30 Under 30 2020

Salt and stress tied to risk of hypertension

Listen from Dr. Dipak Sharma about the role of salt intake and stress in managing a healthy blood pressure

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Published: Jan 29, 2020 10:48:39 AM IST
Updated: Jan 29, 2020 11:50:16 AM IST

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Stress is a normal psychological and physical response to the day-to-day demands of life.  Human body reacts to stress by releasing hormones that increase the blood pressure by increasing your heartbeat and narrowing down your blood vessels, make the brain more alert, cause rapid breathing and tightening of the muscles. Acute stress, the short-term stress goes away quickly, and helps you manage a dangerous or exciting situation. However, chronic stress lasts for a longer period of time, may be weeks or months and makes the body stay alert, even in the absence of an acute cause. Over time, it builds up and exerts an adverse impact on health, and leads to problems associated with blood pressure, heart, immunity, mental health, etc.

Reacting to stress in unhealthy ways such as smoking, overeating or eating unhealthy food, drinking too much of alcohol, and social isolation can increase your risk of developing high blood pressure. Though long-term high blood pressure is associated with heart, blood vessels and kidney problems, frequent temporary spikes in blood pressure can harm your health in a similar way as long-term hypertension. It has been established that relieving stress can lower your blood pressure. In today’s fast-paced world it is important to master stress management as it can be a life-saver. It would help to develop healthy behavior changes that would positively impact your blood pressure and overall health.

Issued in Public Interest by USV PVT LTD 

Indians have been estimated to consume almost double the recommended intake of salt as evident from a study conducted by the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI). The estimated average salt consumption among Indians is approximately 11 grams per day which is almost double the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended upper intake limit of 5 grams per day. This predisposes Indians to a high risk of developing various cardiovascular disorders including hypertension or high blood pressure. Different kinds of chutneys, pickles, papads and snacks are innate to different states of India.

However, the high amount of salt used for preparation and seasoning of these food items is a matter of concern. Though low sodium salts such as rock salt, pink salt and black salt were native to India, and make a healthy option however, the gradual shift from these native forms to the modern refined table salt has added an unhealthy factor to the diet. The refined table salt is stripped of all the minerals is thus under-nutritious with the only benefit of Iodine that is added during its processing. Owing to its high sodium content, the table salt on intake expands the extracellular fluid volume and increases cardiac output. A high sodium intake also stresses the kidney by excreting more water and less toxic waste.

Substantial clinical evidence demonstrates positive effect of salt intake on the blood pressure. Opting for low salt and low sodium food options, limiting intake of canned and processed foods can help in significantly lowering down the sodium intake. Considering the health benefits to delay or prevent the incidence of hypertension in normotensive people, as well as positive impact on blood pressure lowering in hypertensive people, the efforts to restrict the salt intake is worthwhile and we should strive to achieve it.

Disclaimer: The views, suggestions and opinions expressed here are the sole responsibility of the experts. No Forbes India journalist was involved in the writing and production of this article.

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