If You Consume More Than 5 Grams of Salt

Experts are as harsh on salt consumption as they are on sugar. Considering the researches, doctors underline that 3 times more salt is consumed than normal in Turkey and say, ‘Remove salt from your life’. So why is salt so threatening to health, how does it cause changes in your body? Here’s what you need to know about salt.

It is known that there is a strong relationship between hypertension, which is one of the common diseases in our country, and salt consumption. Pointing out that according to the research of the Turkish Association of Hypertension and Kidney Diseases, salt is consumed three times more than normal in Turkey, Prof. Nephrology Specialist from Yeditepe University Hospital  Internal Diseases Department. Dr. Gülçin Kantarcı says that salt consumption along with smoking is an important problem in terms of hypertension. prof. Dr. Gülçin Kantarcı answered our questions on the subject.

First of all, what functions does salt play in our body?

Table salt, which we have used for centuries to increase the storage time of foods, contains sodium and chlorine. These elements are used by our cells to perform various functions. Sodium, due to its water-retaining properties, is very important to keep the fluid volume in the body in balance. It is also an element required for transmission in our nerve cells.

So, what is the amount of salt our body needs to maintain the sodium balance you are talking about?

Although we do not add salt to foods under normal conditions, the natural salt content of foods meets our needs. In some cases, when there is a loss of salt from the kidneys through the urine, the salt content of the foods may be insufficient, but other than that, it is sufficient to consume the foods in their natural form without salt. There is no need to add extra salt. We often add salt to the meals afterwards to suit our taste buds. You have to give up on it.


What is the relationship between salt consumption and hypertension?

There is a strong correlation between salt intake and hypertension. The higher the salt intake, the higher the risk of hypertension. The fact that hypertension is more common in societies that consume more salt is proof of this. For example, according to a study conducted by the Turkish Hypertension and Kidney Diseases Association, three times more salt is consumed than normal in Turkey. The average daily salt consumption in our country is 18 grams, which is quite a high amount.


How is the situation in the West?

The average daily salt consumption in Western societies is 9-12 grams. In our country, the average amount of salt taken with bread is 7.2 grams per day. The difference is huge.



At what stage should we keep our relationship with salt in case of hypertension?

Salt restriction in hypertension of all levels will be beneficial as it will lower blood pressure. Restriction of salt can normalize blood pressure in mild hypertension. In severe hypertension, the amount of medication used can be reduced. The daily allowable amount of salt to prevent and treat hypertension is 5-6 grams.


What should we pay attention to the most in nutrition regarding salt consumption?

There is much more salt than we need in tomato paste, potato chips, instant soup, biscuits, cakes, sausages, pickles, olives, ready-made sauces, nuts, canned foods, as well as processed and frozen foods. All prepared foods are a hidden source of salt, even if they do not leave a salty taste on the palate.


Do genetic factors play a role in the relationship between hypertension and salt?

Some people with high blood pressure are more sensitive to salt intake. This may show a structural transition with genes from mother or father. In other words, some may be prone to high blood pressure due to their innate characteristics. On the other hand, as a result of some genetic differences in the salt-holding mechanism of the kidneys, earlier and more severe hypertension may develop in some individuals if environmental factors also support this. Such people should be more careful about the use of salt than normal people.


What should hypertension patients pay attention to other than salt consumption?

Excess weight is a major risk factor for high blood pressure. Therefore, it is important to choose low-fat foods and do sports. Smoking is also a risk factor for high blood pressure and should be avoided.


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