Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Misconceptions about salt

Experts tell Zeenia F Baria about the common misconceptions associated with salt

How much salt is too much? Are you among those who won't touch their meals without adding copious amounts of salt? Or do you belong to that category that vehemently refuses to add any salt at all to their diet? Too much salt intake and none at all are both equally harmful. According to Consultant Interventional Cardiologist Dr Vijay Surase, salt is considered by many as an essential part of the human diet. While awareness about the perils of excessive salt intake has increased — with supermarket shelves overflowing with food products, which contain less salt or no salt — the question remains, how important is salt restriction?

"Common salt is composed mainly of sodium and chlorine. Sodium chloride is critical for the maintenance of osmotic balance and other functions. It is true that salt can be dangerous for some people and it is also true that sodium chloride can be obtained from other foods. However, research indicates that approximately 80 per cent of the population will actually benefit from consumption of natural sea salt, which is less refined than common table salt and does not contain added aluminum compounds. Unless you're told specifically by a qualified specialist about limiting or stopping your salt intake, it should not be done so because it can cause terrible weakness, drowsiness, depression, convulsions, and even coma. Even hypertensive patients need not live with this fear about salt. Normal salt intake is fine but excess salt in your diet (consumption of French fries, pickles, papads, chaat masala etc should be avoided," says Dr Surase.

Interventional Cardiologist Dr Shantanu Deshpande says that salt is essential for maintaining homeostasis in our bodies. "The normal requirement is just 500 mg per day. Most Indian diets, however, exceed that limit. Normally excessive salt intake is excreted in the urine. But in almost 50 per cent of individuals, the kidneys are not able to handle this excess of sodium. Excess of salt in your blood stream retains more water resulting in a rise in blood volumes and blood pressure. It also results in hypertrophy of heart and blood vessel musculature resulting in permanent rise in blood pressure. These effects are more pronounced in the elderly and diabetics. Reducing salt intake in your diet reduces blood pressure. A low salt diet containing less than 5 gm of salt per day is recommended for high blood pressure patients who should avoid items like chutneys, cheese, processed food items and junk food.

Senior Interventional Cardiologist Dr Rajiv Bhagwat says that the importance of salt intake in regulation of blood pressure is well established. "Reduction of salt is one of the most important and effective life style modifications to reduce blood pressure. A 2 mm reduction in historic blood pressure reduces stroke mortality by 10 per cent and seven per cent reduction in mortality from coronary diseases. Besides reducing blood pressure, salt reduction also reduces Left Ventricular Sickness (Hyper Trophy), reduces protein loss in urine, reduces osteoporosis and bone mineral loss with age, protects against stomach cancer, asthma and possibly against cataracts as well. Increase your intake of potassium, which is found in plenty in fruits, legumes, nuts and vegetables. Their intake is an effective mean to reduce blood pressure."

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com

NOTE: You can consult Dr. Vijay Surase via online/tele consultation at http://easemyhealth.com/

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