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Salt nausea: Are You Eating Too Much Salt?

Are You Eating Too Much Salt?

Reviewed by Christine Mikstas, RD, LD on February 24, 2023

Salt is a seasoning that can flavor food and act as a preservative. It’s about 60% chloride and about 40% sodium. Nearly all unprocessed foods — think veggies, fruits, nuts, meats, whole grains, and dairy foods — are low in sodium. The salt that we do eat helps relax and contract muscles, lends a hand with nerve impulses, and balances the minerals and water we take in.

Our body needs only a small amount of sodium. We should get about 1,500 milligrams of it every day. But the average American takes in about 3,400. Too much salt can lead to a stroke, heart disease, and high blood pressure. But how do you know if you take in too much salt?

Bloating — when your stomach feels swollen or tight — is one of the most common short-term effects of having too much salt. It helps your body retain water, so extra fluid builds up. Foods don’t have to taste salty for them to be high in sodium. Sandwiches, pizza, bagels, and canned soup can be sneaky sources for salt.

There are lots of reasons you might have high blood pressure, but one could be too much sodium. The change in blood pressure happens through your kidneys. Too much salt makes it harder for them to get rid of fluid that you don’t need. As a result, your blood pressure goes up.

Swelling can be a sign of too much sodium in your body. Body parts like your face, hands, feet, and ankles are most likely to swell. If you’re more puffy than usual, take a look at how much salt you’re eating.

If you’ve been really thirsty lately, it could be a sign that you’re eating too much salt. When that happens, you become dehydrated. Your body pulls water from your cells, and you might start to feel very thirsty. Drinking water can help neutralize that salt and can freshen up your cells.

When you retain water, you might gain weight. If you’ve put on pounds quickly over a week or even a few days, it could be because you’re having too much salt. If you gain more than 2 pounds in a day or 4 pounds in a week, think back to the foods you ate during the past few days and try to make changes to cut down on the salt.

More salt could lead to more trips to the bathroom. This could be because salt can make you very thirsty, which might encourage you to drink more water. Later on, you might have to go to the bathroom more than usual.  

If you eat too much salt before bed, it can lead to disturbances in your sleep. Signs can range from restless sleep, to waking up often at night, to not feeling rested in the morning.

When there’s too much salt in your blood, water gushes out of your cells to thin out the salt. The result? You might start to feel weaker than usual.

If too much salt in your diet makes you dehydrated, your stomach will feel it. You might feel nauseated, or you might have diarrhea. If your stomach is upset or you have cramps, take a look at what you’ve been eating during the past few days and figure out how to cut back on the salt. Drinking plenty of water can help rehydrate your cells and get you feeling better.

Although there are lots of short-term effects to watch out for, there are also long-term effects of eating too much salt. It might raise your chances of things like enlarged heart muscle, headaches, heart failure, high blood pressure, kidney disease, kidney stones, osteoporosis, stomach cancer, and stroke.

Since 9 out of 10 Americans get too much sodium, chances are, you might take in too much as well.

To help keep your levels in check:

  • Choose fresh meats instead of packaged ones. 
  • When you buy frozen vegetables, choose ones that are “fresh frozen” and stay away from ones with seasoning or sauces already added.
  • Read labels and check the sodium content in the foods you buy.
  • When choosing spices and seasonings, go for ones that do not list sodium on their labels.
  • If you eat out, you can ask for your dish to be prepared without salt.


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Harvard School of Public Health: “Salt and Sodium.

American Heart Association: “How Too Much Sodium Affects Your Health.”

Harvard Health Publishing: “Fluid retention: What it can mean for your heart.”

Better Health Channel: “Fluid retention (oedema).”

Pediatric Nephrology (Berlin): “Is too much salt harmful? Yes.”

Natural Medicine: “The effect of increased salt intake on blood pressure of chimpanzees.”

Hypertension: “Effects of Sodium Reduction on Energy Metabolism, Weight, Thirst, and Urine Volume: Results from the DASH-Sodium Trial.”

Cleveland Clinic: “Too Much Salt Is Bad — For Your Heart and Your Sleep,” “Feel Bloated? 5 Odd Reasons for Your Stomach Pain,” “How Salt Can Impact Your Blood Pressure, Heart and Kidneys

Poison Control: “Sodium: Too Much of a Good Thing.”

MedlinePlus: “Sodium Blood Test.”

