Health Facts for World Salt Awareness Week: How Salt is Good for You
Salt not only tastes good, it provides surprising benefits to your body. It’s not an exaggeration to say salt is an essential nutrient for human health, according to the latest medical research and practice.
(Vocus/PRWEB) March 24, 2011
Salt not only tastes good, it’s good for you. In fact, salt is essential to human health, according to the latest medical research and practice. What’s more, while salt reduction may be medically advised for some patients, recent studies suggest population-wide salt reduction efforts could lead to negative health consequences.
With World Salt Awareness Week March 21-28, the Salt Institute, the world’s foremost authority on salt, is highlighting the myriad health benefits of salt.
“Salt is a no-calorie health food that adds flavor to other health foods, like green vegetables,” said Lori Roman, president of the Salt Institute. “It’s not an exaggeration to say salt is an essential nutrient because without it we die. With it, we enjoy so many health benefits we can’t list them all.”
Whether it’s the saline solution used in a hospital emergency room or dietary therapy to treat or prevent health threats, medical experts have long recognized the important role of salt for life and good health.
Some of the most common health practices involving salt include:
Iodine Deficiency: Iodine Deficiency Disorders (IDD) are the major cause of preventable mental retardation. Fortifying salt with iodine is the most cost-effective solution to this global challenge. Iodine deficiency also can lead to hypothyroidism, infertility, thyroid cancer, goiter, poor cognition, lethargy, and decreased labor productivity in adults. Restricting salt intake could increase risk of iodine deficiency, particularly among women, according to a 2010 study published in the American Journal of Hypertension.
Oral Rehydration Therapy: Scientific studies have confirmed the importance of a balance of electrolytes: sodium, calcium, potassium and magnesium. After exercise it is necessary to replace not only the water lost through perspiration, but the electrolyte sodium. When diarrhea dehydrates the body, medical professionals use a combination of salt, sugar and water called oral rehydration therapy (ORT). The British Medical Journal called ORT potentially “the most important medical advance of [the 20th] century.”
Hyponatremia: When the body loses electrolytes, either from perspiration, diarrhea or over-rehydration with water, “water intoxication” or hyponatremia occurs. Severe hyponatremia is a medical emergency. Symptoms range from mild to severe and can include nausea, muscle cramps, disorientation, confusion, seizures, coma or death. To avoid this condition, medical authorities advise marathon runners and others prone to hyponatremia to consume extra salt. At athletic events, doctors tell athletes showing the first sign of symptoms to drink a sodium sports drink or eat salty foods.
Diabetes: Our bodies need salt to maintain healthy levels of insulin. Low-salt diets can impair insulin sensitivity, reducing the body’s ability to metabolize glucose and leading, potentially, to Type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. A recent study from Harvard Medical School links reduced salt intakes to an increase in insulin resistance, the condition that is a precursor to Type 2 Diabetes. Two other studies just out of Australia showed that individuals with type I or type II diabetes die in much greater numbers when placed on a salt restricted diet.
Elderly Falls: Because of declining renal function in the aging body, the kidneys retain less sodium. Changes in the intestinal function sometimes also lead to reduced absorption of many nutrients. These changes expose the elderly to an increased risk of hyponatremia. Recent studies have shown that elderly people with hyponatremia have more falls and broken hips and a decrease in cognitive abilities. As one Canadian cardiologist put it, “Spending your golden years in a retirement home with a low-salt diet will convert your last years to a long, chronic illness.”
On Monday, March 28, at 7 a.m., The Balancing Act on Lifetime Television will feature Salt Institute President Lori Roman and Morton Satin, SI’s vice president of science and research, to discuss how salt is good for you.
About the Salt Institute
The Salt Institute is a nonprofit trade association, based in Alexandria, Virginia, advocating responsible uses of salt (sodium chloride), particularly to ensure winter roadway safety, quality water and healthy nutrition. The Institute was founded in 1914 and consists of the world’s leading salt companies.
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