An average Indians consumes almost 10.98 grams of salt per day, that is a whopping 119% more than the recommended limit of 5 grams a day by WHO (Journal of Hypertension).
Although sodium is an essential nutrient required for optimal functioning of nerves, fluid balance and strong muscles, excess salt intake has been linked to increased risk of high blood pressure, a leading cause of heart disease and stroke (WHO)
Sodium occurs naturally in a lot of healthy foods like chicken and dairy products. And while salt is something unavoidable in regular meals, it’s possible Indians are consuming more that we need.
Why Us ?
Popular snack brands like PepsiCo, Domino’s, ITC, Patanjali, Hindustan Unilever, Nestle, McDonald’s, Subway and Burger King sell products with salt contents much higher than the threshold set by the country’s food regulator, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).
And people who eat these processed and packaged foods in urban areas and salted pickles in rural India might invariably end up eating unhealthy amounts of salt.
More than half of the dietary salt consumed comes from hidden sources such as processed foods, be it breads, processed meats (cold cuts and sausages), cheese, biscuits, cookies, cakes and packaged munches like chips, crisps and savory mixes.
Here are 7 sneaky signs you might be consuming excessive salt in your diet regularly.
SIGN 1 : You are constantly bloated
Sodium is essential for maintaining fluid balance, too much salt can cause water retention (John Hopkins Study, 2019)
You might have swollen ankles or fingers in the morning, which could be due to excessive fluid build up (edema) due to high salt consumption.
Additionally high sodium diets include processed and packaged foods that are lower in fiber rich foods and whole grains.
SIGN 2 : You are constipated
Too much salt in your diet can cause the water in your intestine to move to other body parts to achieve fluid balance. And the foods that are usually high in salts are processed and may contain high amounts of fats and refined sugar which can also contribute to constipation.
Hydrating foods like fruits and fiber rich vegetables can give you healthy bowel movement.
SIGN 3 : Headaches keep happening
Sodium is required for fluid balance and a high intake of salt can lead to fluid imbalance. Dehydration can lead to headaches and if you are drinking enough water, your sodium intake could be putting your fluid balance out of whack and giving you frequent headaches.
SIGN 4 : You want to drink water all the time
If you consume a lot of sodium, your body is going to signal that it needs more water to help balance things out. Excess sodium in the blood, caused by not drinking enough water on a regular basis, which has made you dehydrated and makes you feel thirsty.
Sign 5 : You feel like urinating a lot
Frequent urination is a crucial sign that you are consuming too much salt. You might feel an urgent need to wake up in the middle of the night to urinate. However, please ensure that you contact your physician regarding this symptom as it also occurs in other health conditions.
SIGN 6 : You have high blood pressure
We all know that excess salt intake is linked to high BP. As sodium can pull excess fluid into the bloodstream to prevent imbalance and also cause damage to vessel linings in the long run, which can in turn lead to more heart complications.
So, it’s essential if you have elevated blood pressure already to step up your fibre game, reduce salt intake and eat lots of fruits and veggies.
SIGN 7 : You crave more salty food
Regular food is boring and bland and you feel the need to add more salt to it? It could be because excess salt consumption has got your taste buds to adapt to the saltiness, so you also feel like eating more peanuts, chips and other snacks.
So what’s the solution?
Add more fiber rich foods like fruits and vegetables and whole grains into your diet, increase daily water consumption, check nutrition labels and cut down on processed and packaged foods!
Please note : This is generic information about excess salt consumption. Always consult your doctor and nutritionist before making any major dietary changes.