Believe it or not, we’re officially in the middle of a global sodium crisis. A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found that there are an estimated 1.65 million deaths linked to high sodium consumption every year. That’s a lot! While death by sodium consumption is at the extreme end of the spectrum, there are tons of other harmful things that salt can do to your body.
Read on to find out why cutting back on your salt intake is so, so crucial.
1. It leaves you feeling bloated
When you consume too much salt, your body starts to retain water. This excess fluid can cause you to look and feel bloated since you have more liquid inside of you than usual.
2. Your blood pressure increases
A 2011 study from the British Medical Journal reported that a wide variety of other studies show a “consistent direct relationship between salt intake and blood pressure.” The study authors said that a 4.6 gram reduction in daily dietary intake of salt (that’s equal to about 1,840 milligrams of sodium) decreased individuals’ blood pressure across the board. In a nutshell, the more salt you eat, the higher your blood pressure will be.
3. Your risk of having a stroke increases
That same British Medical Journal study also found that high blood pressure may, in turn, lead to a greater stroke risk.
4. You crave more salty foods
Yes, it is true — your tastebuds acclimate to saltiness over a period of time. In turn, you’ll start to crave more salt.
5. Your kidneys take a knock
An increase in blood pressure can put mega strain on the arteries leading to the kidneys… which can ultimately lead to kidney failure. Think we’re joking? A 2013 study in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology found that patients with chronic kidney disease saw improved kidney function when they decreased their salt intake (high salt intake could be what lead to their kidney problems in the first place).
READ MORE: How Salt Savvy Are You?
6. Your brain functions take a hit
Thoughts a little foggy? A 2011 study published in the Neurobiology of Aging found that a high-salt diet and no exercise were linked to more cognitive decline in old age.
7. You’re a high-risk candidate for heart disease
A 2009 multi-university study from the British Medical Journal found that high sodium intake is directly linked to cardiovascular disease. And another study, published in July 2014 in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, found that having excess salt in your diet doubles the threat of cardiovascular disease for diabetics.
Looking for more? Here are six unexpected health and beauty benefits of epsom salts.