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Sodium is an essential nutrient for our body, it is added to our meals, it is added to most all the food that you can think of—it is also known as table salt. There are good and bad effect of consuming sodium. Sodium can be used as energy in our body but consuming too much sodium can definitely have bad effects in one’s body. One of the benefits of adding this nutrient into our food are retaining moisture and improving the taste of the food. Although, nowadays sodium is being more consumed through processed foods rather than home cooked meals which is one of the problems we are facing in America. Sodium, if taken in too much, is known to lead to many health diseases like heart disease, kidney disease, and it can even worsen an individual’s disease that is already present. In this report, we’ll learn about the benefits of sodium and most importantly the health risks due to high levels of sodium consumption.
Us, humans consume all our sodium nutrients through the meals that we eat every day. Sodium in the form of salt, is used as seasoning to enhance flavor in one’s meals. According to GB Healthwatch, the main role of sodium in the body is to maintain fluid balance but can also be used to impulse nerve transmission and contraction of the muscles (GB Healthwatch). Depending on what kind of salt is consumed, it can be refined or unrefined, the amounts of salt individuals takes can be determine the good and bad effects of the consumption. Dr. Linda Johnson, who’s a naturopathic doctor, suggest that those who are consuming refined salt to switch to unrefined salt as a healthier alternative. Unrefined salt has shown more benefits to an individual rather than using refined salt because the unrefined salt contains all 84 minerals found in sodium with no additional additives. This form of salt also contains a balance of magnesium, calcium, potassium and other minerals that is essential for out body. Unrefined salt has proven to help lose fluid weight by keeping the body with a proper mineral balance and helps the body to properly balance out its electrolyte minerals to aid in the removal of retained water. (Johnson). However, if too much unrefined salt is taken, it can lead to health risks such as heart disease.
Heart disease as described by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, is the main form of heart diseases and one of the several to lead to heart attacks. Heart disease is a lifelong condition that cannot be cured through surgery or medication but can be treated with procedures such as bypass surgery, which can help blood flow easier back to the heart (NHLBI). Since, there is no cure to heart disease, it is very important to understand the precautions; every individual should be knowledgeable about heart disease and how to prevent this disease, for instance, cooking at home instead of eating processed foods or eating at a fast food restaurant which are higher in sodium. Too much sodium that is taken can bring on high blood pressure, heart attacks, stroke, and heart failure. It is determined that those people who eat more foods or meals that are high in sodium tend to have higher chance of experiencing or dying form a heart attack. In a study performed at the School of Public Health, Harvard, it was proven that those who consumed excess amounts of sodium had a twenty percent higher risk of a fatal incident. In addition to those results, high sodium intake doubled the persons chance of a heart attack (Harvard). Not only can high sodium affect the individual’s heart, but with child, it can definitely experience health risks to their heart because of high sodium intake.
During pregnancy, all of the nutrients the mother consumes are being used to help the baby grow. It is important that expecting mothers know what is essential for her body, along with the growing baby’s body, to reassure a healthier future. For example, many may already know that eating foods high in sodium can cause dangers to the baby’s health when developing and growing inside of the mother. Specialist used pregnant sprage-dawley rats to study the effects that high sodium intake has on the baby fetus. They were able to find that excess salt intake during pregnancy can affect the blood pressure of the offspring along with experiencing vascular morphology. After four weeks of age, the offspring maintained the same diet that was given to them during the mother’s pregnancy through lactation. Those with the higher intake diet showed vascular geometry at seven to twelve weeks postnatally. After twelve weeks, experts were able to determine that high salt intake during pregnancy has indeed long-lasting effects on the formation of the central and muscular arteries of the baby along with effects on the offspring’s blood pressure due to the adverse vascular modeling (Piecha). Studies have also shown that consumption of high amounts of sodium can lead to chronic kidney disease.
In most people, consuming high amount of sodium can cause their kidneys to have trouble working and processing the additional sodium in the bloodstream. People who are at higher risk of chronic kidney disease because of high consumptions of sodium, they also have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease which is the leading cause of death. In a double-blind controlled and random trial for patients with stage three and four chronic kidney disease, the group with a sodium restricted diet showed a significant decrease in blood pressure.
