why do we need salt to live

Recent efforts to reduce salt content in foods might be
harder for some to swallow literally. Some people experience the taste of salt more intensely than others, and this taste difference might be due, at least in part, to, a new study suggests. So-called supertasters taste saltiness, bitterness and sweetness more acutely than others, said study researcher John Hayes, an assistant professor of food science at Penn State University. This heighted salt sense can lead to an increased consumption of snack foods, which usually have saltiness as their primary flavor, he said. Salt has been in the spotlight recently, with many public health experts calling for manufacturers and restaurants to. In April, the Institute of Medicine released a report urging the federal government to step in and limit salt levels in foods. Diets high in salt are concerning because salt is thought to increase the risk of high blood pressure and stroke. Currently, U. S. citizens consume two to three times the amount of salt recommended for good health. The research involved 87 participants who sampled salty foods, such as broth, chips and pretzels, on multiple occasions, spread out over weeks. They were also interviewed by a nutritionist and kept food records to gauge how frequently they ate certain foods.


Test subjects were 45 men and 42 women ranging in age from 20 to 40 years. The participants were broken up into three groups supertasters, medium tasters and nontasters based on their ability to taste a certain chemical compound known as propylthiouracil. Some perceived the substance to have an extremely bitter taste, while others hardly tasted a thing. How sensitive a person is to the bitter taste is genetic. The participants then rated the intensity of taste of the various foods on a commonly used scientific scale, ranging from barely detectable to strongest sensation of any kind. Those classified as supertasters reported tasting more saltiness in liquid-salt solutions than nontasters and medium tasters, and they were also more sensitive to changes in salt levels in broth and cheeses. Supertasters also indicated in their diaries that they ate more high-salt foods than those in the other groups. However, supertasters reported adding less salt to foods than nontasters, presumably because nontasters need more salt to get the same perception of saltiness as supertasters, Hayes said. However, most of the salt we consume comes from salt added to processed foods and not from the salt shaker, he said.


Supertasters might also struggle with low salt levels in foods, because they need the salt flavor to mask the bitterness present in certain foods. For example, cheese is a wonderful from fermented milk, but also bitter tastes from ripening that are blocked by salt, Hayes said. A supertaster finds low-salt cheese unpleasant, because the bitterness is too pronounced. Hayes advises consumers to lower their salt intake by reading the food label and looking for products that contain fewer than 480 milligrams of sodium per serving. The results were published June 16 in the journal Physiology Behavior. Chris - Well the reason the body needs salt is because every single one of our cells contains large amounts of salt and, salt is the generic term for ions, charged particles, and most of the cells in our body in fact, all of the cells in our body are electrical. In other words they pump these ions from one side of their cell membrane which is a lipid or oily substance and therefore an insulator so they pump ions from one side of that membrane to the other and this means there is an electrical potential difference across the membrane of a cell and this means that this gradient this electrical difference can be used by the cell to do other sorts of work.


So cells for instance do have channels that sodium can flow in to the cell and it comes down its potential difference in concentration gradient and the result is that it can be used to pull in glucose at the same time. So sugars can get into cells. So we need salts in our cells - that's how they regulate their size by bringing water in by osmosis. That's how they regulate electrical activity. Nerve cells for instance couldn't carry information without actually having this electrical gradient across the membrane because all that's happening when a nerve cells fires off an impulse is that you get a sudden flood of sodium in to one patch of a nerve cell. This brings in lots of plus in to that part of the cell and therefore an electrical signal goes whizzing goes down the nerve and gets built up and regenerated as it goes down the nerve and it travels at about 50 to a 100 meters a second so very rapid transmission of information. So we need salts in our body, we take in salt in our diet, we absorb salts and those salts are also include important things like calcium to make your bone strong but you're also losing salts all the time when you go to the toilet for example you lose calcium, you lose phosphates.


This is both in urine and faeces so you have to continuously top up the number of salts that you have in your body because you have obligate or insensible losses. Kat - But we hear so much about salt being really bad for you in your diet giving you high blood pressure. So if you have a diet that's too low in salt is that also pretty bad for you? Chris - Well the body is very good at scavenging salt from what you eat and what you drink so it's very rare for people to get too lower levels of salt in the body based on diet alone. Usually there's something pathological going on. Sometimes what happens is that people have a problem called syndrome of inappropriate ADH. This is anti-diuretic hormone and the body saves too much water so it scavenges back water and as a result your blood can become too dilute and you have very low sodium levels and this can cause problems with your brain swelling. It can also cause the accumulation of water elsewhere around the body and it can cause heart failure so a bad thing to have. But that can cause low salt levels that can make people feel dizzy.

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