Monday, July 11, 2011

Salt and Heart diseases


           In modern society most people tend to have low salt diets. When we questioned about it they use to tell that one of their family members is suffering from a cardiac disease. So what is the relationship between salt and heart diseases? First I was confused by it because people started to use salt in their foods thousands of years ago. And salt contains Na+ (sodium) which is an important element in human body.
        Salt or Sodium chloride (NaCl) is used as a preservative as well as a seasoning in the ancient time. And by now we know that Sodium is an essential element in human body where as having Sodium in the fluid outside cell as the major cation, is important to a correct functioning of the nerve system since action potential occurs due to the Na+ (Sodium) K+ (Potassium) ion distribution across the cell membrane. And Sodium helps to maintain electrochemical balance in the body. This important element of Sodium (Na+) gets in to the body mainly through salt.
        So how can this important element cause serious heart diseases? Is it possible? The answer is yes, salt can cause heart diseases. When Sodium (Na+) is present in blood in excess levels it causes retain fluid from the kidney, by secreting more ADH (hormone) from pituitary. Retaining more fluid from kidney increases the blood pressure. You all know that high blood pressure leads to several cardiac diseases where heart has to put extra effort to pump blood to organs and this will lead to several other health related problems if you are having high level of cholesterols. So what should we do? Do we have to stop the usage of salt? If we stop using salt in food what will replace the Sodium (Na+) that is excreted from our body with urine. So it is better to reduce the salt consumption. But it has to be done with care because less salt in the body can increase the stress in the body systems thus reducing insulin sensitivity and affecting the hormones that control blood pressure.
          Now you might get confused by this because the consumption of both more and less salt can cause heart diseases. What is the correct level of salt that we have to consume? It is generally recommended that we should consume 24000mg of Sodium (Na+) for a day and to obtain that much of Sodium (Na+) people should use about 6g of salt which is nearly a full teaspoon of salt. For that we have to prepare our foods by ourselves. And we have to reduce the use of process food items like sausages and instant noodles since these process foods contain salt that is beyond the required level of the human body. So it is better if you can use process foods which are low salt foods (120mg/100g). through that usage I’m sure everyone can spend a fairly healthy life thus controlling the risk of having a heart attack in near future.