Do you crave a glass of water immediately after eating a bag of chips, a bowl of popcorn, or a fistful of peanuts?
Your snack was clearly on the salty side, which is not necessarily a negative thing.
Pippa Hill, nutritionist and creator of The Weight Loss Guru asserts that salt is a dietary necessity and not a flavor enhancer.
Approximately 40% of table salt, also known as sodium chloride, is sodium, an essential nutrient.
Ms. Hill explains, “When consumed in small amounts, sodium facilitates the conduction of nerve impulses, muscle contraction, and relaxation, and helps maintain the balance of water and minerals.”
Salt deficiency can cause muscle spasms, nausea, fatigue, and dizziness.
However, consuming more than the 6g per day that the NHS recommends for adults, which is equivalent to about one teaspoon, can be harmful to your health.
“A high salt intake disrupts the body’s natural sodium balance,” explains Olivia Burley, registered associate nutritionist and NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme employee.
She explains that this can lead to hypertension: “Hypertension is a condition in which blood pressure remains elevated over time, which can increase the risk of heart and circulatory diseases.”
Unless you closely examine food labels, it is not always clear how much sodium you consume daily.
Ms. Hill cites tinned fish or poultry, breaded meats, salted nuts, canned legumes, cured meats, soup, and sandwiches as examples of high-sodium foods.
And simply because you have consumed enough water to satiate your thirst does not negate the effects of consuming too much salt.
Ms. Burley advises, “If you are experiencing any or all of these symptoms, it is always best to seek medical attention.”
Dehydration caused by excessive sodium consumption can result in severe headaches.
As the blood vessels expand, these migraines tend to be more painful than a mild headache, causing a throbbing sensation, according to Ms. Hill.
As sodium levels rise in the body, the symptoms typically manifest between one and two hours after eating.
They may develop more rapidly if you have high blood pressure or chronic migraines in general, but rehydration can often alleviate them.
As your water levels are unbalanced, you can reduce and eliminate the headache by consuming more water.
- swollen extremities and feet
The swelling of the fingers, ankles, or feet, also known as edema, can be a delayed reaction to a sodium surge.
Ms. Burley explains, “When too much salt is consumed, the body retains the excess sodium and increases the fluid outside of the cells.”
This results in decreased kidney function, decreased water removal, and an increase in blood pressure.
Long periods of sitting or travel may exacerbate the occurrence of swelling.
Ms. Hill explains, “This is not an immediate reaction after eating, but if in the next 24 hours after eating salty foods you notice swelling in these areas, there may be a connection.”
This could be a sign of a more severe health problem, so it’s best to seek medical attention if it’s a recurring issue.
- elevated blood pressure
Ms. Hill warns, “Salt is the leading cause of high blood pressure.” Within thirty minutes, excessive sodium consumption will affect the blood vessels.
If left untreated, high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, can increase the risk of significant complications such as heart attacks and strokes.
If, after consuming a salty diet, you experience blurred vision, chest pain such as a tight sensation, palpitations, shortness of breath, or sudden nosebleeds, you may have high blood pressure, according to Ms. Hill.
Ms. Burley adds, ‘Hypertension frequently has no symptoms, and the only method to determine your blood pressure is to have it measured by a machine.’
- Frequent urination
Ms. Burley explains, “Excessive thirst is a common reaction to eating salty foods and leads to an increase in fluid consumption, resulting in excessive urination.”
By sending the signal to consume a great deal of water, the body attempts to eliminate the superfluous salt buildup.
Although consuming more fluids in response to an increase in salt is one of the primary causes of increased urine production, it may also be a symptom of other conditions, such as polyuria, and therefore medical examinations are recommended.