Dr Kiel quickly reviews how salt/ sodium raises your blood pressure. This explanation is simplified as much as possible.
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I wanted to take a moment to talk about salt and it's effects on your body. Specifically, I wanted to talk about how it can raise your blood pressure. By better understanding the effects of salt on your blood pressure, you may be better able to manage that aspect of your health moving forward.
Before I get started, I want to mention that salt has many roles in the human body and I'm going to specifically focus on blood pressure in this lecture.
In a nutshell, sodium (or Na+), which I'll just refer to as salt ( NaCl) for now, helps your kidneys retain water. This serves a very essential function to our overall health and well being. The salt circulating in our bloodstream, and in the rest of our body, helps keep our circulatory system filled and allows the heart to do its job of delivering oxygen around the body.
It is the job of your kidneys to regulate the amount of salt in your circulatory system. If total salt goes up, your kidneys will filter more out. If total salt goes down, those filters will close and your body will try to retain salt. This affects your blood pressure directly because the water "follows" the salt if you will. It does this through a physical process called osmosis.
According to the American Heart Association, we require about 1500 mgs of salt per day. As Americans, we consume about 3,400 mg/day, more than twice what we need. Furthermore, 75% of the salt we consume comes from processed food and restaurant, and less than 25% from what we add ourselves. It's also worth noting that some people are more sensitive to salt intake than others. So if you have no heart or kidney problems, you're most likely able to filter out the excess salt. However, if you have heart or kidney issues, or you are particularly sensitive, then the excess salt can start causing problems and potentially damage some of your organ systems.
Salt has several names including sodium, Na, Na+, NaCl, KCl and low sodium. Unsalted, no salt added, sodium free are terms you should look for on a nutrition facts label. Elevated sodium levels are associated with heart disease, heart attack, myocardial infarction, CAD or coronary artery disease, embolisms and blood clots, brain disease, stroke, dementia, vascular disease, atherosclerosis, arteriosclerosis, arteriostenosis, kidney disease, kidney failure, osteoporosis, stomach cancer, kidney stones and headaches. Symptoms of too much salt include dehydration, bloating, puffiness, weight gain, increased thirst, and excessive thirst. There are many ways to lower, decrease salt intake. One example is DASH diet or dietary approaches to stop hypertension (high blood pressure).