Salt is one of the oldest condiments that exists in our civilization and that is very present in our day to day. It is used in industry and on the roads, but mainly, it stands out for its use in food, specifically as a seasoning to flavor food, salty, and as a preservative for foods such as meat, fish, and vegetables…
Taking into account the treatment and purity, many types of salt are differentiated, such as sea salt, spring salt, rock salt, Himalayan salt, vegetable salt, table salt, and iodized salt… These last two are the most common and most used in our society and although almost all are composed of 90% chlorine and sodium, there are great differences in the remaining 10%. Some have natural components such as calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron… and others, chemical compounds that can be toxic to health.
BENEFICIAL EFFECTS AND NEGATIVE EFFECTS OF SALT
As we have commented previously, depending on the type of salt, each one provides us with different properties in the greater or lesser quantity that affect our health, as long as we take into account the amount of intake. Table salt or common salt is rich in sodium and this mineral helps the proper functioning of the human body since it is responsible for controlling blood pressure and blood volume. This is vital for the proper functioning of the muscles and nerves.
As for sport, it plays a very important role. When we do physical exercise, we lose mineral salts from our body and it is vital to ingest them to recover the losses and maintain the proper functioning of the body. Sodium is an important electrolyte in the fluid found outside the cells and in the plasma, intervening in the maintenance of fluid balance and the control of blood pressure. On the other hand, by joining other electrolytes, it sends nerve impulses, favoring muscle contraction. Also, it is part of the sodium bicarbonate compound, helping to maintain the acid-base balance. Apart from having these benefits, it is vital to eat when we are exercising, especially to rehydrate and continue with the task as normal. For this, it is very important to add sodium to intra-workout drinks, since it has many functions:
- Helps replenish sweat losses.
- Maintains the desire to drink water (rehydration).
- Helps restore fluid balance within the body.
- Helps prevent muscle cramps.
- Helps prevent hyponatremia (decreased sodium levels in the blood.
In addition to its use in sports, it is also used for domestic use; salts containing the mineral iodine are used to prevent hypothyroidism, and fluoride is against cavities.
Leaving aside the benefits, we have to take into account the negative effects that excessive consumption of salt can cause. Currently, consumption is very high, since there are studies that show that 8 to 9.8 grams are consumed daily, almost doubling the recommended daily intake, which is 3.75-5 grams in adults and 1.5 grams in people with hypertension.
This excessive consumption leads to an overload of regulation in our bodies, causing structural and functional alterations. These alterations can cause very harmful effects on our health, such as:
- Increased blood pressure (hypertension).
- Kidney damage.
- Gastric cancer.
- Stiffness of the heart, veins, and arteries.
- Bone demineralization.
- digestive disorders
Finally, it is important to emphasize that all the previously mentioned effects must be taken into account and that the foods that are chosen and the amounts of salt that are used should be controlled. In this way, negative effects on our health can be avoided. Processed and ultra-processed foods are the ones with the highest amount of salt and we should limit their consumption, choosing more natural foods. And as for the type of salt, we should choose the purest and the most complete in minerals.