Salt Shaking Sensation

Meghan Schroeder

How Did We Get Here?

One of the many popular cultures that Americans practice on a daily basis is the enjoyment of eating. Millions of Americans order out food everyday instead of staying home and cooking a healthier homemade meal. They plan their day around meals, social events are based completely around food or involves food in some way, and even in college professors try to grab students’ attention by bribing or rewarding students with food. Unfortunately, with a culture based entirely around food, it has caught up with most Americans, and now they are struggling with an epidemic problem of obesity related to eating too much food. Thus, a movement for a healthier nutrition has become a major concern for Americans combating the dilemma of obesity. Therefore, the question is, which foods are people supposed to avoid or promote for a healthy nutrition.

Study Shows Salty Foods May Be Dangerous

A research study has recently been published in the Times Magazine that may be a breakthrough finding for people who are willing to change their eating styles and promote a healthier diet. This study, although only a small population of 48 people partook in the experiment, supports the idea that sodium may actually be more harmful then we have realized. The objective of the study was to find if meals with different contents of macronutrients or minerals affects the way people eat. The four different meals consists of a either a low-sodium with low-fat meals, high-sodium with low-fat meals, low-sodium with high-fat meals, and high-sodium with high-fat meals. The participants later rated their meals on how enjoyable the meals are based on how full the meals made them feel. They found that high-sodium meals were more pleasant to eat than their low-sodium counterpart meals, but high-fat meals compared to low-fat meals do not have such a contrasting difference in enjoyment levels. On the other hand, a shocking discovery that these researchers found is how much of a difference salt contributes to a person eating. A person who is sensitive to fat would normally be able to control how much of a high-fatty meal they eat, due to their fullness response. However, when introducing more sodium into their meal they will not be able to control their appetite compared to the same meal with a lower-sodium, high fat meal. This is due to the salt overriding a person's "fullness" response. Consequently, a person who would normally eat a smaller portion meal, when adding salt, would eat a larger portion meal which equates to a higher total caloric intake.

But What About Fatty Foods?

It is a well known fact that fat can be attributed also to overeating, (the high-fat meals showed people eating 60% more calories in the foods compared to low-fat meals), they were still eating the same volume of food. Conversely, eating more salt correlated with eating more food, and thus eating more calories. Therefore, salt aids in the excessive consumption of fat, calories, and food altogether.

Critique

Although this study seems to reinforce the ideas people have predicted about the amount of salt in the diet is harmful, this experiment does not go without critics. For one, any statistical expert would be able to recognize that due to the small population that this experiment was conducted on, the experiment is not relevant enough to be able to generalize a whole population. The population was also conducted only in Australia, which is also a small bias group of individuals coming from a similar region and background. A second critic of this study from Fitness Magazine states that even if lowering your salt intake is healthier for some, this type of lifestyle is not always the best option for everyone. People who are physically active need more salt in their diet because of the amount of sodium they lose through their sweat (Kuzemchak, 2014). A third person who contributes to this study is a doctor who critiques strictly on this study specifically in a blog. He states that this study only talks about salt level when in actuality, salt has both sodium and chloride levels. Nevertheless, there has been very little research on the amounts of chloride and the effects it has on the body, and the little research that has been done indicates that a low chloride level is associated with a high mortality rate. Therefore, eating salt is truly helping a person and restricting it would result in a higher mortality rate among people.

What Should We Do?

Even though the critics are fair and reasonable in their opinions about this study and their views on salt intake, there is still not enough research to support the extent of how much salt effects the human body, or if it is truly helpful or hurtful. Therefore, regardless of being right or wrong, moderation is key!
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Citations

Oaklander, M. (2016, March). Science Explains Why You Can’t Stop Eating Potato Chips. Time, 187(8), Retrieved from http://time.com/4249709/salt-fat-overeating-sodium/

Kendrick, M. (2016, March 7). Salt Is Good For You. Retrieved March 14, 2016, from http://drmalcolmkendrick.org/2014/05/13/salt-is-good-for-you/

Kuzemchak, S. (2014, June). Salt Shake-Up: Why Sodium Is Good for You. Fitness. Retrieved from http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/recipes/healthy-eating/nutrition/eat-salt/