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Surprising Side Effects of Eating Too Much Salt, Says Science

Here's what can happen to your body right after you consume something that's high in sodium.

Sodium is an essential part of your diet. As an electrolyte, sodium is key for maintaining homeostasis in the body, which allows many bodily functions to operate smoothly and steadily. However, if you consume too much sodium, that can throw your body off balance and cause several immediate side effects.

The most recent USDA Dietary Guidelines recommend that adults consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium daily, which is equivalent to about one teaspoon of salt. However, the American Heart Association (AHA) suggests that most adults should reduce their intake to just 1,500 milligrams per day to keep blood pressure levels low.

Below, you'll see what can happen right after eating a sodium-rich meal as well as two long-term effects that could result from eating too much salt. Then, don't forget to sign up for our newsletter to stay on top of the latest health news.

1

You could retain water.

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Has your abdomen ever felt swollen after you ate something super salty, such as a bag of chips or a fast food meal? Trust us when we say you're not going crazy! It's natural for your body to bloat, or to feel puffy, after indulging in something that's rich in sodium.

This is because your kidneys will conserve any extra water you drink to compensate for any extra sodium you consumed in an effort to maintain a specific sodium-to-water ratio in your body. Outside of your belly, you may feel puffy in other areas of the body, such as in your hands and feet.

2

You may feel unusually thirsty.

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Speaking of consuming extra water, when you eat something that's packed to the brim in sodium, it can cause your mouth to feel dry and even increase the intensity of your thirst. The reason for this has to do with your body's need to maintain that very specific sodium-to-water ratio.

If you have a sore throat, you may experience dry mouth almost immediately after gargling with salt water for a few minutes.

3

Your blood pressure may slightly rise.

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If you eat a substantial amount of salty foods in one sitting, it's possible that you could experience a temporary rise in blood pressure levels. This is because foods that are high in sodium can cause a larger volume of blood to flow through your blood vessels and arteries. However, this fluctuation in levels doesn't occur in all people after eating a salt-laden meal.

Though, regular consumption of sodium-rich meals can lead to high blood pressure or hypertension, so make sure to keep your intake of the salty stuff in check!

Don't miss Dangerous Side Effects of Having High Blood Pressure.

4

Over time, it may increase your risk of heart disease.

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One possible long-term effect of consuming too much sodium is a heightened risk of heart disease. While the research is mixed, there is sufficient evidence to suggest that high salt intake causes blood pressure levels to rise and, therefore, lead to constricted blood vessels and arteries. As a result, this could lead to an increased risk of heart disease and even premature death.

For more, be sure to check out 5 New Facts About Heart Disease Prevention You Need to Know Right Now!

Cheyenne Buckingham
Cheyenne Buckingham is the news editor of <Eat This, Not That!, specializing in food and drink coverage, and breaking down the science behind the latest health studies and information. Read more