Regulate salt intake to keep your immune system strong
The pandemic has made us rethink our diet patterns. While maintaining a healthy diet, it is essential to limit salt intake to less than 5 grams per day
Not many people would know this but the most commonly used household salt; table salt is considered as white poison mainly because it is a ‘silent killer’. Just the way health experts suggest cutting down on sugar, they also advise reducing salt intake. Though salt is important for the human body as it contains an essential mineral ‘sodium’, which helps in fluid balance. One might think if salt is of such importance, why is it a poison? The answer to this raises another question, that is, how much is too much?
Yes, salt is necessary, but The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) recommends an intake of five grams per day and not more than that. And when it is fortified with minerals such as iodine, it prevents ‘Goitre’ which is quite prevalent around the world.
An average adult consumes more than twice the recommended intake. We may not realise it, but salt is an essential part of our daily diet and is added to almost every other food we eat. Processed foods, canned items, savoury snacks, chips, cheese, fast food, chutneys, papads, pickles, sauces, almost everything contains salt as preservatives. Some people even add additional salt to natural foods such as fruits, curd, yogurt, etc.
All this exceeds the intake of salt which can be detrimental to human health. Excessive salt accumulates in the body and creates sodium or fluid imbalance, causing bloating, water retention, swelling, etc. This ultimately leads to severe diseases such as oedema, hypertension, kidney stones, nephrosis, obesity, Type 2 diabetes etc.
To avoid severe health complications, it is better to reduce the salt intake which can be done by:
1) Incorporating herbs and spices such as onion powder, lemon, celery seeds, tamarind
powder, ginger powder, oregano, raw mango, that will enhance flavour the food and
ensure taste with low salt.
2) Adding the right amount of salt at the correct time, that is, at the end of cooking,
not in between.
3) Reading food labels for sodium content. Many baked goods which might not be
salty may be loaded with preservatives that contain salt.
4) Consuming naturally salty foods such as celery, eggs, beans, spinach, legumes, olives,
almonds etc are good for overall health.
5) Drinking plenty of water to prevent dehydration that increases cravings for salt.
6) Limiting the intake of additional salt added on top of foods or salty processed foods.
Taking all these measures would prevent any individual from a silent killer and improve the overall health and well-being of the person.
(The writer is a first year student from UPES School of Health Sciences)