Texas A&M Health: “You Asked: What Happens to Your Body When You Eat Too Much Salt?”

National Kidney Foundation: “Top 10 Tips for Reducing Salt in Your Diet.

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If you have a real hankering for the taste of salt, it may stem from your mother’s morning sickness


August 12, 1998

Some people love the taste of salt. It’s the first condiment they reach for. They also devour chips, popcorn, pretzels and the other snack foods rich in salt

It turns out that people’s preference for salt may have been imprinted while they were still in their mother’s womb, according to University of Washington psychologists. Researchers Ilene Bernstein and Sue Crystal have found a link between people’s salt preference and the level of morning sickness experienced by their mothers when they were pregnant.
Studying 16-week-old infants, the UW researchers found that babies whose mothers suffered moderate to severe nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy showed a greater preference for salt-water solutions than did babies whose mothers experienced mild or no morning sickness.

In earlier work, Bernstein and Crystal showed a similar pattern of salt preference among young adults. They found that the adult children of mothers who reported moderate or severe morning sickness had higher self-reported salt use, salt intake in the laboratory and preference for salty snack food than the offspring of women who had mild or no symptoms.

“It is astonishing that something that happened prenatally and is so common can have such a strong impact on infant preference and can have enduring consequences,” said Bernstein, a professor of psychology who studies taste function and preference.

Heavy salt intake is related to and considered a risk factor for hypertension, and many people on low-salt diets have trouble staying on their diets because they find the food to be unpalatable.

The infant study, published in the current issue of the journal “Appetite,” was conducted as part of Crystal’s doctoral dissertation. She is now a post-doctoral fellow at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia.

Nearly two-thirds of pregnant women suffer the symptoms of morning sickness and Bernstein said it is the dehydration associated with vomiting that seems to be the key in shaping a fondness for salt.

“Fluid depletion in the mother triggers the hormonal system in the blood and kidneys to restore the normal fluid level,” explained Bernstein. “We don’t know if these hormones cross the placental barrier and affect the baby or if dehydration causes the baby to release its own hormones to restore the fluid balance. These hormones can have powerful effects on the brain.

“Normally, morning sickness is not treated, but people are treated for dehydration by replacing fluids and salt. We don’t know what other systems morning sickness might be affecting.”

Crystal and Bernstein conducted two tests with 16-week-old infants who had no experience with food aside from formula or mother’s milk.

In the first, small, measured amounts of three solutions — distilled water, 0.6 percent salt water and 1. 2 percent salt water — were squirted into the babies’ mouths. The babies’ facial expressions, ranging from grimaces to licking happily, were later coded by observers who didn’t know what solutions the infants were drinking. In the second test, the infants were given bottles filled with 20 milliliters of the same three water solutions for one minute or until they rejected a bottle. The amount of water consumed was then calculated.

In both tests, infants whose mothers suffered from moderate to severe morning sickness exhibited a stronger preference for the 1.2 percent salt solution than did the babies whose moms had little or no morning sickness. Bernstein described this solution as having a taste similar to the water people use in gargling. It isn’t as salty as tomato juice or chicken soup, but would taste saltier than mother’s milk or human saliva.

For the study, mild morning sickness consisted of vomiting once or twice during a pregnancy. Moderate to severe vomiting ranged from once every other day for at least one week to two and three times a day for three weeks.

“Admittedly, the connection between salt preference and morning sickness is unusual,” said Bernstein. “But I think it gives us a window on how taste preferences are shaped.”

For more information, contact Bernstein at (206) 543-4527 or [email protected] or Crystal at (215) 898-3770 or [email protected].

How to overcome bouts of vomiting? | Medical Ecosystem Doctors Online

Relaxation techniques

For nausea and vomiting, stress should be kept to a minimum.

