A Grain Of Salt Restriction.
Decades worth of anti-salt fear mongering has made sodium restriction a very common thing today, and unfortunately it is probably true that those who could benefit the most from increasing their intake, also tend to suffer the most from limitation.
Lack of convincing scientific evidence aside however (for any real benefit from low salt diets), it seems likely that recommendations to reduce salt intake – down to potentially dangerously low levels – will not be going away any time soon.
This kind of daily sodium intake is well within the realms of what has been shown not only to be unsafe, but to also be associated with little in the way of real evidence of actual long term health benefits.
On the contrary, experimental evidence suggests that in patients with heart failure or type 2 diabetes, a low sodium diet worsens cardiovascular prognosis, increasing the likelihood of death.
“The low sodium diet caused increased mortality and heart failure hospitalizations versus a normal sodium diet in patients with…heart failure. These results have been verified across multiple randomized controlled trials”
It has recently been confirmed that low sodium diets worsen cardiovascular disease outcomes – as well as increasing the risk of dying – and this was not seen to be dependent on issues relating to hypertension or blood pressure levels in general.
“In our analysis, the association between low sodium intake (<3 g/day) and increased cardiovascular disease and mortality was consistent, irrespective of baseline hypertension status and after further adjustment for blood pressure level indicating that mechanisms unrelated to blood pressure might be operational.”
From a more rational physiological perspective, it would appear that the theory behind the restriction of salt consumption as a means to lowering blood pressure (for the sake of health) is highly misleading and counterproductive.
Insufficient dietary sodium intake stimulates the renin-angiotensin system, causing an increase in the production of aldosterone, which in turn reduces the amount of sodium lost in sweat and urine. This comes at the expense of an increased loss of the electrolytes potassium and magnesium (even calcium), contributing to inflammation and heart failure amongst other things.
“…in this study, we showed Na intake affected the balances of Na, K, Ca and Mg with an intake of about 55-65mg of Na per kg of body weight each day being required to maintain a positive balance of these minerals.”
In fact, sodium restriction, by stimulating the production of aldosterone, causes constriction of blood vessels, likely leading to an increase in blood pressure. Rising levels of aldosterone have been shown to be connected to a variety of issues relating to metabolic interference.
“Emerging evidence supports a paradigm shift in our understanding of the renin–angiotensin–aldosterone system and in aldosterone’s ability to promote insulin resistance and participate in the pathogenesis of the metabolic syndrome and resistant hypertension.”
Rather than focusing obsessively on blood pressure and on misguided ideas regarding the limiting of salt intake, it makes far more sense to start considering the factors (especially those relating to diet) which promote stress and prevent proper thyroid function and healthy metabolic energy production.
“….even with the use of blood pressure as a surrogate marker of benefit…a focus on food and dietary patterns that provide adequate potassium, calcium, and magnesium create a more meaningful blood pressure effect and do not pose the potential harm of very low sodium intakes.”
An under active thyroid metabolism is usually accompanied with a rise in estrogen and both of these factors typically lead to a loss of salt as well as an abnormal increase in retention of water.
Increasing salt intake works with thyroid to improve energy systems, helping to stabilise blood sugar, lowering adrenalin as well as the associated stress substances (cortisol, estrogen and serotonin), helping your whole system work more efficiently and in a manner which is better able to protect against rapid aging and disease.
It would appear as though those who might benefit most from an increased intake of sodium (beyond the requirements of a healthy population) – including the elderly and others exposed to high levels of stress and with under active metabolic function – are even more likely to be receiving misguided advice heavily promoting salt restriction.
“The recommended intakes….have direct implications for hospitalized patients, nursing home residents, and school feeding programs and other government-funded feeding programs that must adhere to these guidelines.”
Insufficient salt intake in the context of conditions that increase sweating and promote the loss of far greater amounts of sodium than is likely the case under more regular conditions (up to as much as 30g/day) – and particularly when it is common for a lot of water to be consumed – can be exceedingly risky.
“…athletic trainers and other sports medicine professionals…need to recognize the potential for the vast range of sodium losses…so that individual fluid and electrolyte needs can be appropriately met.”
In order to meet what has been suggested by studies to be the minimum basic daily sodium requirements of between approximately 4-6 g/day – before even considering greater metabolic needs – one would have to consume the equivalent of 10-15g of salt over the day, or alternatively somewhere around 15-20g of sodium bicarb.
In the case of those with stress related issues and suppressed metabolic function – translating one way or another into an under performing thyroid metabolism where more sodium can be lost – extra salt (as much as 20-30 g/day sometimes more) can potentially be needed to help protect against stress and normalise energy systems.
A diet supplementing with sufficient amounts of salt and ensuring increased intake of potassium, calcium and magnesium – from dairy products, coffee, chocolate, sweet ripe juicy fruits and fruit juices – is one rational approach to improving metabolic function, as well as protection from the related diseases of inflammation and degeneration.
Increased consumption of sodium can help to suppress stress, reducing inflammation and supporting improvement in thyroid function and the efficient production of metabolic energy. This can help with many different symptoms including mood related issues and sleep quality as well as general protection against the diseases of aging and degeneration, such as diabetes and heart disease. It has been shown to work so well, one might wonder why it is yet to be banned.
See more here
Image: ArtOfTypH: “A Salt With A Deadly Weapon:W.I.P”