Excess salt and sugar consumption can be fatal for our health as it increases the risk of heart disease, blood pressure, and stroke. Salt is essential for the body as it helps balance body fluids; however, excess salt can increase body fluids soaring, increasing the risk of chronic ailments.
NHS recommends that we should not consume salt more than six grams of and less than 70 grams of sugar per day. Additionally, NHS provides us with some tips to manage our consumption of both salt and sugar, some of which are highlighted below:
- Avoid adding extra salt to homemade food, and in place of that, you may add some heart-healthy herbs, enhancing the flavor of the food.
- It is good to buy fresh meat or fresh vegetables as against processed meat and vegetables as they have high salt
- It is better to use a low-calorie sweetener in your coffee and tea in place of sugar
- When you are bound with sugar cravings, chewing healthy and natural sugar items such as fruits are advisable
- Avoid drinking packed fruit juices as they have a high content of sugar
Furthermore, WHO recommends consuming a healthy diet throughout the lifetime to prevent malnutrition, being underweight & overweight, and obesity. A healthy diet helps prevent chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer.
However, a sedentary lifestyle has led to increased consumption of processed food and lack of physical activity, which has caused an increase in consumption of food high in fats and, artificial sugars, sodium and increased diseases worldwide. WHO emphasizes increasing the consumption of fiber-rich fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Limit Salt Intake
Salt intake is restricted to about less than 5 grams per day; this is because consuming too much salt increases the sodium level in the body, and a high salt consumption combined with insufficient potassium consumption contributes to high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.
Increased salt consumption puts pressure on our body to hold more water to dilute the sodium, which increases the amount of blood in the bloodstream, thereby adding more work for the heart and the blood vessels. This may cause our blood vessels to stiffen, leading to high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke.
Processed food, ready-to-eat meals, salty snacks, and cheeses contain an excess amount of salt globally. Additionally, adding salt to a cooked meal also increases the salt intake. However, people should be cautious about their salt consumption as it also increases the risk of chronic health problems and reduces calcium levels in our bodies, making our bones weak.
WHO recommends that salt consumption can be reduced by adopting the following methods:
- Adding less salt while cooking food
- Avoid adding additional salt to the cooked food
- Reduce the consumption of processed foods with the high salt percentage
- Consuming food and products with lower sodium content
- Increasing the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables to increase potassium content in the body
Limit Sugar Intake
It is vital to reduce the consumption of added sugar during the lifetime. Artificial sugar is found in foods and drinks such as glucose, galactose, fructose, sucrose or table sugar, syrups, fruit juices, and fruit juice concentrates. WHO recommends that adults should reduce the intake of artificial sugar to less than 10% of total energy intake. This is because any reduction in the consumption of added sugar provides ample health benefits, and an increase in the consumption of artificial sugar increases the risk of dental issues such as tooth decay, unhealthy weight gain, overweight, blood pressure, heart diseases, and obesity.
WHO emphasizes two crucial factors which may help in reducing sugar intake:
- Increase the consumption of fresh fruits and raw vegetables
- Reduce the consumption of foods and drinks containing excessive amounts of sugar, snacks, candies, and other products which have artificial sugar
Disclaimer: This blog has been written after performing in-depth secondary research related to the topic from various articles, blogs, and journals, which have expertise in writing for healthcare. We suggest you book an appointment with the doctor for any doubts related to a food diet, salt & sugar consumption.