When we are stressed, powerful hormones are secreted to create the stress response which includes raising our blood pressure. Our bodies and minds try to regain homeostasis, to stabilize, so that bodily processes can function properly without the super charge. Like too much stress, too much salt can upset intracellular ion concentrations necessary for life. Did you know that the appetite for salt is increased when a person feels stress? This is why the level of salt consumption of a society is directly proportional to its stress triggers.
According to research published in the US Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health by JP Henry the blood pressure of cloistered Italian nuns on a high salt diet was normal for a span of twenty years while the blood pressure of women living in a nearby village with a similar salt intake, yet experiencing life stress, had significantly risen during this same period. In many physiological processes salt and stress synergize to cause damage not just to the cardiovascular system, but to kidneys, brain and the digestive system like ulcers caused by H Pylori bacteria.
Salt links to obesity
Finnish professors, Dr. Heikki Karppanen and Dr. Eero Mervaala, report that an average 35 % reduction in salt intake during 30 years in Finland was associated with a dramatic 75 % to 80 % decrease in both stroke and coronary heart disease mortality in the population under 65 years. During the same period the life expectancy of both male and female Finns increased by 6 to 7 years. An interesting finding of the study was the close link between salt intake and obesity. The study reports that eating more salt triggers a progressive increase in thirst, particularly for high caloric beverages like sweetened sodas, which, in turn, causes a marked increase in calories.
Cutting down on table salt is just a pinch of the problem – but a good beginning. Sodium abounds in processed and restaurant foods. This means the average consumer has to be vigilant about reading labels to identify salt by other names like: MSG, baking soda, baking powder, sodium nitrite or nitrate, disodium phosphate and disodium alginate.
The take home message:
* Manage your stressors, particularly the small, daily ones because stress triggers a craving for fatty, salty foods which could then trigger a craving for sweet sodas.
* Eat foods in their natural state – avoid processed foods.
* Avoid eating restaurant foods – there is “home” in homeostasis.
* Use herbs for seasoning. In a couple of weeks you won’t crave the salt and will enjoy the natural taste.
* Aim for balance in everything you do – be wary of too much of a good thing.