June 12, 2011

Don't hold the salt

Much in the way that cholesterol levels have an assumed (but not a proven) causal link to dropping dead, so too, salt has long had bad press.  

Hypertension kills people, apparently; one of those eerily silent destroyers of the human body, but before it kills, salt is traditionally the first victim:  as in - remove salt from your diet, or you will die

Not so, according to the latest:
A new study found that low-salt diets increase the risk of death from heart attacks and strokes and do not prevent high blood pressure, but the research’s limitations mean the debate over the effects of salt in the diet is far from over. 
The investigators found that the less salt people ate, the more likely they were to die of heart disease  ... they were no more likely to develop hypertension. 

“If the goal is to prevent hypertension” with lower sodium consumption, said the lead author, Dr. Jan A. Staessen, a professor of medicine at the University of Leuven, in Belgium, “this study shows it does not work.” 

Dr. Alderman said, the new study is not the only one to find adverse effects of low-sodium diets. His own study, with people who had high blood pressure, found that those who ate the least salt were most likely to die. 

Dr. Alderman said that he once was an unpaid consultant for the Salt Institute but that he now did no consulting for it or for the food industry and did not receive any support or take any money from industry groups. 

Lowering salt consumption, Dr. Alderman said, has consequences beyond blood pressure. It also, for example, increases insulin resistance, which can increase the risk of heart disease.
“Diet is a complicated business,” he said. “There are going to be unintended consequences.”
“Observational studies tell you what people will experience if they select a diet,” Dr. Alderman said. “They do not tell you what will happen if you change peoples’ sodium intake.” 

What is needed, Dr. Alderman said, is a large study in which people are randomly assigned to follow a low-sodium diet or not and followed for years to see if eating less salt improves health and reduces the death rate from cardiovascular disease. 
“The low-salt advocates suggest that all 300 million Americans be subjected to a low-salt diet. But if they can’t get people on a low-salt diet for a clinical trial, what are they talking about?” 
As is most often the case, the study method has been criticised.  

Meanwhile, first world populations becomes ever more dithery over how to feed and hydrate themselves, yet, as seen by the collective weight gain, eat and drink quite a lot.

Low salt diet ineffective


  1. Solomon7:59 PM

    Pretty sure my body is capable enough of processing, metabolising and expelling salt enough that it's not going to cause me any grief even in large doses. If I'm so fragile that it can't then I'm not really a person, I'm a chrysanthemum, or a slug.

    I'm not so sure about the other poisons I've ingested all these years.

  2. Even chrysanthemums benefit from the occasional dose of Epsom salts.