Facts of Salt and Sodium:
1.) Salt is eaten because of its taste – it is one of the basic tastes that our tongue can detect besides – Sweet, Sour, Bitter and Pungent (Chilli).
2.) Salt is basically Sodium Chloride (NaCl). Salt crystals are cubic in shape and normally look white. Salt in its natural form is available as Rock Salt or Halite. Salt is present in Sea Water is vast quantities – which contain 3.5 grams per 100 ml.
3.) Table Salt is a combination of Sodium and Chloride – weight wise it is 40% Sodium and 60% Chloride.
4.) One Teaspoonful Salt (little above 5 gms) have 2300 mg of Sodium. US government recommends and intake of 2300 mg Sodium per day whereas WHO recommends 2000 mg per day which is 5 gms of Salt. American Heart Association says 1500 mg Sodium is best for the heart.
Manufacturing of salt:
Salt available in the market can have three sources.
A. Drying of Sea Water: Sea Water, which has 3.5% Salt, is taken in shallow ponds and water is evaporated in the dry sun and the Salt is obtained. But it requires dry climate and rain fall can spoil the process. This process requires lots of human effort.
B. Salt Brine: Below the earth or below the ocean Salt deposits are dissolved in water and high concentration of Salt water is obtained. This water is then evaporated to create Salt. This method is cheap and has a high yield. This is becoming more common these days.
C. Rock salt: This is also called Halite. Such Salt is present under the earth and mined for use. This Salt contained lots of other minerals and impurities. These are probably ancient sea water which got dried up millions of years back.
Need of Salt/Sodium for our body:
1.) There are scientific studies which conclude that reducing the daily Salt intake to 5-6 grams per day decreases. Salt is an important part of the body fluids. It is responsible for maintaining our normal Blood Pressure. It is a major player in body’s electrolyte balance.
2.) There are scientific studies which conclude that reducing the daily Salt intake to 5-6 grams per day decreases. Sodium is an essential nutrient and body cannot produce it. It plays vital role in the regulation of body fluids that transports Oxygen and Nutrients. It creates osmotic pressure which helps in oxygen exchange in tissue level. It also helps in Acid-Base balance. It is a principle component of body’s internal environment – the Extra Cellular Fluid. It also helps in transmission of Nerve Impulses. It also helps in the transmission of signals in and out of brain. We cannot live without Sodium. Without Sodium our brain function will also be affected adversely.
Uses of Salt for Health Benefits:
Excess Salt intake is bad of health but Salt is also very essential for maintaining our body. Since we are talking about Salt – it is often used for good health and good purposes.
1.) Sodium Chloride (NaCl) is a common Intravenous Fluid called Saline. It is used to increase Blood Pressure in cases of Low Blood Pressure due to diarrhea and vomiting.
2.) For those who have low Blood Pressure are often recommended high Salt intake.
3.) Salt Solution (2-3%) in warm form is used as a gurgle in throat congestion cases. It reduces congestion of the throat mucous membrane.
4.) Salt Solution (Hypertonic Solution) is used in the Yogic treatment of Jalneti to reduce Congestion of Sinusitis and Headaches.
5.) Isotonic Sodium Chloride Solution (Salt Water 0.9%) is also used as an Eye wash and for dry eyes.
6.) Salt Water Bath is also commonly used in Naturopathy and Detoxification. For Dry Skin, Skin Infections Salt Water Bath of 30 minutes is often used in Spas.
7.) Salt inhalation is used in cases of Asthma, Bronchitis and Sinusitis.
8.) Salt Water application on the skin – in cases of Burns, Wounds, Insect Bites, Herpes, Open Wounds are often washed with 1% Salt sterilized solution.
9.) Salt is now often added in tooth pastes to improve dental and gum health.
10.) High amount of Salt is also used as a preservative as Bacteria cannot grow in very high Salt environment. Most pickles have high Salt and last for a long time.
Salt intake in India and Abroad:
1.) There are no reliable data existing in this regard. An ICMR survey in 13 states in 1986-88 shows an adult consumes 13.8 grams Salt per day. National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), Hyderabad – which used to recommend 10gm Salt intake per day in 2010 reduced the recommended level to 5-6 grams. Latest data shows that India’s Salt intake is 11 gms per day. According to few studies, added Salt is the main source of Salt intake in Indians – about 83-87%. Rest of the Salt comes from Meat, Fish, Dairy, Bread and Bakery, Fruits and Vegetables. In the high income group who eat more processed food the Salt intake in mainly from processed food while most of the low income group add Salt while preparing food. India has committed to reduce intake of Salt by 30% by 2025 to the World Health Organization.
2.) Urbanization in India is one of the causes of high Salt intake. When people shift to cities they have a proneness to eat in the restaurants, eat processed food. The home food goes on as it is. Ultimately the Salt intake increases.
3.) Generally many foods contain some Sodium inside them. Most of the processed foods add a good amount of Sodium during preparation.
4.) Most processed foods have Sodium but in the USA the highest source of Sodium in processed food comes from – Breads & Rolls; Pizza; Sandwiches; Processed Meat; Packaged Soups; Mexican foods like Burritos and Tacos.
5.) Processed food is responsible for 77% of Salt intake of US population as they eat lots of processed food like Cured Meat, Bread, Pizza, Poultry, Soup and Restaurant Foods. Most Americans end up eating 3400 mg of Sodium instead or recommended 2300 mg per day.