Even though most of us know that we should reduce SaltAustralians on average consume nearly twice the recommended daily maximum per day.
Salt draws moisture out of food, limiting bacterial growth that would otherwise spoil food and cause gastrointestinal diseases. Today, salt is still added as a preservative, but it also improves the flavor of food.
Salt is a chemical compound made up of sodium and chloride, and this is the main way we consume it in our diet. Of these two elements, it is sodium that we need to worry about.
So what does sodium do in our bodies?
The main concern with consuming too much sodium is the well-established link to increased risk of high blood pressure (or hypertension). High blood pressure is, in turn, a risk factor for heart disease and stroke, one of the leading causes of serious illness and death in Australia. High blood pressure is also a cause of kidney disease.
The exact processes that lead to high blood pressure of eating large amounts of sodium are not fully understood. However, we know that it is due to physiological changes that occur in the body to tightly control sodium and fluid levels in the body. This involves changes in the way the kidneys, heart, nervous system, and fluid-regulating hormones respond to increased sodium levels in our bodies.