7 Signs You’re Eating Too Much Salt

According to the most recent dietary guidelines, it's recommended to take 2,300 milligrams of sodium (1 tsp) per day. However, it's estimated that our average daily consumption is closer to 3,400 milligrams of sodium (about 1 and 1/3 tsp). Excess salt intake may cause hypernatremia and lead to serious health problems with time.

Bright Side made a list of the most common signs that you're probably eating too much salt in your diet.

7. Swelling

If your rings are feeling a bit tight, your feet feel swollen or you have puffy eyes in the morning, you're probably eating too much salt. The condition when your body starts holding extra water as a result of high salt intake is called edema and should be treated by a very restricted diet.

6. Excessive thirst

Sodium found in salt helps balance fluid in your body. When you eat too much salt, your body needs more fluids to help clear out your system so that your muscles and other organs can operate properly. That’s your body’s way of correcting the sodium-water ratio, and drinking water is the best way to return things back to normal.

  • Remember that not drinking enough water could force your body to draw fluid out of cells and this could make you dehydrated.

5. Changes in urination

As a rule, sodium buildup in your body provokes serious changes in urination that can occur because of two reasons:

  • Consuming lots of salt makes your kidneys work overtime in order to remove it from the body. This may result in kidney disease that usually makes urination more frequent with pee that appears transparent or completely clear.
  • Having too much sodium in your body can be a result of losing fluids that often leads to dehydration. When there's significant water loss in the body, your urine output decreases and turns thick and dark yellow.

4. Achy bones

Salt intake can be a great obstacle to a sturdy skeleton. When you eat too much regular table salt, your kidneys can’t flush it out completely, and this increases calcium loss greatly. A chronic calcium deficiency can result in weak bones, problems with your teeth, and can even cause a development of osteoporosis.

3. Muscle cramps

Maintaining the right sodium-potassium balance is crucial for your health as these chemical elements are responsible for muscle contraction. If you upset the balance by overusing a saltshaker or overconsuming salty foods, you may experience cramps or tightness and pain in your muscles.

2. Persistent headaches

Excess sodium consumption increases the volume of your blood so that it takes up more space in your blood vessels. This expansion of blood vessels causes high blood pressure (hypertension) and as a result, may trigger severe headaches.

1. Cognitive problems

Hypertension caused by high salt intake can damage the arteries leading to your brain. This could affect your ability to think clearly and make it harder for you to concentrate on daily tasks.

Besides that, constant dehydration can lead to poor memory, a feeling of tiredness and slow reaction time.

Bonus: How to reduce salt intake

  • Stay away from the "Salty Six" foods - bread and rolls, pizza, sandwiches and burgers, cold cuts and cured meats, canned soups, burritos, and tacos.
  • Avoid any processed or restaurant foods as they're usually high not only in additives and preservatives but in sodium as well.
  • Always look at the nutrition label and check the sodium percentage - it's better to choose foods with 5% or less of the daily value of sodium per serving.
  • Experiment with new flavors! Instead of adding salt, aim to enhance the flavor of your meals with fresh or dried herbs, or acids like lemon juice and vinegar.

How much salt do you ingest on a daily basis? Tell us about your eating habits in the comments!

Illustrated by Natalia Tylosova and Daniil Shubin for Bright Side
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