How to counteract too much salt intake?

In this brief guide, we will answer the question, “How to counteract too much salt intake?”. We will elaborate on the short-term and long-term effects of consuming too much salt, and the recommended intake of salt a day. 

How to counteract too much salt intake?

If you suspect high levels of salt in your body or you think you may be sensitive to salt, the first thing you should do is to talk to your doctor. 

Some people have a greater risk of being irritable to salt, particularly people above the age of 51, and individuals with heart diseases or high blood pressure. The doctor may advise you to: 

Drink lots of water: This will help to flush excess salt from the kidneys; and will also reduce the symptoms of bloating.

Exercise: This will help to reduce salt concentration through sweating. An average person eliminates roughly half a tsp of salt via sweating per one hour of exercise.

Eat potassium-rich foods: Foods that are loaded with potassium help to counteract excess salt. Potassium helps to decrease blood pressure and sweat out excess fluid. 

Foods such as bananas, yoghurt, white beans, leafy vegetables, herbal tea and potatoes, are all rich in potassium. However, people with kidney problems should control their potassium intake and consult with their doctor.

Other tips that may help you to counteract too much salt include:

  • Pick unprocessed grains
  • drain and rinse canned beans and vegetables before consuming them
  • Customize your meals, adding only a small amount of salt if necessary
  • Cook pasta, rice, plus oatmeal without adding salt
  • Cook your food using fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, poultry and fish
  • Decrease portion size, the lesser the food, the lower the consumption of salt 
  • Check labels on ready-made and processed foods and choose products with lower sodium content
  • Pick canned vegetables without added salt, or frozen vegetables that have no salty seasonings
  • Grill, braise, roast, sear, and sauté foods without adding salt to draw out natural flavours

What is the prescribed daily intake of salt?

Our body needs only a small quantity of salt. We should get about 1,500 mg of salt each day. Too much salt can result in stroke, cardiovascular disease, and high blood pressure.

The short term effects of consuming too much salt

Eating too much salt at a time, either in one meal or throughout the day, can lead to the following short-term effects.

Water retention

People with too much salt concentration will experience bloating as their kidneys try to keep a precise salt-to-water proportion in their bodies. To do so, the kidneys retain excess water to counterbalance the extra salt they consume.

This elevated water retention may cause inflammation, particularly in the hands and feet, and can lead to increased weight.

Raised blood pressure

A meal high in salt can also cause a greater blood volume to move through the blood vessels and arteries, leading to a transient increase in blood pressure

Extreme thirst

Eating a meal high in salt can also lead to a dry mouth or feeling extremely thirsty. Prompting the person to drink is another method in which the body attempts to control the salt-to-water proportion.

The resulting rise in fluid consumption can cause the person to pee more often. On the other hand, if a person does not drink fluids after having large amounts of salt, the salt levels boost up crossing the secure level, leading to a condition recognised as hypernatremia.

Hypernatremia can make water extract out of the cells and into the blood, in an effort to dilute the surplus salt. If not treated, the fluid shift can lead to agitation, convulsions, coma, and even death.

Additional signs of hypernatremia include uneasiness, breathing and sleeping problems, and lowered urination

The long term effects of consuming too much salt

Consuming too much salt for an extended period may lead to many health problems, as described below.

  • Raised blood pressure
  • Diets rich in salt significantly raise blood pressure 
  • May increase the risk of stomach cancer 
  • Frequent headaches
  • Increased risks of heart disease and premature death
  • Increased risk of kidney stones

WHO recommendations for reducing salt consumption

The World Health Organisation recommends the consumption of fewer than 5 grams of salt a day for adults.

The WHO also suggests eating iodized salt, or salt fortified with iodine, which is necessary for normal brain development of the fetuses and young children. It helps to optimize mental functioning in common.

Other FAQs about Salt that you may be interested in.

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In this brief guide, we have provided an answer to the question, “How to counteract too much salt intake?”. We have also elaborated on the short-term and long-term effects of consuming too much salt, and the recommended intake of salt a day.