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Should You Give Up Sugar or Salt? Discover the Surprising Answer!

Here is what the expert recommends for good health and vitality

Mrini Devnani
Consume both sugar and salt in moderation (Photo Source: Pexels.com)
Consume both sugar and salt in moderation (Photo Source: Pexels.com)

In the perpetual quest for healthier living, the debate between sugar and salt is ongoing. However, both are ubiquitous in our modern diet, contributing to flavor, texture, and preservation of foods. Excessive consumption of either can lead to a plethora of health issues. Thus, such nuances should be kept in mind before we can investigate the answer to this debatable question.

Sugar, particularly in its refined form, has been linked to innumerable health concerns, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and dental problems. It provides empty calories, offering little to no nutritional value. Excessive sugar consumption can lead to erratic blood sugar levels, energy crashes, and increased cravings, perpetuating a cycle of overeating.

Salt, primarily in the form of sodium chloride, is essential for bodily functions such as nerve transmission and fluid balance. However, excessive salt intake is associated with hypertension, stroke, heart disease, and kidney problems. Processed and packaged foods often contain high levels of hidden salt, making it challenging to regulate consumption.

The Right Approach:

While both sugar and salt pose significant health risks in excess, it is crucial to prioritize reducing added sugars in the diet. Unlike salt, which the body requires in moderate amounts, added sugars provide no nutritional benefit and can wreak havoc on metabolic health.

Anjum Shaikh, Founder and CEO of Anjum’s Diet & Wellness opines that the ideal consumption of salt should not be more than 2.4gm per day. Similarly, one needs to investigate the excessive consumption of sugar as well, especially since India is home to the second-largest number of diabetics alone.

“Too much sugar in your system can make you obese and promote atherosclerosis, all of which increase the risk of developing heart disease significantly. On the other hand, excess sodium can heighten blood pressure levels, putting one at risk of heart disease. So, cutting back by reducing salt and sugar intake can boost energy and protect the heart with incredible rewards,” she says.

The expert recommends consumption in moderation. She also suggests undergoing a thorough assessment by a health practitioner to see if indeed one is taking sugar or salt in excess. “Stopping sugar and salt will be harmful to the body as the electrolyte balance and hydration will go for a toss. It can further cause problems like headaches, irritability, mood swings, muscle cramps, and extreme cravings. Hence, adults whose medical issues require them to reduce salt and sugar intake in the long term are easily able to do it by seeking alternatives.”

She continues, “Usually, taste buds adapt to lower intake of salt and sugar if one is consistent in the eating habits. Alternatives like natural fruits for sweet cravings without the use of artificial sweeteners can be considered. Seasoning your food with oregano, thyme, garlic, lime, etc. helps people adapt to a low salt diet.”

Those who wish to start, she says, can do so by reducing foods that are processed like bakery items, ready-to-eat cereals, ready-to-eat pasta, pizza, chips, salted nuts, and hotel takes-outs. “Start reading labels. The nutrition facts label on food packaging makes it easy to see exactly how much sodium and added sugars are in each serving even if you do not have any health issues. Keep checking your blood sugar levels too. Lastly, consult a dietician to assess and guide you.”

Addressing the Debate in 2024:

In 2024, the trend toward reducing sugar and salt consumption has gained momentum as people are becoming more health-conscious. With increased awareness of the detrimental effects of these additives, consumers are demanding healthier alternatives from food manufacturers. Moreover, governments and health organizations are also implementing policies and campaigns to educate the public and regulate the food industry.

Hence, integrating healthier choices into the diet and practicing mindful eating is the need of the hour. Instead of viewing it as deprivation, it is time to consider a journey towards improved well-being and vitality. So, make informed choices and adopt healthier habits to savor the sweetness of a balanced life.

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