proteinuria, chronic kidney disease, and renal stones.
Notably, salt consumption is mostly from junk foods, processed foods, canned items (80%), and the addition of extra salt in the diet (20%). This practice of taking excess salt also indirectly promotes excessive gain in weight as one tends to eat voraciously and invites metabolic syndrome.
The role played by salt in human life is equal to that of oxygen for human survival. The sodium is invariably provided by the normal food one consumes. Hence, one should avoid taking additional salt to prevent salt-associated diseases. High Blood pressure is only the tip of the iceberg of salt toxicity; other newly diagnosed diseases are being recognised off late from the on-going research and studies.
Salt is the new poison along with the sugar in causing ill-health, and hence, needs to be consumed in minimal quantities. We in Manipal hospitals recommend taking less than 2 grams of sodium per day to keep oneself away from diseases and to lead a healthy life.
(This article is attributed to Dr. G K Prakash, Senior Consultant – Nephrologist, Manipal Hospital Malleshwaram)
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. They do not reflect the views of India TV)