Here are a few simple relaxation techniques that can help:

  1. Place a towel soaked in cold water on your forehead or neck. A refreshing compress will help prevent the urge to vomit.
  2. A walk in the fresh air is the best solution if nausea is caught by surprise. Walk around the neighborhood without going very far from your home or place of work. Breathe deeply, make small stops, rest on a bench if possible. Fresh air will help you relax.
  3. If vomiting and nausea occur at home, lie on your back, raise your legs slightly and place pillows under them.
  4. To distract yourself from nausea, you can try tactile relaxation: feel your hand, lightly tap your thigh with your fist, bite your lower lip, stretch your forearm with your hands.
  5. Acupressure can also help: gently press your finger on a point located in the very center of your wrist; put both wrists together.

solid food for nausea

Surprisingly, a small snack on solid food can help with nausea and sudden urge to vomit:

  • Dry crackers in small quantities will help stop the urge to vomit and relieve nausea for a while. Crackers contain a lot of starch, which absorbs stomach acid well;
  • After vomiting, do not immediately lean on heavy food. It is best to limit yourself to breadcrumbs and something based on gelatin. These foods will help to cope with the urge to vomit and prepare the stomach for normal food;
  • Peppermint candies not only help mask bad breath, but also reduce the urge to vomit. In addition, with the resorption of lollipops, bowel function normalizes much faster;
  • For symptoms of nausea, it is also advised to chew or eat ginger in small portions. Some people find ginger tea helpful;

Drinking fluids for vomiting

Drinking will help reduce the urge to vomit and also relieve dehydration:

  • Drink water as soon as you feel sick. It is desirable that the water be at body temperature so as not to increase the motility of the stomach and not cause spasm. It is especially important not to forget about drinking after vomiting. But do not drink a lot of water at once, especially if vomiting is severe and frequent. If well tolerated, resorption of pieces of ice will help to improve well-being with nausea;
  • Drink plenty of fluids containing electrolytes whenever possible: weak green tea, clear broth, apple juice, sports drinks with vitamins and minerals;
  • If there is cola syrup in the refrigerator (usually found in soft drinks), it can help calm the stomach and normalize the digestive tract;

Avoid drinks that contain caffeine, sugar, carbon dioxide, and acidic ingredients.

Medicines for vomiting

Pharmacies sell over-the-counter drugs that will help in the fight against nausea, vomiting and the consequences of vomiting:

  1. Dimenhydrinate is a drug that improves the functioning of the gastrointestinal tract. This remedy is recommended by doctors to get rid of nausea and indigestion;
  2. Regidron is a saline solution that will help normalize the water and electrolyte balance and prevent dehydration.
  3. Polysorb is an adsorbent that will bind and remove toxins that could cause poisoning or intoxication.

If vomiting and nausea do not go away on their own within 2 days, seek immediate medical attention.

Be healthy and take care of your loved ones!

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How to stop vomiting yourself – Lifehacker



May 2, 2022

In some situations, medical assistance is necessary.

Vomiting is a protective reflex of the body, which in this way gets rid of substances that irritate the digestive tract. It can be poor-quality food, alcohol or medicines.

Sometimes vomiting with or without nausea occurs due to various illnesses. For example, pathologies of the liver and gallbladder, dysfunction of the thyroid and pancreas, brain diseases.

Sometimes the reflex occurs due to motion sickness, severe pain, migraine, brain tumor or after chemotherapy. Vomiting may occur in pregnant women in the first trimester due to toxicosis.

When to see a doctor

Call 911 urgently if vomiting is accompanied by the following symptoms:

  • chest pain;
  • severe abdominal pain or cramps;
  • blurred vision;
  • weakness and dizziness;
  • high temperature;
  • smell of feces or feces in vomit;
  • anal bleeding;
  • green or bloody vomit;
  • severe headache never experienced;
  • signs of dehydration – thirst, dry mouth, infrequent urination and dark urine.

Make an appointment with your doctor if vomiting and nausea persist for more than two days, for a child under two years old for more than 24 hours, and for an infant for more than 12 hours. You will also need a consultation if nausea or vomiting persists for more than a month or if you are losing weight.

How to stop vomiting yourself

Usually nothing needs to be done, it will go away on its own. To alleviate the condition, doctors recommend:

  • Drink plenty of fluids. This will help you stay hydrated. Not only pure water is suitable, but also any cold, transparent and even carbonated drinks with a sour taste. For example, ginger ale or lemonade. Peppermint tea helps some, it suppresses the gag reflex. And in the pharmacy you can buy special saline solutions for rehydration.
  • Avoid strong odors and other irritants. They can increase vomiting. People often get worse from smoke, perfumes, the aroma of food, being in stuffy and damp rooms. Also, vomiting can increase the flickering of light and driving a car.
  • Eat light food. It can be jellies, crackers, toast, later cereals, fruits, salty and protein-rich and carbohydrate foods can be added to the diet. But it is better to leave spicy and fatty until the moment of recovery.