The major component of table salt is sodium, which is a naturally occurring mineral. Salt that is found in the home is actually the mineral compound, sodium chloride. Salt is widely used in cooking because it enhances the flavor. The majority of foods contain salt but the amount varies. Unfortunately, the majority of people eat way too much salt.
Why is there a need for salt by the body?
Sodium is an essential trace mineral that plays many vital roles in the body including the following:
- It is vital for nerve activity
- It plays a role in the contraction and relaxation of muscle
- Prevent the body from getting dehydrated by maintaining proper fluid balance
- Prevents the development of low blood pressure
Why is too much salt bad?
Although sodium is vital for many functions in the body, too much sodium can be harmful to people who have heart or kidney disease. People with kidney disease generally cannot excrete the excess sodium rapidly and this results in fluid accumulation. As the fluid accumulates, it results in high blood pressure. The excess fluid may appear around the ankles and lungs, causing shortness of breath. If the sodium is not restricted, the excess fluid can then cause heart failure.
How much salt should one eat?
The majority of people eat way too much salt in their diets. A healthy diet should not contain more than 2,300 mg of salt per day.
What is the benefit of lowering salt in the diet?
For individuals with kidney disease, a low salt diet has several benefits that include the following:
- A lesser amount of fluid retention
- Better control of blood pressure
- No need for more frequent dialysis
- Better overall health
How can I lower the intake of sodium in my diet?
The key for all individuals with kidney disease is to read labels. The majority of foods in stores contain sodium and all labels will state how much sodium is present. Individuals with kidney disease should go with foods that contain the lowest amount of salt. When reading labels, you want foods that contain less than 140 mg of salt per serving.
There are many herbs and spices that you can use to add flavor to your food instead of salt. If you have kidney disease, then a consultation with a dietitian is highly recommended. The dietitian can help make a diet plan for you that has low salt and even help you recognize foods with high and low salt.
Avoid salt substitutes as they are often high in potassium. When dining out, always ask for food to be prepared without salt. At the same time ask for sauce or gravy on the side as these condiments are rich in salt
Limit the intake of processed, canned and frozen foods.
Sodium and chronic kidney disease
Once an individual has been diagnosed with chronic kidney disease, the healthcare provider will regularly monitor the body weight, blood pressure, and encourage the limitation of salt in the diet.
If the individuals continue to consume salt, then blood pressure may rise and more protein excretes in the urine. This is not good.
For those with severe kidney disease, dialysis may be needed to remove this excess fluid. Further, limiting the sodium in the diet will also help prevent the muscle cramps that occur during hemodialysis
What is pink Himalayan salt?
There are some people who claim that pink Himalayan salt is much healthier than regular table salt; thus individuals with chronic kidney disease have started to use it.
Chemically, the pink Himalayan salt is similar to table salt and contains 98% sodium chloride. However, Himalayan salt also has traces of magnesium, potassium, and calcium which gives it the light pinkish hue. Besides, these minerals also impart a slightly more potent taste to Himalayan pink salt.
How is Himalayan pink salt used?
Himalayan pink salt is used in the same way as regular table salt. You can add it during the meal preparation to enhance flavor or add it at the end.
What are the benefits of Himalayan pink salt?
Himalayan salt contains up to 98% sodium chloride and only 2 percent is made of other trace minerals. Hence, its health benefits are few.
Plus, people with chronic kidney disease should not consume any amounts of Himalayan pink salt, the health benefits there are nonexistent.
Since Himalayan pink salt already contains 98% sodium chloride, the amount of salt intake per teaspoon is just slightly smaller. This still makes little difference and anyone with kidney disease should avoid sodium as much as possible.
However, it is important to understand that the majority of people get their intake of salt from prepared and processed foods and from adding extra salt during eating. Both Himalayan salt and table salt do not make up the bulk of the sodium content during a meal- the problem is that foods already have way too much salt in them.
The one major difference between table salt and Himalayan pink salt is that the former is often mixed with anti-caking agents and heavily refined to prevent clumping. On the other hand, Himalayan salt contains few artificial ingredients or additives.
For people who regularly use Himalayan salt, it is important to be aware that it contains less iodine than table salt; the latter is fortified with iodine. Iodine is vital for the function of the thyroid gland.
How much Himalayan salt should one ingest everyday?
While a normally healthy person should eat less than 2,300 mg of sodium per day, those with high blood pressure should limit the intake of sodium to 1,500 mg per day and those with chronic kidney disease should abstain from consuming any.
To simplify matters:
1/4 teaspoon salt = 575 mg sodium
1/2 teaspoon salt = 1,150 mg sodium
3/4 teaspoon salt = 1,725 mg sodium
1 teaspoon salt = 2,300 mg sodium
When people with chronic kidney disease eat too much salt, the kidneys are already malfunctioning and cannot remove enough sodium, this results in body fluid buildup, which then places extra stress on the heart and blood vessels. Sodium can also cause more protein in the urine.
At the moment, there is no good scientific data to show that pink Himalayan salt is more beneficial for health than regular salt in people with chronic kidney disease. While replacing regular table salt with Himalayan salt may just slightly lower the intake of sodium, it is still vital to avoid any salt consumption even Pink Himalayan because, in large amounts, it has the same adverse effects as table salt.