In recent years, from the World Health Organization to the dietary guidelines of various countries, low-salt diets have been advocated. So what is a low-salt diet? Table salt is composed of chlorine and sodium and is the main condiment for food cooking or processed food. The World Health Organization recommends that healthy adults consume no more than 6 grams of salt per person per day, and low-salt diets require no more than 3 grams of salt per person per day (or 15 ml of soy sauce). In addition to reducing the amount of salt in diet and cooking, foods with high salt content such as salted fish, bacon, salted eggs, fermented bean curd, and pickles should not be eaten.
Our country’s residents’ dietary guidelines also recommend that an adult consumes less than 6 grams of salt per day. The guide also specifically reminds that the 6 grams of salt includes the salt in soy sauce and pickled products, so it is actually more appropriate to consume 4 grams of salt a day. So, is it really better to eat less salt? Is a low-salt diet suitable for everyone?
A lot of exercise requires salt
On the one hand, a low-salt diet is indeed beneficial. But, do we really fully understand the low-salt diet? As long as the average daily salt intake is less than 6 grams, will there be no problem?
The answer is obviously not that simple.
First, a low-salt diet is not suitable for everyone. For example, some patients with low blood pressure. The patients I have seen often feel tired, dizzy, and nauseous. The physical examination did not find any problems, but the blood pressure was a little low. As long as the usual salt intake is slightly higher, the symptoms can be relieved.
There are also some groups that not only cannot adopt a low-salt diet, but need to consume more salt than the recommended amount. For example, children and adolescents who exercise a lot.
I saw a patient in the outpatient clinic last week, a boy who just took the college entrance examination. He said that he often feels dizzy recently, and his family is worried about whether there is a heart problem. Because this boy suffered from tachycardia before, he has already undergone ablation surgery and may relapse. I did a careful study based on the results of the consultation and examination, and found that the boy recovered well after the operation, with no heart problems. Then why does he often feel dizzy? After careful consultation, I learned that he loves playing basketball and plays basketball for two hours on the community basketball court almost every afternoon.
Like this boy, he exercises vigorously under high temperature, has a lot of activity, and sweats a lot. If he doesn’t add some salt in time to maintain electrolyte balance, he is prone to heat stroke. Once a person has heat stroke, dizziness will occur.
Therefore, people who often exercise and work at high temperatures need to take in more salt to avoid heat stroke.
Blood pressure is high or low, depending on sensitivity
Second, not everyone needs a low-salt diet to prevent high blood pressure.
Although studies have confirmed that increasing salt intake can cause blood pressure to rise, the magnitude of blood pressure rise will show individual differences, and different people have different sensitivity to salt.
In the case of taking the same amount of salt, some people’s blood pressure only rises a little, while some people’s blood pressure rises higher (there may be urinary sodium excretion disorders). Such people whose blood pressure rises after taking salt are medically called “salt sensitive persons”.
”Salt sensitive people” need to strictly control salt. Once too much salt, they are prone to high blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure, it will increase blood pressure. The principle should be that “salt-sensitive people” will find it difficult to remove too much salt from the urine. The excess salt absorbs water into the blood, increasing blood volume and increasing blood pressure.
The detection rate of “salt sensitive persons” varies by region and race. The Chinese not only eat a lot of salt, they are also very sensitive to salt. There are 20%-40% of “salt sensitive people” in the general population of our country. Among patients with essential hypertension, “salt sensitive” accounts for up to 60%. The proportion of “salt sensitive” among the elderly, obese people, diabetic patients, and metabolic syndrome patients is also higher, and the blood pressure of postmenopausal women will also increase their sensitivity to salt.
People who are not “salt sensitive” actually do not need to deliberately adhere to a low-salt diet. Of course, you can’t eat more without limit, after all, “a lot of salt must be lost”!
Too little salt, there is a problem
Many people only know that low-salt diet is the mainstream, but do not know that its standard and effect are still controversial in the academic circles. The Chicago Medical Center in the United States conducted a study on the low-salt diet of patients with heart failure and found that the mortality rate of the low-salt diet of patients with heart failure was 85% higher than that of the unrestricted diet. To be sure, a low-salt diet is not as low as possible.
I once received a mother-in-law with coronary heart disease in the clinic. The mother-in-law also suffers from high blood pressure. The community doctor repeatedly told her to stick to a low-salt diet. She checked the information on the Internet and found that eating too much salt does cause a lot of problems. Therefore, she pays special attention to her diet. She does not order takeaways and restaurants. The dishes she cooks every day are also very light, with almost no salt.
The mother-in-law can handle these eating habits, but her wife is embarrassed. My wife doesn’t know how to cook and can only eat with them. After a long time, I called dizziness, nausea, and fatigue every day. My mother-in-law and my wife came to see me for medical treatment. One complained that the other party was “abusive”, and the other said that the other party was “pretending to be strange.”
In fact, the uncle may not really be “pretending to be weird.” He is likely to suffer from low sodium syndrome, which manifests as dizziness, nausea, fatigue, and loss of appetite. The main component of table salt is sodium chloride, which can be decomposed into sodium ions and chloride ions in the human body, which play different roles. In particular, sodium ions are essential for our body to maintain the overall fluid balance, transport oxygen and nutrients, and maintain the electrical impulses of nerve cells.
Our body must take in a certain amount of salt every day to ensure sufficient sodium intake to maintain normal physiological functions in the body.
“Keep your mouth shut” when reducing salt
New research shows that my country is one of the countries with the highest salt intake in the world. The international authoritative medical journal “The Lancet” published a paper analyzing the top ten causes of death of Chinese residents in the past 30 years. Many people did not expect that the number one ranking is not cancer, but stroke. Hypertension is the first risk factor for stroke. “China Stroke Report 2019” shows that among stroke survivors, the most common risk factor is hypertension (63.0%-84.2%).
Chinese people are used to “heavy taste” and eat more salt for three meals a day, which can easily lead to high blood pressure. Not only that, but many studies have shown that among the top ten causes of death in China, several of them are related to how much salt they eat. In this view, it is really necessary to control the intake of salt.
Changing a bad lifestyle is an important factor in promoting health. Salt reduction should also start with “shut up”, eat less or no high-salt snacks, and be wary of “hidden salt”; you might as well put less salt and more vinegar when cooking. ;It is recommended to use a salt control spoon at home for quantitative consumption.
More importantly, stay away from “heavy tastes” and start with your baby. Human taste is gradually developed, parents should pay attention to cultivate children’s light taste from an early age. It is not recommended to add any condiments to the food supplement before 1 year old, and it is best to cook the food for children before 3 years old separately. In the nutrition label of prepackaged food, sodium is one of the five nutrients that are mandatory to label. When buying, pay attention to the sodium content in the food.
In any case, there is no doubt that the long-term high-salt diet will harm the body. It is still necessary for ordinary people to control the amount of salt in their daily lives.