Shake it off

Why a sodium-heavy diet is bad for your health

Let’s be clear: Sodium—you know, salt—is critical for basic body function, including regulating the balance of body fluids, but most Americans consume too much of it. U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend that most adults consume less than 1,500 milligrams of sodium a day. Based on population studies, diets with lots of processed, packaged and restaurant food with high salt content can increase your risk of hypertension. Here are some other risks associated with overusing the salt shaker:

Bone loss: High sodium intake increases the excretion of calcium in urine, which causes calcium to leach from bones.

Kidney failure: Salt contributes to hypertension and that, in turn, can cause kidney dysfunction and failure.

Stomach cancer: Some studies have linked too much salt to cancers of the stomach, colon and rectum, as well as stomach ulcers.