Sodium is a very important mineral for our health. It is needed or blood regulation and its absence can cause serious problems of bodily function.
As an electrolyte, it regulates the bodily fluids and transmits electrical impulses in the body.
Its health benefits include regulating fluid levels in the body, maintaining normal heat function of the body, improving brain function, relieving muscle cramps, controlling glucose absorption, and maintaining acid-base balance in the body.
However, too much salt intake can cause various diseases. As sodium accumulates, the body holds onto water to dilute the sodium.
This increases both the amount of fluid surrounding cells and the volume of blood in the bloodstream. Increased blood volume means more work for the heart and more pressure on blood vessels.
Over time, the extra work and pressure can stiffen blood vessels, and cause cardiovascular diseases, like high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and kidney problems.
In a recent study, researchers found that too much sodium intake is also linked to higher risk of developing both type 2 diabetes and latent autoimmune diabetes in adults.
Previous research has found that too much salt intake in daily diet can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, mainly because of a direct effect on insulin resistance and high blood pressure as well as weight gain.
The latent autoimmune diabetes in adults is a kind of type 1 diabetes. In this disease, the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas are destroyed by the body’s own immune system.
This disease can take several years to develop and may be mistakenly diagnosed as type 2 diabetes.
In the study, researchers used data from a Swedish population-based study of risk factors for both diseases.
They compared the 355 adults with the latent autoimmune diabetes and 1136 adults with type 2 diabetes with a matched group of 1379 healthy adults.
They used a food questionnaire to calculate the daily consumption of calories, nutrients, and sodium. Factors like BMI, smoking, age, sex, exercise, family history, alcohol drinking were controlled.
The results showed that sodium intake was linked to 43% increase in the risk of developing type 2 diabetes for each extra gram of sodium (equivalent to 2.5 extra grams of salt) consumed per day.
In addition, people with highest consumption had a 58% higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared with the lowest consumption group.
The effect of sodium intake on the risk of developing the latent autoimmune diabetes was even greater, with a 73% rise for each gram of sodium consumed per day.
Patients with high sodium intake were almost 400% more likely to develop the disease than those consuming the lowest amount of sodium.
The researchers suggest that sodium intake should be controlled in people with type 2 diabetes and the latent autoimmune diabetes in adults.