We have all heard that salt and sugar are two substances that are bad for your health – but is all the ‘bad’ justified, are salt and sugar really all that bad for you?
When consumed in excess, both salt and sugar can lead to weight gain and other diseases that influence your appearance and general health. Medically, an excess of both of these substances are bad for your heart and directly cause elevated blood pressure, which affects millions of people around the world. However, you may be shocked to learn that both salt and sugar have natural healing properties that benefit the body when consumed in moderation.
What Makes Up Your Daily Calorie Count?
Both salt and sugar are ingredients that are found in a variety of common food products. They count for a huge amount of calories that are consumed on a daily basis and can become addicting over time. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Americans’ consumption of salt and sugar comes from four main sources, such as:
- Naturally-Occurring (Healthy) Food
- Pre-Packaged Food
- Processed Food
- Restaurant Food
The issue, of course, lies in just how much of these ingredients you consume from unhealthy sources. Sugar is often used commercially in preparing food to add a sweet taste while salt is used to preserve food. More specifically, most American’s eat more unhealthy types of foods rather than healthy foods that contain natural and unprocessed forms of these ingredients that offer health benefits.
The Difference Between Sucrose & Fructose
You may be shocked to learn that sugar can actually provide a vast array of health benefits for the body. The simple sugars sucrose and fructose are carbohydrates that enter your bloodstream and can be used by your cells for energy. However, there is a huge difference between these two types of sugar. Fructose, also known as a “fruit sugar”, is found in many common fruits that tend to have high amounts of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, while sucrose, known as table sugar, is linked to diseases like diabetes and can lead to excessive weight gain. While these sugars provide your body the same amounts of energy, fructose is the safer sugar to indulge in compared to sucrose that can cause your blood sugar levels to skyrocket.
The Sodium Myth Cracked
Salt, also known as sodium, is most famously called a “silent” killer because it is responsible for causing upwards of 350,000 deaths per year, according to statistics gathered from the Center for Disease Control. While some people strongly believe that too much salt is unhealthy and is disease-forming, others believe that high salt intake only affects those who have health conditions like heart disease or high blood pressure. Scientifically, salt can actually benefit your health when used in moderation as it can strengthen the cardiovascular system and help to prevent diabetes. While salt has natural properties that are excellent for sanitation and preservation, too much salt can also cause negative effects throughout the body. Most importantly, salt is alkalizing, which means that it can neutralize acidity in your body that actually is the root cause of many imbalances that lead to disease.
Insulin: The Hormone Of Regulation
It is interesting to note that an excess amount of sugar in the body can negatively affect blood pressure levels when it interacts with sodium. As the body absorbs high amounts of sugar, your body automatically releases the hormone insulin. This hormone plays a specific role in removing sugars from your blood stream and providing energy for different cellular functions. Inherently, insulin also stimulates the kidneys to retain sodium naturally. What this means is that an imbalance in either one of these ingredients can lead to disease.
How Salt & Sugar React Together In The Body
When salt is consumed in healthy increments, it acts to absorb and transport vital nutrients from food. It also has a direct impact on the amount of liquids retained by your body outside of your cells. Effectively, the amount of salt in your bloodstream determines your blood volume that consequently regulates blood pressure levels. So, if an individual overeats sugary or salty foods, blood pressure level spikes quickly and insulin levels are quickly affected. This is one of the leading contributors to common diseases like heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes that are often thought to be hard to treat.
The Key To Maintaining Your Health
One of the oldest adages, “all good things come in moderation,” is one of the truest statements to live by. The key to maintaining optimal levels of both salt and sugar is to know what food sources contain healthy amounts of these ingredients. While fruits contain healthy sugars, it is still easy to consume too much fructose as some fruits contain more fructose than others. On the other hand, when you choose to cook food at home, you have the ability to control how much salt you use in preparing meals. When you understand how salt and sugar work synergistically, you can work proactively to monitor blood sugar and blood pressure levels while maintaining the right amount of insulin and other key functional hormones.
It’s generally better to think of food as nourishing or not nourishing rather than good and bad. Food can be medicine or a disease trigger depending on how nourishing you make your meals. It can help protect your skin from the sun, or reduce muscle soreness after exercise. It just depends on the food choices you make and how well you balance those choices. Food can be a lot of fun, just don’t go too crazy too often.