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The Effects of Too Much Salt in Your Diet

By Edited Nov 26, 2015 1 0


As a flavor enhancer, salt has always been a part of our every meal and commercial food products. Because of this, a lot of people are consuming more than the recommended daily dose of sodium, which is 1.5 to 2.3 grams. This can cause a major health problem especially for those who love to eat junk foods, salty dishes and add condiments to their meals. Having said that, one must regulate their sodium intake.  If not, it can definitely lead to several medical conditions. What are these illnesses? You will learn more about the effects of too much salt in your diet as you read further.

Electrolyte Imbalance

Electrolytes are vital for the proper function of your body specifically your nerves, muscles and cardiovascular system. As you know, sodium which is present in salt regulates the water in your body. One of the effects of too much salt in your diet is a type of electrolyte imbalance medically known as hypernatremia. So, what will happen now?

The human brain

Basically, too much salt can cause cell shrinkage since sodium can pull water out of your cells. This may seem minor. But, if left untreated, it can lead to shrinkage of your brain cells. This will inevitably alter not only your mood, but your cognitive abilities as well. Although in most medical cases, hypernatremia is not the primary cause of fatalities, this condition can exacerbate certain medical conditions, which will eventually lead to death.

Nonetheless, you should also keep in mind that sodium is also essential to your health. Lack of sodium and other essential minerals such as calcium and potassium in your body is also unhealthy.

Digestive Problems

What are the effects of too much salt in your gastrointestinal tract?

diagram of the stomach
Your stomach is the specific organ of your digestive system that is significantly affected by salt. As you know, this compound is alkaline in nature while gastric juice is acidic. Neutralization will occur if a strong acid and a strong alkaline react with each other. So, what happens next?

It is a widely known fact that your stomach's acidity is the primary reason food digestion occurs. If there are anomalies in your stomach's pH, it can lead to digestion problems such as acid reflux, indigestion or heartburn. Furthermore, an abnormal pH level can also cause gastric ulcer due to bacterial overgrowth. Your duodenum may also be affected due to this abnormal environment condition. Lastly, several studies have also linked high salt consumption to stomach cancer. 

Kidney and Cardiovascular Diseases

The most common effects of too much salt in your diet are typically related to both your excretory and cardiovascular systems.

Doctor measuring blood pressure
First, is your kidneys. It is a widely known fact that your kidneys filter toxins, regulate electrolytes and pull excess water out of your blood. So, what happens if you include high amounts of sodium in your diet?

This will eventually decrease your kidney’s efficiency to work properly. Hence, high blood pressure may occur. How so? Primarily because of the high blood volume. This is a result when water is not filtered out efficiently. If left untreated, kidney failure may occur and toxic substances is not removed or eliminated out of your body.  

In addition to that, high salt consumption can also strain your blood vessels. Again, this will also lead to hypertension since your blood can't flow freely. This is because, in order to cope with the strain, the muscles of your blood vessels must contract, which will consume more space.

What about your heart? Angina may also occur because of insufficient blood reaching your heart. If this condition continues, it may lead to a heart attack. Remember, the primary role of your circulatory system specifically your blood is to transport or circulate oxygen and nutrients around your body. Without proper nutrients, an organ, in this case your heart deteriorates. 


Finally and last in the list of effects of too much salt in your diet is osteoporosis. So, what is the relationship of sodium and calcium?

Basically, several studies have confirmed that high amounts of sodium lead to excretion of more calcium. As you know, calcium is vital for your bone’s strength and health. Hence, if a lot of calcium is excreted out of your body, osteoporosis may develop. Aside from that, high calcium excretion is also another contributing factor for the formation of kidney stones. 


table salt

As you can see, regular salt may enhance the flavor of your daily snacks or meals. But, in excess amounts it can severely damage your body. If you consume high amounts of sodium, you should also consume high amounts of potassium to avoid electrolyte imbalance. Fruits and vegetables especially bananas are rich in potassium. Even so, it is highly recommended to regulate salt consumption to 1.5 to 2.3 grams a day. 

As of today, there are several types of salt sold in the market. Unlike your regular, some types are superior. This article entitled, "The Most Common Types of Salt in Today's Market: Which Type is Right for You?" may share some insights regarding healthier seasoning options.

You can also use herbs to add flavor in your dishes. Herbs is actually a great alternative you can try to lessen your salt consumption. This article entitled, "Cooking with Herbs: The Most Common Culinary Herbs You can Use to Add Flavor in Your Daily Meals" may also shed some insights on using herbs. 

Tips on How to Reduce Salt Intake

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  1. "Salt linked to Osteoporosis." BBC News. 2/04/2013 <Web >
  2. "Salt and Osteoporosis." world Action on Salt & Healh. 2/04/2013 <Web >
  3. "Electrolyte Imbalance ." Better Medicine . 2/04/2013 <Web >
  4. "Just Kick the Salt Habit." Living and Raw Foods . 2/04/2013 <Web >
  5. "Americans Consume Too Much Sodium (Salt)." Center for Disease Control and Prevention. 11/07/2014 <Web >

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