YMCA Healthy Living Magazine, powered by n4 food and health SPRING 2019 - Page 4

ANIKA ROUF Anika Rouf is an Accredited Practising Dietitian and PhD Candidate, researching social media use to improve the eating habits of young adults. She is passionate about healthy home cooking and working towards small sustainable behaviour changes. Follow Anika at anikarouf.com and on Twitter: anika_rouf and Instagram: shenanigansofadietitian UNDERSTANDING SALT AND HOW IT IMPACTS OUR HEALTH Dietitian and social media dynamo Anika Rouf gives us the lowdown on salt and our health. alt (sodium) is a natural substance that is actually made up of about 40% sodium and 60% chloride. Our body requires a small dietary intake of salt, to maintain vital bodily functions, like conduction of nerve impulses, muscle contractions and maintenance body fluids and electrolytes. The estimated requirement for sodium is 500mg per day – or about 1/8 of a teaspoon. Fortunately, salt deficiency is not an issue in our food supply, as many of the foods we eat naturally contain small levels of sodium and processed foods contain large amounts of salt. However, we need to be mindful of salt intake, as eating too much can increase your risk of high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases. S 4 YMCA HEALTHY LIVING MAGAZINE SPRING 2019 Salt intake and recommendations: How do Australians stack up? In Australia, the recommendations for sodium intake were last revised in 2017, and the suggested dietary target (SDT) was determined as 2000mg (5g salt) per day for adults. This is in line with the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recommendation to limit sodium intake to no more than 5g of salt per day. The current dietary intake in Australia and New Zealand is about 3600mg or 9g per day – almost double the recommended limit. It is estimated that 80% of the intake comes from processed foods and only 20% is from salt used at the table or in home cooking. A recent systematic review published in the Medical Journal of Australia found that on average, men eat 10.1g salt per day, while women eat 7.34g per day. While there is no nationally representative study of salt intake in Australia, it is clear that Australians are eating far more salt than our bodies need.