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Know How Much Salt To Take In High Blood Pressure

Dr. Indrajeet Tyagi and Dr. Iranna Hirapur

Know How Much Salt To Take In High Blood Pressure
by Dr. Indrajeet Tyagi and Dr. Iranna Hirapur

It is necessary to understand the relationship between high blood pressure and salt intake. Every person with high blood pressure is aware of the fact that he/she has to reduce or totally avoid salt intake and always worried about how he/she can consume food without salt that does not taste good at all. The human body needs a very small amount of salt from the diet to maintain fluid balance and cellular homeostasis. Our ancestors ate salt below 0.5 g/day and that was naturally found in foods. At the present time, even with refrigeration technologies, salt intake averages ≈10 g/day in most countries, representing a >20 times increase in the evolutionary timescale. Its repercussions on our health are multiple, as human body is not able to excrete the large amounts of salt. Eating too much salt is the single biggest cause of high blood pressure because salt is often hidden in the foods and snacks we buy, and it is hard to know how much you are eating or how to cut back. The immediate symptoms of eating too much salt include increased thirst, swollen feet or hands, headache (in some cases), rise in blood pressure. We can try to find out.

How does salt raise your blood pressure?

Salt makes your body hold onto water. If you eat too much salt, then there is extra water in your blood. That means there is extra pressure on your blood vessel walls, which results in raising your blood pressure. If you already have high blood pressure, too much salt intake will raise it further, and the blood pressure medicines that you are taking do not work the way they should. Cutting down on salt is one of the simplest ways to lower your blood pressure within few weeks. Eating too much salt generally can lead to various health problems such as high blood pressure that in turn causes heart disease, all-cause mortality, and other conditions such as stroke, kidney disease, stomach cancer, osteoporosis and some types of dementia. 

What is the difference between Salt and Sodium?

The terms salt and sodium (1 g sodium = 2.5 g salt) are often used interchangeably. However, on a weight basis, salt comprises 40% sodium and 60% chloride. Salt is the major source of sodium in the diet (≈90%). The term “sodium” is usually used in the scientific publications and on food labels in USA and Canada, whereas the term “salt” is used in most other countries. Salt contains sodium which is a nutrient that is key to many cellular functions.

How much salt should I eat a day with high blood pressure?

The American Heart Association recommends 2,300 milligrams (mg)/1 teaspoon salt a day as upper limit and an ideal limit of no more than 1,500 mg per day for most adults, especially for those with high blood pressure and even around 1,000 mg or less a day can improve blood pressure and heart health. Although reducing sodium with a low-sodium-diet is a priority but some sodium is necessary for health. Too little sodium can trigger a hormonal response from the renin-angiotensin system that regulates blood pressure and actually increase blood pressure. Additionally, very low sodium is also associated with higher blood fats called lipids, which is another risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

What are the two types of high blood pressure patients?

There is considerable evidence that blood pressure responses to dietary salt intake vary among individuals with hypertension.

1) Salt sensitive high blood pressure patients: Some people can effectively excrete high dietary salt intake without an increase in arterial BP are called "salt sensitive," They should cut down salt intake to control their blood pressure, because salt sensitive hypertension is associated with an enhanced risk of cardiovascular and renal morbidity. The research reveals that a gene defect causes a sodium transporter called NBCe2 to bring too much sodium filtered in the kidney back into the body when you consume a high salt meal.  Along with genetic background, age, race, gender and medical history, cause the kidney of salt-sensitive individuals to handle excess sodium less efficiently. Asian and African ancestry, older age, female gender, high blood pressure, and kidney disease are all associated with salt-sensitivity.

2) Salt insensitive high blood pressure patients: Others cannot excrete effectively without an increase in arterial BP are called "salt insensitive". Still these patients can reduce salt intake in order to avoid further cardiovascular issue.

How do you know if your blood pressure is sensitive to salt?

Usually, salt sensitivity is arbitrarily defined and best determined by measuring the blood pressure response to a chronic change in oral salt intake, that is iincrease in blood pressure of 10% or greater during a high salt diet than that during a low salt diet.  In Ayurveda also, food is evaluated on one's body type (or dosha). While one body type may do better with a certain type of taste or food, total elimination of the food is never advocated. 

We can use a formula to find our whether you are a salt-sensitive or salt-insensitive high blood pressure patient. Check your blood pressure every day for 3 days by eating more salt and record your blood pressure readings. Repeat the same process for three more days by eating normal level salt and without eating any salt. You can do this experiment for two to three times for each type of salt consumption level. If your readings show constantly higher numbers, then you are a salt-sensitive person. So, keep consuming less salt for the rest of your life.

What is the best salt for high blood pressure patients?

Half Salt is a salt and potassium chloride blend that contains 50% less sodium than regular salt. It cooks, bakes, flavors and measures the same as regular salt, so it can be used just like regular salt with the same great results. Many studies have shown the direct relationship between high sodium and hypertension and the inverse relationship between high potassium and hypertension. So use: 1) Saffola Salt Plus and Dabur LoNa (Low-Na or low sodiumhave less sodium making it an healthier alternative to regular table salt. Eat foods rich in potassium include dried fruits (raisins, apricots), lentils, beans, potatoes, spinach, broccoli, avocados and bananas.

According to Ayurveda also people with hypertension should reduce or avoid salt, fatty and fried foods, or hot-spicy food - all of which are known to aggravate the condition because salt balances Vata and can imbalance Pitta and Kapha when used excessively, causing the pathogenesis of hypertension, premature wrinkles, thirst, skin problems and weakness. In the life style treatments, you can do walking, yoga, meditation, drink lots of water, have enough sleep, balanced and alkaline diet, , reduce weight, quit smoking, avoid stress, consume lots of fruits and vegetables that rich in fiber and vitamins, cut fat intake in your diet.

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