Frequently eating too much salt can affect your taste buds, causing foods with normal salt content to taste bland.
Salt not only preserves food but also adds flavor to it, which explains why many people eat more of it than they should. Perhaps, an even bigger factor involves the excessive amounts of salt we consume via processed foods.
While a high blood pressure reading is an obvious one, here are four other possible signs you should be cutting back on the salt:
1) Your food tastes bland
Some people might be born with a "salt tooth" but habit likely plays a bigger role in salt preference, according to experts. "We do develop a taste preference for salt," said Gazzaniga Moloo, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.
"It does have some properties that can make foods taste better. It can help neutralize foods' natural bitterness. That's oftentimes why sprinkling a little salt on vegetables for some people makes them taste better."
Going overboard with your consumption of salt can affect your taste buds. You may get used to the flavor and taste of meals with high salt content, causing foods with normal salt content to taste bland.
2) You feel bloated or swollen
Ever feel like you have suddenly gained a bit of weight? Consuming more sodium than usual may give you that impression due to the retention of fluid in the tissues of the body.
"Salt acts likes a magnet to water, causing you to retain fluids," said registered dietitian Bonnie Taub-Dix, founder of Better Than Dieting. This fluid retention effect can cause bloating or can explain why your eyes or your fingers have become puffy. Such signs are also more likely to occur during middle age.
"I know someone who, when she has a bowl of soup, needs to start taking her rings off because otherwise, she won't be able to get them off later," Taub-Dix added.
3) You have unexplained headaches
If you experience headaches now and then without any obvious triggers, try to observe if they occur after you consume a meal with relatively high salt content.
"Too much salt can cause blood vessels in the brain to expand, which can lead to painful headaches," explained Mandy Enright, a nutritionist and fitness trainer in New Jersey.
4) You are frequently urinating
"Nighttime urination is a real problem for many people, especially as they get older," said Dr. Matsuo Tomohiro from Nagasaki University in Japan.
In a 2017 study, Dr. Tomohiro found that eating too much salt may be causing excessive urination. For older adults in particular, this can cause interrupted sleep, tiredness, and irritability.
By cutting their salt intake by 25 percent, participants of the study found that their trips to the toilet in the middle of the night experienced a decrease. "This work holds out the possibility that a simple dietary modification might significantly improve the quality of life for many people," Dr. Tomohiro said.