This is Exactly What Happens to Your Body When You Consume Too Much Sodium from This is Exactly What Happens to Your Body When You Consume Too Much Sodium

This is Exactly What Happens to Your Body When You Consume Too Much Sodium

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This is Exactly What Happens to Your Body When You Consume Too Much Sodium

Salt gets a bad reputation because most people actually consume about 3,400 mg every day, according to the CDC, when the recommended daily amount is 2,300 mg.

But salt is important for proper body cell function, Deborah Malkoff-Cohen, registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator, says. “Sodium and potassium live in balance for the body,” she adds.

Sodium is essential for nerve cells to communicate well, prevent muscle cramps, regulate blood sugar and fluid balance, Malkoff adds. Until we get too much of it. Most people consume a lot of the former and not enough of the latter; hence, the problems.

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Your body holds extra water

Everybody knows that salt makes your thirsty. The body responds by retaining water which expands the extra cellular volume. As a result, you have about 1.5 liters (about 1.5 pints) of extra cellular fluid when you subject your organism to too much sodium. This continues as long as a higher salt intake is consumed, according to World Action on Salt & Health.  

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Your blood pressure rises

When extra salt is stored in the body, your blood pressure goes up, Malkoff says. The body holds more water, increasing the volume of blood, which leads to high blood pressure. This process occurs primarily in the kidneys.

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Blood vessels get damaged

More fluid means more blood going through veins and arteries which can weaken them, Malkoff says. They can stiffen, which can cause hypertension. The damage in the small arteries that connect to the kidney, for example, is worse because they are more delicate. A gradual narrowing may cause high blood pressure. Weak vessels can rupture, become clogged or leak causing a stroke.

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Heart is pumping harder

Having too much sodium in your body causes the heart to pump harder because it needs to get all that extra fluid out, Malkoff says. This can lead to congestive heart failure, which is when the heart's pumping power is weaker than usual. Extra fluid means more blood to pump, weakening the heart muscles.

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Edema

Swollen ankles are one of the major signs of high blood pressure, Malkoff says. More salt in the body means more water impacting the kidneys. Edema – when there is extra watery fluid in the cavities or tissues of the body – is a side effect. The swelling can also be in the hands, legs or feet.

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You lose calcium

High levels of sodium in your blood make you thirsty. Drinking more water means you’ll be going to the restroom more often. Every time you urinate, you lose calcium, Malkoff says. Not enough calcium can lead to kidney stones, inadequate bone density and osteoporosis, she adds.

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Impact on cognitive function

A study from 2010 suggested that too much sodium affects your cognitive function. Specifically, elders in the low sodium intake group displayed better cognitive performance over time.

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Eye problems

Salt leads to high blood pressure and, consequently, to vision problems as the eye blood vessels supplying blood to the retina get damaged, causing retinopathy. This condition can lead to blurred vision and even blindness, Malkoff says.   

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Higher risk of dementia

The sudden change from low or normal blood pressure to high because of consuming very salty foods causes a slight reduction in the amount of blood reaching the brain. Brain cells are not receiving enough oxygen and nutrients they need to function properly. Over time, it can lead to damage of the arteries, and eventually to (vascular) dementia.

This is Exactly What Happens to Your Body When You Consume Too Much Sodium