How Does High Salt Intake Affect a Diabetic?

It is a saying that you should take your life with a pinch of salt. But it can’t be said in the case of a person suffering from diabetes. It is a known fact that a diabetic should eat everything in moderation. That even includes salt. Excessive usage of salt increases the risk of cardiovascular attack or heart stroke as well. It is expected from people who are diabetic that should cut the sodium intake in their food and that doesn’t mean that they should just a tasteless or plain food. Cutting down sodium means cutting down on the canned vegetables, canned soup, salad dressings and cereals. Though the percentage of sodium mentioned on the label may or may not be right, it is still better to avoid things which contain sodium. Being a diabetic one must always keep an eye on sodium intake as people even experience high blood pressure after a salty food intake.

Salt is not known to increase the blood sugar levels but still as a part of a diabetes management program it is best to limit it. Eating salt can lead to high blood pressure levels and which not only increases the risk of heart attacks but also the kidney failure and in severe cases, may even lead to stomach cancer.

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Findings and Research on Risk of High Salt intake linked to Diabetes

There are a few findings from the Institute of Environmental Medicine – IMM at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden which have proved to be very beneficial on the subject:

  1. For every 2.5 extra grams of sodium, almost 43% increase in the risk of developing type II diabetes has been seen. This consumption is on a per day basis.
  2. For those who consumed 7.3 grams per day are at a risk of almost 73% higher than the ones who consume lesser than 6 grams.
  3. Salt is known to have a direct influence on the insulin resistance and it does increase the blood pressure and also weight gain.
  4. Further to this, high salt intake can also lead to develop LADA – Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults which is a kind of Type 1 diabetes. In this situation, the pancreatic insulin-producing cells are damaged by the body’s own immune mechanism.

All these facts have been confirmed by Bahareh Rasouli from the IMM while presenting his research paper on the subject at the European Association for the study of diabetes in Lisbon.

Effect of Salt Intake on a Diabetic

Let’s find out the main sources of salt 

  1. Takeaway meals and processed food.
  2. Salty meats like bacon, sausages and ham
  3. Snacks such as biscuits, popcorn, crisps, salted nuts etc
  4. Cheese, prawns, anchovies, smoked fish
  5. Breakfast cereal
  6. Mayonnaise, ketchup and pickles
  7. Canned food and soups

There are some tips to help you reduce the intake of salt in your diet

=> It is a common thing that we keep a salt shaker on our dining table and when we start to eat the cooked meal, we put some salt over it. Not only in our homes, but also whenever we are eating outside. So this needs to be avoided. If the salt is not cooked in the meal it will turn out to be fatal if sprinkled on food. Not immediately but later on the repercussions shall be visible. So avoid sprinkling salt on the food.

=> In case you feel that the salt content is little less, load your food with mixed herbs. Use garlic, basil, thyme, rosemary, dill, spring onion, lemon, black pepper, chives and the list is huge.

=> Measure each time the salt that you use to cook food. Try and reduce it every single time till you are able to come to the bare minimum requirement in the diet. Make sure that you do not cut it out completely because even sodium is required for a healthy functioning of the body but in moderation.

=> All of us have busy lifestyles and we hardly get time to cook so we get the processed meals or the ready meals. While you are choosing, ensure that the label reads amber or green for salt. It shall be little less dangerous to consume.

=> Most importantly, rather than purchasing processed food, it is much better to cook for yourself and your family. Use organic vegetables, fruits, rice, potatoes and pulses. These are generally very low in salt and also are very healthy option.


Salt can cause the blood vessels to get stiff and can cause blood clotting which is very harmful for the heart to function well. Though earlier for a diabetic, it was only mandatory to cut down on the sugar consumption but eventually when patients complained of high blood pressure, doctors found out that salt is equally harmful. Therefore, salt was also regarded as harmful for a diabetic. The only key for a diabetic to survive with diabetes is to eat healthy and eat everything is moderation.

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