• Health & Wellness

    Mayo Clinic Minute: Can extra salt hurt your kidneys?

Sodium is a mineral that your body needs to function well. When you combine sodium with the mineral, chloride, the two make table salt. 

Sodium is added to many processed foods, including packaged and frozen meals. Many recipes call for salt in the ingredients, and many people add table salt to their food for flavor. But according to Dr. Ivan Porter II, a Mayo Clinic nephrologist, adding too much salt to your diet is not a good thing. A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that adding salt to your food can increase your risk of chronic kidney disease.

Watch: The Mayo Clinic Minute

Journalists: Broadcast-quality video (1:10) is in the downloads at the end of this post. Please courtesy: "Mayo Clinic News Network." Read the script.

Your kidneys balance the amount of sodium in your body. If you're getting too much, it builds up in your blood. Your heart works harder to pump and increases blood pressure, raising the risk of heart disease, stroke and kidney disease.

"Chronic kidney disease — that's the way that we describe what occurs when the kidney has issues with filtering wastes and toxins from the blood," says Dr. Porter.

Sodium is added to most processed foods. It's also in a lot of condiments. "So it's very easy for us to get way more sodium than we need. And it's very easy for us to get a dangerous amount of sodium that has some impact on our blood pressure or our overall health," he says.

The recommended daily limit of sodium is 2,300 milligrams, or about 1 teaspoon. Dr. Porter recommends reading food labels. And cut back on the saltshaker by using salt-free seasonings.

"Sometimes you can either stop or reverse some of the initial damage that happens with chronic kidney disease. The longer that the process goes on, the more severe it is, the less likely it is to be able to get back to healthy kidneys. And that's when we have to think about things to replace kidney function like dialysis or transplant," he says.

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