Salt and sugar are important nutrient sources for Nigerians, as they are for people all over the world. They are often added to meals to make them tastier, but their usefulness extends beyond the pleasant stimuli they deliver to our palettes.
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Sugar provides an instant energy boost to the human body, plus reserves we can run on when our work rate goes into overdrive. Salt contains sodium, which is necessary for maintaining blood plasma volumes, the body’s acid-base balance, and normal cell function.
But excess sugar and salt intake can cause problems too. Here are some of the negative effects of using a greater quantity of these ingredients than health professionals recommend.
The Effects Of Excessive Salt Use
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the maximum daily salt intake for adults should be 5 grams. That’s less than a teaspoon of salt. However, most people consume between 9 and 12 grams—twice the recommended amount.
The effects of excess salt consumption include:
- Dry mouth and intense thirst.
- Damage to arteries over time.
- Increased high blood pressure and risk of heart disease.
The WHO estimates that about 2.5 million deaths could be avoided each year if people around the world kept their salt consumption levels below the limit it recommends.
The Effects Of Excessive Sugar Use
These health problems can result from ingesting immoderate quantities of sugar:
- Poor dental health.
- Accelerated skin ageing.
- May cause acne.
- Unhealthy weight gain, and eventually, obesity.
The WHO says adults should consume no more than 10 teaspoons of sugar per day. Note that this covers sugars already added to foods like bread, drinks, and other processed consumables.
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How To Reduce Your Salt Intake
If you’re concerned that your meals contain too much salt, here’s how to get your salt consumption to healthy levels:
- Cut down on the amount of salt you add to food during the preparation process. If it’s possible, you might even consider not adding salt at this stage at all.
- Reduce your consumption of salty snacks.
- Check the labels of the packaged food items you purchase. You may want to limit the number of items labelled as ‘lightly salted’ or containing ‘light sodium’ or ‘sodium chloride’ (salt).
- Limit your consumption of foods like pizza, salty soups, tomato ketchup, or mayonnaise.
- Don’t eat out often. You can’t regulate the amount of salt that restaurants add to their meals.
If you accidentally add too much salt to your meal, here’s what you can do about it.
How To Reduce Your Sugar Intake
You may reduce your sugar intake by taking these steps:
- Cut down the amount of sugar you add to your food.
- Replace sugary soft drinks with water.
- Check food labels, and limit your purchase of foods with any of the following on their labels: brown sugar, cane sugar, invert sugar, glucose, maltose, malt syrup, honey, or fruit juice concentrate.
- Eat more fresh fruits instead of sugar.
Salt and sugar aren’t intrinsically bad. They can actually do you a lot of good if you use them moderately. The tips we’ve shared here should help you avoid the health troubles that may arise if you consume them to excess.
Featured Image Source: Everyday Health
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