The Role of Salt in the Body
Sodium - better known as salt - maintains the correct balance of certain fluids which bathe the cells in our bodies - essential for nerve and muscle function. However, research shows that too much salt can lead to increased blood pressure, osteoporosis - a bone-thinning disease, asthma, stomach cancer and weight gain.
Effect of Too Much Salt in the Kidneys
Any unwanted fluids in the body is removed via the kidneys. The kidneys suck out the extra fluid as urine stored in the bladder. For the kidneys to do this however, osmosis takes place to draw out water from the blood. Osmosis uses a balance of sodium and potassium to acquire water across a wall of cells from the bloodstream into a collecting channel in which the bladder connects to. Eating salt or consuming too much salt wrecks the delicate balance as it increases the amount of sodium in the body which in turn, reduces the capability of the kidneys to remove the water. The result? a higher blood pressure due to the extra fluid and and extra strain on the blood vessels leading to the kidneys which leads to kidney disease. This reduces their ability to filter out unwanted and toxic waste products, which then start to build up in the body. If kidney disease is left untreated and the blood pressure isn't lowered, the damage can lead to kidney failure. This is when the kidneys are no longer able to be filter the blood and the body slowly becomes poisoned by its own toxic waste products. If you have high blood pressure and are being treated with a diuretic medication, this makes the kidneys remove more fluid from the bloodstream because the sodium in salt counteracts this effect, reducing your salt intake will make your blood pressure medicine more effective.
Salt and Osteoporosis
High consumption in salt increases calcium losses in the urine (calciuria), some of which will be directly from the bones. One study show that for each 100mmol increase in salt intake, urinary Ca is increased by 1.4mmol. If this loss is assumed to be from the bone, then this equates to approximately 1% extra bone loss each year. Over extended periods, this would lead to the brittleness of the bones and ultimately osteoporosis.
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