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Mar 11
You ARE what you eat: Salt Awareness Week 2021

By: Lunga Memela (Communication Engagement Lead) 

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The theme of this year's World Salt Awareness Week is 'More Flavour, Less Salt', which probes the global community to really reconsider the repercussions of unhealthy diets. Unhealthy eating habits can give way to what could be preventable illnesses, such as high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, osteoporosis, stomach cancer, kidney disease, renal stones and obesity, according to the international organisation World Action on Salt, Sugar and Health (WASSH). In the age of COVID-19, it goes without saying that comorbidities must be avoided at all cost.

Let's be honest, we all have that one friend who never fails to ask: 'Won't you please pass me salt', sometimes even before they've tasted their meal. Others will make subtle remarks about the food having been good 'but maybe too bland', and the really ardent will jump at the opportunity to add more salt and vinegar to their fries, or sprinkle more salt onto their restaurant steak or Shisanyama portions, not considering that the long-term overconsumption of salt poses high risk to their health. Caution!

The honest truth

As families spend more time cooking at home than eating out due to COVID-19 lockdown regulations, perhaps discussions around the table should also include salt reduction, healthy diets and healthy lifestyle options. The World Health Organization (WHO) explains that noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) are chronic diseases, which tend to be of long duration and are the result of a combination of genetic, physiological, environmental and behavioural factors. Tobacco use, physical inactivity, the harmful use of alcohol and unhealthy diets all increase the risk of dying from an NCD, WHO cautions. For instance, 11 March is observed as World Kidney Day, so here's how to learn to live well with kidney disease. A slight alteration to salt intake should surely contribute positively to our livelihoods, at least as a behavioural modification?

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The New Daily recently published an article, Australians still failing to keep this silent killer out of their diets. It leaves no question as to whether a salt reduction revolution is needed. The South African government highlights that World Salt Awareness Week is to educate members of the public that salt can damage their health and it is linked to serious health conditions such as stroke and heart failure.

The time has come to #ActOnNCDs and perhaps a good start is to actively reduce salt intake within our daily diets. National Nutrition Advisor, Lily Henderson, shares the following steps to help reduce your daily salt intake:

  • Choose whole, unprocessed foods and eat plenty of vegetables and fruit.
  • Check food labels before you buy to help you choose less salty options.
  • Take salt and salty sauces off the table so younger family members won’t develop the habit of adding salt.
  • Use herbs, spices, garlic and citrus in place of salt to add flavour to your food during cooking and at the table.
  • Cut back on processed meats, smoked foods and salty takeaways.

It is important to note that the
United Nations (UN) General Assembly designated 2021 the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables (IYFV), which is a unique opportunity to raise awareness on the important role of fruits and vegetables in human nutrition, food security and health and as well in achieving UN Sustainable Development Goals.


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