Health and Environment|

People Need to Cut Back on Salt

Tipped Over SaltBy now, most people know that salt is something that the body needs. However, according to new reports, the body may not need as much of it as what some use to think. In fact, there has been a global effort lately in getting people to cut back on their dietary salt intake. By doing this, people could help reduce problems like cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.

Of course, not everyone is happy about this news. Both the food and the salt industry are fighting this new salt reduction plan. Oddly enough, they are fighting this policy despite the fact that only about 10 percent of salt sold around the world enters the food chain. This means that salt is normally used for other reasons.

So this brings up the question: Why is the salt and food industry fighting this new move? Well, the salt industry is fighting the policy because it will cut into their profits (even if just a little). The food industry, on the other hand, wants to continue to add salt to food. This is because research shows that salt in food, as well as beverages, stimulates taste buds in people. This in turn helps to increase demand for that product. If people start cutting back on salt, then it could reduce demand for their products.

Either way, doctors and other health experts are suggesting that people reduce their salt intake by at least 3g of salt per day. By reducing salt intake, it is estimated that there will be an annual gain of about 392,000 quality adjusted life years (also known as QALYs). Not only that, but people in the United States would save about $24 billion in healthcare costs. All of this can be done by simply reducing salt intake.

Simon Capewell, MD, said that the extra sodium associated with salt intake does have very harmful effects on the body. Yes, it tastes good, but is it worth the damage that is being done to the body? He went on to say that some of the harmful effects on the body include a stiffing of the blood vessels and reduced kidney function. Some reports even say that it causes the body to retain extra fluids within the circulatory system.

If people can reduce their daily salt intake by 5g a day, then the benefits continue to grow. By decreasing salt intake by this much, people may have a decreased chance of getting the cardiovascular disease. It should also decrease the risk of people getting a stroke. To prove that these kinds of diet changes work, experts have been pointing to other countries like Finland and Japan. Here salt intake is lower among the general population than in other countries. That being said, there are fewer cases of coronary heart disease and stroke.

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