Low Salt Diet

Many physicians have recommended a low salt diet for those with high blood pressure or other risks for cardiac disease. Let’s examine this hot topic.

Sodium helps maintain water balance in the body, passes back and forth between cell membranes, carrying nutrients (such as glucose) in and carrying waste products out, and aids in balancing blood pressure and heartbeat.

Salt is a mineral and has been linked to heart disease and high blood pressure in the general population. Estimates are that only 10% of the population benefit from a low salt diet. This group of folks have been defined as ‘salt sensitive’.

Some experts believe that other mineral deficiencies may be a factor in people that have a salt sensitivity, rather than sodium alone. Deficiencies in other minerals such as potassium, magnesium and calcium, may be other causes of high blood pressure.

Common table salt, like most other processed foods, may not provide your body with the sodium it needs. Consider using a sea salt from the health food store. It's a higher concentration of sodium so you tend to use less to get the same flavor. Even some sea salts found in the grocery stores have been over processed. If it’s not white, but has some color (light yellowish) then it’s more likely to be in it’s natural state.

Speaking of flavor, as we age our taste buds may change in intensity and quality. When sweets change to bitter, or salt cannot be detected, people find themselves changing their food preferences to adapt. Many things can change tastes, from smoking to prescription medications, to hydration levels. Yes, even not drinking enough water will determine whether your dry taste bud can even sense the taste! A low salt diet may not bother you if you increase your water intake.

About 75% of salt intake is from salt added during food processing, rather than from salt added during or after cooking. Increasing consumption of unprocessed foods, fruits, vegetables, and legumes will naturally lower salt intake.

One study in 88,517 middle-aged women followed for 24 years found that eating a DASH-style diet significantly lowered risk for heart disease and stroke. DASH mostly includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, poultry, fish, nuts, and low-fat dairy products. Being quite a bit higher in potassium, calcium and protein, and lower in fat, and cholesterol than the standard american diet, it maintains the usual sodium content.

There have been studies done on supplementing with sodium for decades. Here are a just a few of the topics that have been studied and can be found in medical journals that date back to the 1980’s. These are titles, not links.

Prevention of amphotericin B-induced renal impairment. A review on the use of sodium supplementation.

Oral rehydration solution containing 90 millimol sodium is safe and useful in treating diarrhoea in severely malnourished children.

Restoration of water and electrolyte balance after exercise.

Sequential sodium therapy allows correction of sodium-volume balance and reduces morbidity.

A low salt diet, if you are salt sensitive, will reduce your blood pressure. If you have been on a salt restriction and it has not helped, then talk with your physician.

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Reference from the Linus Pauling Institute: Low Sodium Diet: Studies

What kind? Sea salt? Table salt? Kosher salt?

Salt Reference

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