TT: Less salt for happier arteries, kidneys, bones, immune system, and, yes, brain

Mix salt with spices and aim for more flavorful dishes
Rather than relying on salt alone, consider mixing salt with spices and herbs and garlic in your favorite mortar
(Image by Bruno /Germany from Pixabay)

I was looking the other day into more ways to prevent kidney stones than a few herbal teas I was aware of (among them, the famous cherry-stem tea), and, of course, found mention of excessive salt as one of the culprits for urinary tract calculi. That is because salt causes calcium to be excreted in your urine—so if you eat a lot of salt and you’re also prone to kidney stones, you may find that your body is forming calcium deposits as a consequence of your salt intake and other factors. And remember that the same mechanism of calcium excretion may also lead to osteoporosis.

As a side note, some researchers say that true teas may help prevent kidney stones, while others point to their oxalate content and advise against drinking true teas, in particular black tea, which has the highest oxalate levels, if you are prone to kidney stones. Now that I mentioned this, note that not all kidney stones are calcium oxalate calculi. They can also be uric acid stones—created as a consequence of a high-protein diet, or other conditions, such as diabetes—and other types.

But there’s more than one or two dangers hidden in excessive consumption of salt. I will briefly discuss some of them below, as part of Today’s Tip.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical or health practitioner, and no part of This Blog, or the websites and products I mention and link to on This Blog, is intended as professional medical or health advice, and should not be considered as such. Consult with your doctor(s) about starting any course of treatment, taking any supplements, or changing any (dietary, exercise, etc.) routines. Note that natural supplements and even some foods may interfere with certain medications. Here are my Full Terms and Conditions.

Besides kidney stones, the biggie as regards excessive salt is that it leads to water retention, which increases blood volume and forces the arteries, and, in time, may cause them to harden and the body to develop high blood pressure (note that water retention is only one of the ways salt intake leads to hypertension). As most people know, high BP may cause heart disease and strokes. But what much fewer people pay attention to are two other ways excessive salt may impact the brain, besides affecting blood vessels as a result of high BP. In a nutshell, here’s what we know from studies on mice (here’s more about it):

1. Too much salt impairs an enzyme that produces nitric oxide. Nitric oxide helps relax blood vessels, which leads to better flow of blood to the brain. With an insufficient blood flow, cognitive functions will suffer.

2. Too much salt affects tau proteins in nerve cells, which may cause them to tangle together and deteriorate the communication between neurons, a process that may lead to Alzheimer’s or other dementias.

Unrelated as it may seem, high levels of salt can also help cause weight gain and insulin resistance, along with nonalcoholic fatty liver and metabolic syndrome.

Too much salt also affects the immune system, increasing the risk of autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis and lupus.

Here’s more about the damaging effects of excessive salt, and about ways to reduce your sodium intake. Spices and seasonings can help (I’m a big fan of lime juice and ginger), checking labels is always advisable, even in the case of bread, and learning to cook more flavorful foods with less salt can be quite a boon. Also, as so many health writers say, myself among them, your taste buds will definitely adjust. And I know that not only from my readings but also because I can map quite a voyage of discovery and change in my taste buds to match my experiments with different ingredients. I even got to really like kombucha!

So how much salt is too much in a day? The FDA recommends less than 2,300 mg of sodium per day for adults, and the National Health Service in England no more than 6 grams (about one teaspoon, they both say, but I guess it’s actually less for US teaspoons, which tend to be larger). The World Health Organization recommends less than 5 grams per day.

That said, keep in mind that salt—sodium chloride—is an essential compound for our bodies, and it’s important to have salt in our food (and not just for the taste). If we’re healthy, balance is key, and if there are already some imbalances in our bodies, it’s best to discuss with our doctor(s) to learn how to best manage salt in our diet.

Disclosure: This blog post contains some affiliate links, at no additional cost to you. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. I am also a Zazzle Associate and designer, and I earn commissions when you buy products through my referral links. All affiliate links on this blog are identified as such. Here’s my Full Disclosure.

ReaLime lime juice from concentrate, all natural
ReaLime, brand started in 1934,
100% lime juice from concentrate (affiliate image link)
Simply Organic ground ginger root
Ground ginger root from Simply Organic (affiliate image link)

If you already have prehypertension or stage 1 hypertension, the 30 foods presented on the reminder mug below may help lower your blood pressure levels. These foods are blueberries, broccoli, kiwis, ginger, peas, watermelon, spinach, and many others.

Thirty foods that may help with prehypertension or stage 1 high BP
(affiliate image link)

Here’s another blog post of mine, on Natural Ways That May Help Lower High Blood Pressure. Note that it’s directed at people with prehypertension (120–129 systolic pressure and less than 80 diastolic pressure) and stage 1 hypertension (130–139 systolic pressure or 80–89 diastolic pressure).

And here’s a salad containing several ingredients that may help fight high BP in its incipient stages (elevated BP and stage 1 BP): Sweet & Tango Spinach Apple Salad.

Thank you for visiting! If you found this post useful, please consider pinning/sharing it, so that others could find it faster.

To a healthier, happier life,

Mira

4 Comments

  1. Have not cooked with “automatic salt” in years. My husband’s BP is back to normal range since he works at home. Environmental issues add to nutrition, as well. Thanks for updating my knowledge!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Kathryn, for your comment. What do you mean by “automatic salt”? Are you referring to adding the usual salt quantities to various meals? I try to add a little salt but for the most part I go with various spice blends, sometimes more Mediterranean (onion, garlic, tomatoes, carrot, sweet and hot paprika, and then herbs such as basil and oregano), and on other occasions more exotic (lots of ginger and Thai red curry paste). They work wonders! Good to hear your husband’s BP is okay now! Even though it has its drawbacks, sometimes working from home is the better solution!

      Like

      1. I stopped salting while cooking in favor of allowing salt at the table – but started again after all the cooking gurus said to try it. Now I use it judiciously. I too, love herbs and spices, and grow them in the summertime. Thanks again for your words!

        Liked by 1 person

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