Added salt is probably one of the major sources of sodium in your diet.

The Disadvantages of Sodium

by Melodie Anne

You need some sodium in your body; after all, it is a type of mineral found in nearly any type of food -- natural or processed. Sodium maintains just the right amount of fluid in your body, makes muscles contract and relax and even transmits nerve impulses so your heart can beat. But when you get a lot of sodium in your diet, it causes a slew of problems all throughout your body.

1. Fluid Retention

You’ve surely noticed that annoying puffy feeling after eating a salty snack or meal. That’s the excess sodium kicking in. When you consume a lot of sodium, the fluids in your body go off kilter when the normal balance of fluid in and around cells shifts. Usually, extra fluid gets filtered out by your kidneys. When you retain water though, a condition known as edema, some of the swelled up vessels in your body dump fluid into tissues. As a result, your pants will probably feel a bit tighter with all the extra fluid hanging around.

2. High Blood Pressure

One of the most well-known disadvantages of sodium is its ability to raise your blood pressure. Every time your heart beats, it creates a force that pushes blood through vessels, veins and arteries. This force puts pressure up against arterial walls, which is known as your blood pressure. Because sodium makes you retain water, your heart has to work even harder just to pass blood along through engorged tissues. The extra force from your heart muscle increases the pressure against arterial walls and wears your heart down with time.

3. Problems with Arteries

As your blood pressure spikes from a surge of dietary sodium, cholesterol is more likely to collect along the insides of your arteries. This problem, called atherosclerosis, narrows and stiffens your arteries, making your heart’s job just a bit harder. You’ll have a high risk of blood clots and ruptures in vessels. With all of the damage to your capillaries and arteries, your vital organs might not get all of the oxygen they need to function.

4. Kidney Disease

Your kidneys rely heavily on a steady supply of oxygen from your bloodstream to do their job and remove waste. But if you have so much sodium in your system that it’s affecting your blood flow, tissues in your kidneys become damaged. They start deteriorating, unable to get rid of toxic buildup. Eventually, the loss of kidney tissue could lead to kidney disease and ultimately complete kidney failure.

Photo Credits

  • Visage/Stockbyte/Getty Images