The study includes individuals over the age of eighteen with stage three or four chronic kidney disease, excluding those who had previously had or were planning on having a solid organ transplant. The purpose was to find out if high consumptions of sodium can impact the chances of having a kidney disease, and/or lead to a heart disease in an individual. This study also showed that women were more predominant than men in experiencing chronic kidney disease because of higher consumptions of sodium.
In addition to the study, the experts were able to see that although sodium can help with losing fluid weight, excessive sodium in the kidneys can lead to “affecting kidney’s vascular systems directly, mediating factors such as inflammation, oxidative stress, endothelial dysfunction and arterial stiffness” (Nerbass). The extra amount of sodium that is consumed and placed on the kidneys also proved to increase the risk of progression from stage three and four chronic kidney diseases to end-stage renal disease (Nerbass).
Overall, the experiment was able to prove that consuming foods with high sodium is in fact associated with progression and it can increase risk of developing chronic kidney disease and leading into cardiovascular disease. The experts on the case recommend the need for dietary restriction on sodium due to the confirmation of affects in brings on the body. The results of this study determined that it is important to start this restriction to decrease the adverse outcomes in people with early stages of chronic kidney disease (Nerbass). In this study, the participants were patients who already presented kidney disease, which shows that current health dangers like diabetes can be worsened with continuous intake of too much sodium.
A disease like diabetes which is uncapable to produce or respond well to insulin can lead to elevated levels of glucose in the blood. With a high salt diet in patients with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, the patients are more susceptible to “developing cardiovascular disease or have worsen outcomes after surviving a CVD event” (Gray). The study to prove the risks that high salt diets have on diabetic patients was performed by informing patients of the possible preventions they themselves can do to lower their chances of having a stroke, heart failure, or heart attack by learning to read labels on the food and products they eat.
Most of the people who participated in the study were aware of the dangers of consuming high salt diet can have on their diabetic circumstances. Although, thirty percent of the participants were not aware of the some of the foods they should be avoiding and shouldn’t be eating to lower the chances of experiencing one of the many worsen risks that can come with diabetes. “Approximately 30% of CVD in diabetes can be attributed to raise blood pressure which is the largest direct cause of death due to stroke, heart attack, and heart failure in patients with diabetes” (Gray). Although, in the study, the investigation stated that all types of sodium are not a high level of concern for diabetic patients. Table salt is to be limited to avoid worsening the amount of sodium in the blood and to prevent a dangerous cardiovascular event from happening.
Overall the studies and research have proven that sodium in the form of table salt when taken too much, can cause dangerous harm to our body, specifically in out organs such as the heart and kidney. In addition, it can also worsen current health problems an individual may have like chronic kidney disease and diabetes. Also, if a person has experienced a cardio episode in the past, in continuing a high salt diet—they are increasing the chance of having another cardiac episode. Starting early interventions to prevent chronic diseases from occurring is the beginning to a reduction of these hostile outcomes.
- Gray, et al. “Attitudes and Beliefs of Health Risks Associated with Sodium Intake in Diabetes.” Appetite, vol. 83, 2014, pp. 97–103.
- “Health Risks and Disease Related to Salt and Sodium.” The Nutrition Source, Harvard, School of Public Health, 6 July 2016, www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/salt-and-sodium/sodium-health-risks-and-disease/.
- Johnson, Linda. “Right Kind of Salt Has Health Benefits.” Alamogordo Daily News, 11 Apr. 2012, pp. Alamogordo Daily News, Apr 11, 2012.
- Nerbass, F B, et al. “High Sodium Intake Is Associated with Important Risk Factors in a Large Cohort of Chronic Kidney Disease Patients.” European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vol. 69, no. 7, 2015, pp. 786–90.
- Piecha, Grzegorz, et al. “High Salt Intake Causes Adverse Fetal Programming—Vascular Effects beyond Blood Pressure.” Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation, vol. 27, no. 9, 2012, pp. 3464–3476.
- Unknown. “Sodium.” What Is Sodium and How Much Can I Have IS TOO MUCH?, GB Healthwatch, 2018, www.gbhealthwatch.com/Nutrient-Sodium-Overview.php.
- Unknown. “What Is Heart Disease?, HHS, NIH, NHLBI.” National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Feb. 2017, www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/hearttruth/lower-risk/what-is-heart-disease.htm.
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