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Good Food Good Health-Salt
Hi to all
You’re like me, confused by the amount of information we’ve been given recently about the amount of salt in our food and how it can affect our health. We are told that too much salt causes health problems, but then too little salt can also be harmful to our health
Salt is about 40 percent sodium and is a metal, in almost all staple foods – from fruits and vegetables to common tap water, sodium is present in small amounts.
To maintain good health, we all need some sodium in our diet, but too much, and especially continuous high amounts, causes high blood pressure, which greatly increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.
I believe more and more of us are aware of these health risks due to recent media coverage, but less well known is that it is also linked to stomach cancer and brittle bones. Water retention is also a side effect.
The latest information we’ve been given is that eating too much salt in your diet can give you ulcers, according to new research. Ulcers affect the health of one in eight people in Britain and salt has been found to help nurture the bacteria behind most stomach ulcers, leading to symptoms ranging from a mild burning sensation to actually vomiting blood.
Many of these cases are caused by the bacterium Heliobacter pylori, which tricks the stomach into producing too much acid, causing ulcers and poor health. Researchers at the American University of Health Sciences discovered that high levels of salt cause genetic changes in this bug, making it even more powerful, and warned that we all need to learn about the health risks associated with too much salt.
The Food Standards Agency recommends that adults should eat no more than 6 grams of salt, which equates to about 2.5 grams of sodium. For children, it obviously varies by age, as shown in the table below
up to 6 months – less than — 1g — 0.4 mg
6 – 12 months — 1 g — 0.4 mg
Children 1-3 years old — 2g — 800mg
Children 4-6 years old — 3g — 1.2g
Children 7-10 years old — 5g — 2g
Children over 11 years old — 6g — 2.4g
An easy way to calculate salt from sodium is to multiply the amount of sodium by 2.5, this can be very useful when calculating the amount of salt in some foods where the labeling is confusing.
Of course, parents should not add salt to children’s food, and certainly not to babies, as their kidneys cannot process high levels of it, and too much of it has even been known to be fatal in children under one year old.
We know that for good health we should know exactly how much salt we consume in our diet, but it is difficult today to know how much, as more and more people today eat ready meals and processed foods, and these products are not always presented clearly and exact quantities.
Food manufacturers add sodium to many types of food that we would never dream of containing it, or amount, because apparently our palette “taste buds” have changed over the years, saying that consumers expect that “taste” now. Our taste buds are generally a good guide to how salty our food is, but manufacturers also often use sugars in these foods to mask the saltiness and trick our taste buds!
Experts now say that overall only 6 percent of salt is actually added to food at the table, 9 percent is added during cooking and a whopping 75 percent of everything we eat comes from processed foods and that includes bread, puddings and breakfast cereals . .
Health professionals have campaigned for clear labeling of the amount used in food preparation and for greater awareness of the health problems of consuming too much salt and I hope that after reading this article you will become more familiar with the health concerns attributed in high salt consumption.
So now we should all get in the habit of looking at product labels carefully and remember not to confuse salt with sodium when you do. A high salt product is one with 1.5g (0.6g sodium) or higher per 100g of product, so anything lower is a much healthier choice and obviously the lower the content the better for your good health.
If you’re a fan of kava salt and regularly add it to your food, the best way to cut back is to give your taste buds an alternative healthier flavor enhancer. There are many you can try, garlic is one, freshly ground black pepper is excellent, try using lemon juice or fresh herbs and spices to add great flavor. Chili is also another good one to try, but it’s an acquired taste.
Another way to wean yourself off big is to gradually reduce the amount you add to your food, allowing the taste buds to adjust.
Hyponatremia is a condition in which someone is low on sodium and when left untreated can cause dizziness, confusion and unexplained fatigue.
Hyponatremia is more likely to affect the elderly, especially if they use diuretics. Diuretic drugs are used to treat problems such as high blood pressure and heart disease by reducing the level of excess fluid in the body that can affect the body’s basic salt (or electrolyte) levels needed to maintain good health and vital functions.
Just this year a marathon runner died shortly after finishing his race, and the diagnosis was that he had been drinking so much water that he had lost too many body salts by urinating and sweating profusely.
Obviously, then, there is a concern that some health-conscious conscientious people might cut their salt intake too low and create problems for themselves. Healthy and balanced diet is always best for good health.
So like me now, don’t forget to make it a habit to read your food labels, including bread, whether you buy it from a bakery or supermarket, as it’s always listed in the ingredients, to make sure you’re only eating the healthy amount required. I know this can be confusing and tedious, but it is for our benefit.
Sandra and Ted Wosko
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