There was a time when people fought wars over control of salt resources. Those things are no longer relevant, as industrial production of salt has made it easily available. Prices have also come down considerably. The white stuff that we use every day is essentially sodium chloride. Most of it is derived from sea water post evaporation.
Considering our current range of food items, it’s difficult to imagine living without salt. It brings up the question as to how do animals survive without salt. It also makes us wonder if we really need salt or is it just a way to make food taste better. And what will happen if you stop eating salt altogether? To answer such questions, here are some important things we need to know.
Sodium and body functions
As a mineral, sodium plays an important role in our body. It is used for maintaining fluid balance, working of muscle fibers including those of heart and blood vessels, and transmitting nerve impulses. Due to these reasons, it’s apparent that we cannot live for long if we stop eating salt completely.
However, that’s not the end of the argument. What many of us do not know is that the human body needs very little amount of sodium to carry out the necessary functions. As per estimates, an individual in normal circumstances can easily live on just 200-500 mg of sodium per day. This has been seen in some Amazonian tribal people who derive most of their salt requirements from natural food items. Most of these have very little salt content. But even then, it’s enough to meet the requirements of human body.
If we compare that to the diet of an average American, daily salt consumption is quite high at 3,400 mg. In some parts of Japan, daily salt intake is much higher at around 26,000 mg. This is equivalent to around 11 teaspoons of salt.
Why you need to reduce salt intake?
Different people react differently to salt in their diet. While some people have no effect even with high quantities of salt, there are the ones who experience things like high blood pressure and increased heart rate due to high salt diet. For the latter group, doctors usually recommend to reduce salt intake. It becomes even more necessary if the individual has heart disease or kidney problems.
Various studies have shown that reducing salt intake can reduce the risk of heart disease by 20%. The risk of stroke goes down by 35%. Moderate level of sodium intake is quantified at around 2,300 mg per day. For those with health risks, cutting down to 1,100 mg per day could be beneficial.