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Craving Salt: A vicious cycle, perhaps?

Posted Feb 23 2010 5:19am

There are very few people today who can get into soapbox mode, and yet craft so coherent a speech based on their personal observations and from accepted generalizations to create awareness in the guise of a ‘rant’. We’re talking about Dennis Miller here. Watching this guy’s monologues just makes me want to shut up and listen although my patience wears thin when people open their mouth to talk about subjects that they have nothing to offer.

However, it’s bizarre that his political leaning these days have swerved wildly toward the ‘right’, that are not necessarily for their ‘free thinking’ or as a matter of fact, any thinking at all.

But what does this have to with America’s insatiable need for salt in their food?

Nothing at all.

Yet I find it to be an interesting generalization that investigates unhealthy dietary trends in America, and seeks to find solutions to these issues with the zeal of a hypochondriac.

Does America’s food have a lot of salt?
And the answer to this question is barely one that can be answered by an opinion. However, there is enough evidence to support that Americans consume almost twice the amount of salt required for a daily basis.

According to Sonia Angell, director of the Cardiovascular Disease Prevention and Control Program at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Americans consume almost 3400 to 3500 mg of salt everyday, when the average requirement on a daily basis is about 1500 mg.

And where does all this salt come from? Not because of lousy cooks or from adding far too much salt in your food at the table but from pre-packaged food and restaurant meals.

Thus the initiative taken by New York City’s Health & Mental Hygiene department to advocate the reduction of salt levels in the food served at restaurants and food companies across the country.

Now that people are waking up, perhaps it's only logical to ask ourselves another question: Does this lead to salt craving?

And one finds enough evidence to substantiate that fact.  First of all, nature is known for its adaptive abilities, and so is our body as well.

Take for example, smoking. Once the habit has set in, the body develops a ‘need’ for nicotine which clearly indicates the body’s adaptive abilities to harmful intoxicants as well as its ability to maintain balance by accepting the intoxicants. Similarly, with the intake of higher-than-required amounts of salt in the body, the balance created requires the person to meet the now ‘corrected’ level of salt that the body has gotten used to on a daily basis. And since cooking is obsolete due to our apparent lack of time, our dependence on the aforementioned foods with high salt levels increases substantially. Like the crack addict who needs his fix…

It’s a vicious cycle that one has to make a serious effort to break. Since salt helps regulate the fluid content in our body, any increase in levels can throw the body’s dynamics into a state of flux. Unfortunately, since the body cannot eliminate the excess salt that is consumed, you run the risk of cardiovascular disease and strokes among a long list of other diseases if this trend of high-salt intake is maintained long-term.

However, unlike Dennis Miller, this rant will not end with the proverbial “This is only my opinion. I might be wrong” tagline, as this is really not about making judgments about topics that are subjective in nature but really about putting into perspective America’s unhealthy cravings for salt.

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