WHO Warns Severe Health Risks From Excessive Salt Consumption

A cautionary message has been issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO) regarding the potential risks associated with consuming excessive amounts of salt. Highlighting the negative impact of salt consumption on human health, the WHO previously stated in a report that diets high in sodium can lead to raised blood pressure, which in turn increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases, gastric cancer, obesity, osteoporosis, Meniere’s disease, and kidney disease. The World Health Organisation has stated that consuming excessive amounts of sodium is linked to approximately 1.89 million deaths annually. 

Sodium, an essential element found in table salt, is vital for regulating fluid balance and facilitating nerve signal transmission within the body. Nevertheless, consuming too much sodium can result in elevated blood pressure, a significant contributor to the development of heart disease and stroke. The main process involves retaining water. Elevated sodium levels cause the body to hold onto water to maintain a proper balance of sodium in the blood. The increased blood flow within the blood vessels places additional strain on the walls of the arteries, resulting in an increase in blood pressure. In addition, the water that is held in the body can cause the blood vessel walls to expand, reducing their flexibility and increasing their resistance, which in turn leads to an elevation in blood pressure. In addition, excessive sodium intake can impact the functioning of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system, which plays a crucial role in maintaining blood pressure and fluid balance. Persistent high blood pressure can harm arteries, raising the chances of atherosclerosis, a condition characterised by the accumulation of fatty deposits that hinder blood circulation. As a result, the chance of experiencing heart attacks and strokes is increased. 

According to the World Health Organisation, it is recommended that adults consume less than 2000 mg/day of sodium, which is equivalent to less than 5 g/day of salt (just under a teaspoon). When it comes to children aged 2–15 years, adjusting the adult dose downward is recommended by WHO, considering their energy requirements. This recommendation for children fails to mention the importance of exclusive breastfeeding during the first six months and the continued breastfeeding while introducing complementary foods from 6 to 24 months (about 2 years). Did you know 5 grams of salt contain 2000 mg of sodium? It's quite interesting how these two are related! 

Consuming less salt (which contains sodium chloride) and processed foods (which contain sodium glutamate) is one way to lower sodium intake. Here are some recommendations from WHO: Avoid processed foods, use herbs and spices instead of salt, cook with less or no added sodium or salt, eat mostly fresh, minimally processed foods; cook with little to no added salt; use low-sodium products (less than 120 mg/100 g sodium); use commercial sauces, dressings, and instant products sparingly; and put away the saltshaker. 

To avoid adding salt, try using aromatic herbs and spices such as rosemary, basil, or thyme. For a tangy kick, try using citrus juices like lemon or lime. Vinegar, particularly apple cider vinegar or balsamic vinegar, enhances flavours in food. Onions bring a sweet touch, while garlic and ginger bring a savoury one. Make use of tomatoes or mushrooms, which are naturally abundant in umami. For a variety of tastes, try mixing spices like curry powder or chilli flakes. You may promote a healthier and more balanced diet by embracing fresh products and getting creative in the kitchen, which will help you use less salt. Putting these options first helps with health and variety in taste.