The white stuff may be the wrong stuff for your health
As a nation, it seems we can’t get enough of our favourite white seasoning. But with UK adults reportedly consuming 33% more salt a day than is recommended, is it time to break the habit?
Most of us are well aware that high blood pressure is a major risk for some of the UK’s most common killers, such as stroke and heart disease. But are you aware just how big a role salt consumption can play in developing high blood pressure in the first place?
Even if you are clued up, there’s a chance you’re not sure how much salt you’re consuming, especially if you regularly eat processed foods from which, according to Consensus Action on Salt & Health (CASH), around 75% of the salt in our diets comes.
According to research from low-salt alternative brand LoSalt, nearly two-thirds of people (63%) are not actively reducing their salt intake.
So what do you need to know about salt intake?
MYTH: You can eat as much salt as you like.
False! We need salt to survive, so cutting it out entirely is not the goal. However, too much can lead to serious problems. As many as 75% of the population don’t realise that 6g is the maximum daily recommended salt intake.
There are two components in salt, sodium and chloride, and it’s the sodium can lead to high blood pressure. Although most people with high blood pressure don’t realise they have it, it is responsible for around 50% of heart disease cases and 60% of strokes, according to the World Health Organisation.
MYTH: Rock salt is healthier than regular salt.
Many people believe trendier sea and rock salts are healthier than regular salts, but this is incorrect.
Nutritionist and dietitian Azmina Govindji said: “They contain the same amount of sodium chloride, 100%! Sea salt may contain traces of other minerals, but the levels are too low to have a health benefit.”
MYTH: Saltless food is bland.
Extra salt added during cooking makes up 20% of our salt intake. Granted this might not sound like much, but it’s the chunk of our intake of which we’re most in control. We might think our dinner will taste bland without a sprinkling of salt, but this isn’t true.
MYTH: There are no alternatives to salt.
For those who really can’t go without the taste of salt, brands like LoSalt offer an alternative. It still contains all the flavour of normal salt, but contains 66% less sodium.
MYTH: Cutting out salt in cooking is all you need to do.
Not adding salt to cooking is a good start but it’s important to remember that this is only a small part of the solution, and there’s plenty more you can do.
The food we buy fresh in supermarkets can still be salt heavy, so always read the labels. If you can’t always cook from scratch, choose low-salt options.
Eat notoriously high-salt foods, like cheese, bacon, ham, salted and roasted nuts in moderation, and watch out for ready meals, pizzas, pasta sauces and bread. They’re usually far higher in salt than you might think.
Patients who need care in their own homes are increasingly faced with “rushed and abrupt” district nurses, a report has suggested.
District nurses are having to take a “task-focused” approach to care as a result of mounting caseloads and shortages of staff, according to a report by The King’s Fund.
The health think tank warned that as a result, care for some of society’s most vulnerable people could be compromised.
The report highlights the ‘vital’ role that district nurses play in the NHS with their input often making the difference between people being able to stay in their own homes or moving into residential care settings.
District nursing services are most commonly used by older or disabled people, or those nearing the end of life.
In recent years there has been a “growth in the volume and complexity of the work”, the authors wrote. But at the same time there has been a decline in the workforce and problems in recruiting new staff.
Examples of “poor quality and unsafe care” included staff being rushed and abrupt with patients; delays to treatment; less frequent visits; reductions in the amount of preventive care given; and a deterioration in the continuity of care.
The authors called on health leaders to reverse declining staff numbers to create a sustainable workforce.
Anna Charles, policy researcher at The King’s Fund, said: “At its best, district nursing offers an ideal model of person-centred, preventive, community-based care.
“For years, health service leaders have talked about the importance of providing more care in the community, but this objective cannot be achieved when district nursing is at breaking point.
“It is worrying that the people likely to be affected by this are often vulnerable and also among those who are most likely to be affected by cuts in social care and voluntary sector services.”
Kathryn Yates, professional lead for primary and community care at the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), said: “It’s two years since the RCN warned that the district nurse role was in danger of extinction, yet the situation is at least as bad today.
“District nurses and their teams are being stretched to the point where quality is at risk and there is no sign that the rise in demand will abate.
Janet Morrison, chief executive of the charity Independent Age, said: “District nursing is a vital service helping keep frail elderly people out of hospital so it’s appalling that staff have less and less time to help.
“We need more, not fewer, district nurses as our ageing population continues to grow.”
Hilary Garratt, director of nursing at NHS England, said: “We recognise the hard work of district and community nurses and the pressures many are feeling.
“It is vital we are able to attract the right numbers of nurses and other clinical staff where they are needed.”