According to a recent study, eating salty, processed foods may be doubling your stress levels. Find out how salt increases stress.
There is increasing evidence showing that consuming too much salt can have negative effects on your health. One recent study from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland suggests that high salt intake may even elevate stress hormone production. The study findings appear in Cardiovascular Research.
“We are what we eat, and understanding how high-salt food changes our mental health is an important step to improving well-being,” said Matthew Bailey, Ph.D., lead author of the study and professor of renal physiology at the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Cardiovascular Science. “We know that eating too much salt damages our heart, blood vessels, and kidneys. This study now tells us that high salt in our food also changes the way our brain handles stress.”
Salt Intake and Your Health
Even though the recommended daily intake of sodium is 2,300 milligrams (mg), Americans consume over 3,400 mg every day. “[When we eat too much salt, it] gets absorbed into our intestine and our blood […] It draws fluid into the blood vessels [and] increases the blood pressure against the blood vessel wall – and this is what we call high blood pressure,” said Evangeline Mantzioris, a dietitian and program director of nutrition and food sciences at the University of South Australia, who was not involved in the study.
According to the study, high salt consumption is linked to the activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which is the body’s stress response system. They concluded that the research shows “functional evidence of a novel, direct connection between dietary salt intake and HPA axis activation.” However, since the study focused on male mice, there is a limit when it comes to extending the findings to humans.
“In humans, the amount of the hormone that appears in the urine is higher in people that eat more salt, and this is true in women and men,” said Dr. Bailey. “There is also evidence that this stress system (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis) shows sex-different response[s] to stress. In females, the rapid response is often larger, and over time, females have a higher risk of developing some types of stress-related psychiatric disorders. My hypothesis is that the effect of salt would be larger in females.”
Minimizing Your Sodium
High salt consumption is associated with various physical conditions, including high blood pressure and now stress. Therefore, it’s important that you limit how much salt you’re consuming.
According to Mantzioris, the danger lies in the ultra-processed foods you consume. “Rather than being concerned about what you might add in the cooking or at the table, have a closer look at the amount of salt that’s in the processed foods you purchase,” said Mantzioris.
In addition to limiting your salt consumption, you can give your health an extra boost by taking supplements like L-arginine Plus. Its ingredients promote circulation, blood pressure, cholesterol, and overall heart health. If you’re ready to support your heart health and stress, then start limiting your salt consumption and take L-arginine Plus.