According to many medical institutions, too much salt is the culprit for much of the rise in cardiovascular problems, like high blood pressure (hypertension), in today’s society. Both the Food and Drug Administration and the American Heart Association recommend reducing your salt intake for better heart health, but new studies have begun to suggest that salt may not be worth all the fuss. Rather than prioritize reducing salt (and sodium) intake, some scientists would prefer more concentration on cutting back on sugar and avoiding a sedentary lifestyle.
First off, nothing is yet decided in this debate. While one side is clearly more established than the other, there is provocative evidence coming from both camps. It’s also important to remember that no matter how this plays out, excessive sodium in the diet is bad for you. The only things being argued are exactly how bad it might really be and what that means for a recommended intake.
A 2011 study in the American Journal of Hypertension, known as the Cochrane Review, garnered a lot of attention for reaching conclusions running contrary to widely held thinking. After reviewing a huge amount of data from numerous studies, the review found that reducing salt intake could lower blood pressure but did not improve mortality rates or reduce the incidence of cardiovascular disease.
A 2014 study drew similar conclusions. An analysis of data gathered from the PURE study, which examined over 100,000 people, found that mortality rates and the incidence of cardiovascular problems was highest with people eating lots of salt. Of primary interest, though, was the fact that the group with the lowest amount of salt in the diet had comparable percentages.
These results suggest that while eating lots of salt is bad, eating not very much salt can be detrimental to health as well. This is by no means a medical consensus on the topic, but it does point at the need for further study.
In fact, eating less salt/sodium can have a lot of other beneficial side effects. Most foods high in salt, predominantly processed foods, are high in other ingredients, like fructose, which can cause lots of problems in the body. This means cutting back on sodium can reduce the intake of a lot of other unhealthy ingredients at the same time.
While studies are already underway to understand what the optimal amount of sodium intake is, there are some easy steps you can take to be healthier in the meantime.
Make a stand, then take a walk: A sedentary lifestyle has been shown in multiple studies to be one of the worst things for your health. You’ve got to get out of that chair. Taking a brisk walk every day or even a 5-minute walk can have a positive effect on your health. Of course, partaking in a full exercise plan is the best (and is part of what Olumia Life is all about).
Watch more than your salt intake: This also applies to sugar, omega-6 fats and other unhealthy snacks. A meal plan and plenty of advice, which you can find in the Nutrition part of Olumia Life, can increase the convenience and chances of long-term success.
Sleep it off: Finally, sleep deprivation can also cause weight gain, cardiovascular problems, lower insulin efficiency and much more. Concentrate on getting about 7 to 9 hours each night and making up for lost sleep at night with naps whenever possible.
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