Salt has long been used as a preservative and seasoning to flavor food. It is about 40% sodium and 60% chloride, and nearly all unprocessed foods are low in sodium. Consuming salt helps with nerve impulses and balances the water and minerals you take in. However, most people are taking in more than our fair share of salt, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention saying that 90% of Americans consume too much salt. Below are some telltale signs that you might be guilty of this.
1. Trouble sleeping
Your quality of sleep may be subpar due to excess salt intake. A study published in Endocrine Abstracts revealed that more salt in one’s diet could cause later bedtimes, difficulty getting shut eye throughout the night, and perhaps even nightmares. One theory put forward to explain the connection between salt and trouble sleeping is that the frequent urination caused by excess salt leads to intermittent sleep disruptions that affect the quality of nighttime rest. Also, the fluid retention salt intake causes can make it discomforting to lie down at night, particularly for people with sleep apnea.
2. Swelling in strange places
Excessive salt intake can lead to swelling in various body parts, making you feel quite bloated in the morning. This bloating is edema, which is swelling due to excess fluid buildup in your body’s tissues. Your face, fingers, and ankles are the most common places that swell up when you eat too much salt. Mayo Clinic advises that edema can be a sign of an underlying condition like carcinoid syndrome, but it could also be simply due to too much sodium in your diet. Therefore, examine how much salt you eat if you feel puffy than normal. The most straightforward solution to this is to reduce your sodium intake by cooking your food to control salt levels. When shopping, you can also read food labels to pick out low-sodium options, so keep this in mind.
3. Frequent urination
You will likely be familiar with frequent urination if you drink a lot of water to enjoy various benefits ranging from better skin to digestive harmony. However, salt could be the culprit behind your frequent trips to the bathroom. For starters, salt can inspire you to drink too much water because it makes you quite thirsty, causing you to urinate more often than usual. This regular urination happens because your kidneys work overtime to eliminate excess salts. However, peeing too much may be due to other causes like diabetes, prostate problems, pregnancy, and an overactive bladder.
4. High blood pressure
Medical experts frequently link excessive salt consumption to high blood pressure. Therefore, it is prudent to watch your salt consumption if recent checkups indicate you have high blood pressure levels. The sodium in salts acts as a fluid magnet in your body, pulling excess water into the bloodstream if your salt intake is very high. The overabundance of fluid in your body will make your heart pump harder, damage your blood vessels over time, and cause blood clots that increase your risk for heart attacks and strokes. Consequently, consume more fiber, eat more homemade foods low in salt, and consume more fruits and vegetables to keep sodium intake low.
5. Excessive thirst
You have likely had your throat as dry as a bone after eating a bucket of salty popcorn at the movie theater. If you love French fries, chances are you always drink water or soda after eating a bunch. Thirst and salt go hand in hand because sodium assists in balancing fluid levels inside your body’s cells. Your body draws water away from your cells when you eat too much salt, causing you to feel quite thirsty. You will be drinking more water than usual to neutralize the salt levels and keep your entire system perfectly balanced.
6. Frequent headaches
The average person reportedly gets headaches once or twice a week, so anything more than this is a cause for concern. As stated early on, excess salt intake can wreak havoc on your body’s fluid balance, leading to dehydration. Salt causes your brain’s blood vessels to expand more than necessary, leading to the throbbing and annoying pain you may be feeling in your head. Fortunately, in collaboration with the University of Sydney and Oxford University, a study out of John Hopkins University discovered that limiting sodium intake to below 2,300 mg daily and increasing your fruit, low-fat dairy, and vegetable intake could significantly lower the frequency of your headaches.