When blood flows through arteries, veins and capillaries a pressure is exerted on the walls of blood tubes. This pressure exerted on the tube walls due to blood flow is called blood pressure. Perhaps the term should be blood pressure implying pressure of blood instead of blood pressure.
Substitutes For Salt
It is due to its pressure that blood is able to surge through the vessels. Blood pressure monitors give two readings for a single measurement of the blood pressure of any person. The first reading is the higher reading and measures blood pressure when the heart beats and pumps out blood. This reading is called the systolic blood pressure reading. The second reading is the lower reading that measures the blood pressure between heartbeats. This reading is called diastolic blood pressure reading. The normal readings should be 120 mm Hg for the high and 80 mm Hg for the low readings.
Regulation of blood flow in the body
The heart and kidney are the main organs that control blood flow in the body. The heart pumps blood and the kidney removes excess water from the blood. Retention of excess water causes the blood pressure to increase. The blood flow in the body apart from being regulated by the fluid pressure of the blood itself is also controlled by blood vessel size, smooth muscle action, and one-way valves.
Causes of high blood pressure
We can get high blood pressure if our blood exerts more than normal pressure on the blood vessel walls.
There can be several factors that can cause high blood pressure. HBP condition can be chronic or occur for the long term as well as short term. Common factors that affect blood pressure include:
- Hormone levels in the blood
- Stress factors
- Food habits
- Standing and sitting postures
If blood pressure remains high for a long period it can stiffen blood vessels and cause them damage. Uncontrolled BP can cause stroke, heart failure, or kidney failure. Normally as we age our blood pressure tends to increase. Primary hypertension is an HBP condition when no known cause can be associated with an increase in blood pressure. Primary hypertension is mostly due to the adaptation of the body to changes as it ages. Secondary hypertension can be related to underlying causes like kidney disease, thyroid disease, adrenal gland problems, and sleep apnea.
There are no singular symptoms of HBP. Similar symptoms can exist for other diseases as well. It is for this reason HBP is often known as the silent killer as detection through symptoms can be difficult. Blood pressure needs to be monitored regularly to determine HBP or LBP conditions.
How does common salt aggravate high blood pressure?
Table salt or common salt mostly contains a compound called sodium chloride. The formula of sodium chloride is NaCl. NaCl has ionic bonding. Sodium has the highest place in the activity series, followed by potassium K, magnesium Mg. Potassium and magnesium though high on activity series are less active than sodium. The body requires ions like Na+, K+ and Mg++ for several neurological processes in very small amounts.
When we intake salt we increase the concentration of sodium ions in blood and blood tends to hold back more water. There is an increase in blood volume and due to it an increase in blood pressure. Further increase in blood pressure occurs due to an increase in stress on the heart. The heart has to pump out more volume and more pressure is exerted on blood vessels by the heart. People can have different sensitivity to salt. Some people report quicker changes in BP by changing the amount of salt intake.
Substitutes for salt
The daily recommended intake of salt is 2300 mg per day or about half a teaspoon per day. Most people consume at least 1000 mg more than the recommended amount. The best salt substitute is switching to low salt and low sodium diets. High blood pressure people can choose low sodium foods from racks and prepare their meals with a little salt.
Potassium and magnesium salts can also decrease the effect that sodium has on blood volume as being less reactive ionization is lesser. Smart salts are salts with less Sodium and more Potassium and Magnesium in the mix. There is established research that shows that substitution of table salt with smart salts leads to a decrease in SBP over 8 weeks of intake in people with mild HBP. Rock salt, Himalayan salt, and black salt which are potassium and magnesium salts can also be good substitutes.