Table salt is made up of two elements, sodium and chlorine. So, technically salt is sodium chloride, which many refer to as sodium for short.
Your body needs some salt in order for you maintain your health. Yet many folks consume way more than they’ll ever need. For most, anything over a teaspoon (2.4 grams) a day of any form of sodium is too much.
Sodium is used by your body to:
- aid transmission of nerve impulses
- help maintain the right fluid balance
- assist in contracting & relaxing muscles
Your kidneys are the regulators of salt, so when levels are low they conserve and when high they excrete the excess via your urine.
If you ingest too much salt and your kidneys can’t get rid of it, then it builds up in your blood. And because sodium attracts and retains water, your blood volume increases. This in turn, makes your heart work harder to move more blood, which increases pressure in your arteries. As a result, too much salt causes hypertension.
Some health conditions that can lead to your kidney’s inability to control sodium chloride are:
- kidney failure
- chronic kidney disease
- congestive heart failure
In additon, some are just more sensitive to the effects of sodium and retain it more easily. This causes excess fluid retention and an increase in blood pressure.
The ultimate health effects of too much sodium puts you at risk for:
- heart attack
- heart disease
If you have high blood pressure, then you’ve probably been instructed to reduce your salt intake. Thus, your diet needs to consist of low sodium foods. And keep in mind that sodium occurs naturally in nearly all foods.
On the flip side, the health effects of abnormally low levels of sodium in your blood is a condition called hyponatremia.