Is it worth the Salt? People are concerned of late about the “sugar” in their bodies.

Atleast the most common words said by those in the mid-age group are “enakku sugar irukku”, meaning that they are now having a symptom of diabetes. One of my friends is prone to cramps while sleeping and that occurs on his left foot either in the toes or at the joints of the heel. It was strange that it should occur in the sleep, because the brain rests at a stage where sleep specialists term it as theta stage. Since these terms were quite new to me I began to question the occurrence of cramps in the body. The explanation given to me by sports medicine specialist was an eye opener. It is basically that a shortened and flexed muscle contracts further and cause the pain which may continue for an hour at times. There are varied causes that may induce cramps, like medicines, dehydration due to either alcoholic intake or lesser intake of water, menstrual processes and cirrhosis of the liver, renal functionalities. Our native medicine system had a wonderful way to treat cramps. During the summer a “paanagam” was served to withstand the humid and dry conditions, essentially made up of jiggery, water, salt and “sukku” or dried ginger. In the water months a hot sukku kaapi (does not denote coffee- yet is called kaapi!) was served. During the Chithirai Festival Madurai has scores of “thanneer pandhals” offering buttermilk laced with salt, lime juice and paanagam. The effect of these liquid servings had tremendous and demonstrative effect on the body- instant energizing of the body and dehydration driven away. The body would have immediate access to potassium, sodium and calcium required adequately to ward off the cramps. On the contrary, excessive salt intake can also cause distress, the doctor added. Since the kidneys cannot cope up the salt levels, especially for those are prone to heart diseases and children, the salt intake should be moderated he suggested. What exactly is the balance is the next thing which comes in the mind. There are several suggestions when it is probed on, whereas every individual has set of genetic bearings which guide for the intake of salt and sugar. For long, a “goli” soda and lime spiced with salt and sugar has long been the panacea for an instant rehydration. For those super-conscious about their health, this intake has been long been thought as a not worthwhile intake. An alarming fact is that most processed foods have common salt as their preservative, which accounts for more than 90% of the sodium in it. Substances such as Monosodium glutamate-a silent killer- which tingles the craving for foods, added in instant noodles, is a bane for growing up children. He summed it up, home cooked food is far ahead in moderation than the instant foods. Who eats “slow” food these days, he sighed. Salary comes from salarium, which means worth the salt. “Ubbi vittavarai ullavarai ninai”, is a small twist to the Tamizh proverb. Animals need salt licks. Do humans need more salt? Think and you will get your salt’s worth. Ramesh.R.Gopal

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