Apparently Regularly Using Salt Can Lead To Kidney Damage

There has recently been a large study that has done the rounds suggesting that adding salt to meals can increase the risk of kidney damage. Whilst, it is worth mentioning that adding a bit here and there is not something to worry about, and of course it is actually necessary for bodily function it’s overuse could be an issue. The recent research from the UK looks specifically at the link between salt intake and chronic kidney disease. Which is characterized by progressive kidney damage.

The shocking fact is that the study shows that even people who add salt to their food occasionally could be at higher risk of kidney issues.

Now, it’s worth mentioning this is in the UK, where a lot of food products contain added salt (not that the US is any better), and most people in the UK eat too much salt according to reports from their health service. [1]

As such adding salt is of course going to be making the issue worse.

Although the study was of almost half a million people, it is worth noting that in general diets in the west contain a lot of pre made foods.

If you’re making things from scratch, you’re probably fine to add a bit of salt for taste etc. But of course it is important to make sure to watch your sodium intake in general.

Understanding Kidney Function and Sodium Balance

Our kidneys play a crucial role in maintaining the balance of sodium and potassium in our bodies. These two minerals in particular are essential for fluid regulation and blood pressure. When we eat too much sodium, this effects kidney function. And of course the kidneys are essential for removing waste from the body leading to further complications.

The Link Between Salt Intake and Kidney Disease

There have been quite a few studies that have previously shown that an excessively high salt diet can contribute to the development and progression of kidney disease. [2,3]

The new research however, does look a little bit more troubling.

The research conducted by Tulane University examined health data from the UK Biobank, involving over 465,000 participants without pre-existing kidney disease. [4]

The study found that individuals who added salt to their food, even occasionally, faced a higher risk of developing chronic kidney disease.

The risk increased in correlation with the frequency of salt consumption, with those who always added salt experiencing the highest risk.

But as we mentioned in the into, the average UK diet already contains too much salt, so adding it could simply be making a national issue worse. And this probably shouldn’t be read as never add salt to your food.

Risk Factors for Chronic Kidney Disease

While excessive salt consumption does increase the risk of kidney disease there are several other factors contribute to its development.

People with conditions such as diabetes and hypertension are particularly vulnerable, as these conditions put additional stress on the kidneys.

Salt Intake and Kidney Stones

In addition to kidney disease, excessive salt consumption has been associated with the formation of kidney stones.

Kidney stones are painful and can lead to complications if left untreated. A high salt diet can increase the amount of calcium excreted in the urine, contributing to the formation of these stones.

Strategies for Reducing Salt Intake

Reducing salt intake is an achievable goal with the right strategies and mindset. Here are some practical tips to help you lower your salt consumption:

Read food labels: Pay attention to sodium levels and choose lowsodium or sodium free options.

Opt for fresh foods: Whole, unprocessed foods are naturally lower in sodium compared to processed and packaged products.

Use herbs and spices: Enhance the flavor of your meals with fresh herbs and spices to reduce the need for added salt.

Limit processed meats: Cured, salted, and smoked meats are high in sodium and should be consumed sparingly.

Cook at home: Preparing meals at home allows you to have control over the amount of salt used in your dishes.

The Role of Public Health and Education

Public health initiatives play a crucial role in raising awareness about the detrimental effects of excessive salt intake on kidney health. Governments and health organizations should prioritize the promotion of healthy eating habits and provide resources to educate the general population about the risks associated with high salt consumption. By empowering individuals with knowledge and practical strategies, we can collectively work towards reducing the burden of kidney disease.

Do We Need To Worry About Salt Intake?

Yes, salt, though seemingly harmless, can have a profound impact on our kidney health. Although it is important to note that it’s not likely the simple fact of adding salt to meals occasionally that’s going to do you any harm. The study from Tulane University is on a population (the UK’s) that already on average consumes too much salt.

That said, it is worth paying attention to your salt intake, especially if you’re consuming pre packaged food.  

References

1 - https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/food-types/salt-in-your-diet/

2 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8030856/

3 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8222708/

4 - https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2813410

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