It is common knowledge that excessive salt consumption is the trigger factor for high blood pressure which can develop into heart disease and stroke. But why are there still many people who consume too much salt. Is this really the result of being addicted or being hooked on salt?
How much salt does the body need?
Salt or sodium is needed by the body to maintain water balance, accelerate the path of nerve impulses, and muscle movement. In general, we only need 500 mg of salt per day in normal activities.
In Indonesia alone, the salt consumption limit as recommended by the Ministry of Health is 2000 mg /day or about one teaspoon, while the American Heart Association recommendations for American society are around 2300 mg /day. Consumption of salt is said to be excessive when it exceeds these two limits, as in America, in 2011, the average salt consumption reached 3436 mg /day.
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Why can someone be addicted to salt and consume too much?
In general, excessive salt consumption is not based on body needs, but is a desire to consume salty foods. A person can be addicted to salt due to several reasons, including:
1. Effect of salt on the brain
Salt triggers the release of dopamine hormones such as the effects of sweet foods, nicotine, or alcoholic beverages. This effect is also not only caused by salt, but also from processed foods and preserved ones, so that the more consumption of these types of foods will make the addictive effect stronger.
2. Salty food eating habits
Most people think saltiness is the best taste, and this is caused by eating habits. Salt itself plays a role in changing the taste of food by reducing the bitter taste produced from food. In addition, individuals who are already accustomed to eating salty foods will find it difficult regardless of salt consumption because it will reduce the ability to enjoy foods without saltiness.
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3. Inborn condition
Wanting saltiness is one of the body's responses to meeting salt needs and this can happen when a person is not born. One study (as reported by CNN) shows a history of morning sickness in pregnant women will increase the tendency of children to eat salty food at birth. The condition of frequent vomiting during pregnancy will reduce the salt content of pregnant women and their fetuses so that children born have less sodium levels.
Genetic factors have a role in how a person behaves, one of which is consumption behavior. One study (reported by LiveScience) by analyzing DNA showed that individuals with TASR48 genetic variation tended to consume salt twice the recommended limit, or reach around 4000 mg of salt per day. Even so, individuals still have the same risk of experiencing high blood pressure from consuming salty foods.
5. Psychiatric conditions
A person's eating behavior is also closely related to a person's mood or personality. Salted food is usually in the form of chips, fast food, processed foods in packs or sauces. This type of food is also a food that is often eaten when someone experiences stress or conditions of desire to eat because of certain emotions.
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Health effects due to too much salt consumption
Consumption of excess salt due to you experiencing salt addiction is also dangerous for health, and can have the potential to cause several impacts, including:
- Gastric wall irritation - excessive salt consumption can cause damage to the stomach wall slowly. But it will get worse if there is an infection of pylori bacteria that can be inflamed and potentially increase the risk of gastric cancer.
- Overweight - excess salt can interfere with fat metabolism so that the body stores more fat. Some types of salty foods such as packaged foods and fast food are usually also high in calories derived from carbohydrates and fats.
- Sleep apnea - is a sleep disorder caused by high blood pressure. Reduced quality can also increase blood pressure and this goes on like a cycle that triggers hypertension.
- Osteoporosis - sodium levels in the body that are too high will trigger a loss of calcium which can affect bone calcification. This is easier for adults and the elderly, especially in menopausal women.
- Complications of high blood pressure - conditions of hypertension and uncontrolled blood pressure due to diet are the main causes of various other diseases such as diabetes, dementia and damage and even kidney failure.