Shaking up the Salt Myth: The Dangers of Salt Restriction | Chris Kresser

Shaking up the Salt Myth: The Dangers of Salt Restriction

by Chris Kresser

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“In an era when dietary advice is dispensed freely by virtually everyone from public health officials to personal trainers, well-meaning relatives, and strangers on check-out lines, one recommendation has rung through three decades with the indisputable force of gospel: Eat less salt and you will lower your blood pressure and live a longer, healthier life.” Gary Taubes, 1998

 

In my last two articles, I discussed the history of salt in the human diet and the physiological need for salt. Many proponents of the Paleo diet suggest limiting salt based on evidence of low salt intake during the Paleolithic era. This limitation meshes with recommendations made by various health organizations, such as the USDA and the American Heart Association, who suggest limiting sodium to at least 2,300 mg per day and even as little as 1,500 mg per day. (1, 2) And if our Paleolithic ancestors ate a low salt diet, then it certainly must be healthy, right?

Not necessarily. Recently, evidence has been mounting against universal salt restriction guidelines. A low-salt diet may cause serious health consequences and higher overall mortality, especially in the presence of certain chronic health conditions and lifestyle factors. In this article, I will discuss scientific evidence that contradicts salt restriction recommendations, as well as potential health risks of consuming a diet too low in salt.

Serious health consequences of long-term salt restriction

While salt-induced hypertension is typically blamed as a cause of heart disease, a low salt intake is associated with higher mortality from cardiovascular events.

A 2011 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association demonstrates a low-salt zone where stroke, heart attack and death are more likely. (3) Compared with moderate sodium excretion, there was an association between low sodium excretion and cardiovascular (CVD) death and hospitalization for coronary heart failure. These findings demonstrate the lowest risk of death for sodium excretion between 4 and 5.99 grams per day. (Figure 1.)

Figure 1. Estimated 24-Hour Urinary Excretion of Sodium and Composite of Cardiovascular Death, Stroke, Myocardial Infarction, and Hospitalization for Congestive Heart Failure

Another 2011 study confirmed this observation; not only was lower sodium excretion associated with higher CVD mortality, but baseline sodium excretion did not predict the incidence of hypertension, and any associations between systolic pressure and sodium excretion did not translate into less morbidity or improved survival. (4) Low salt diets contribute to an increase in hormones and lipids in the blood. A 2012 study in the American Journal of Hypertension found that people on low-salt diets developed higher plasma levels of renin, cholesterol, and triglycerides. (5) The authors concluded that the slight reduction in blood pressure was overshadowed by these antagonistic effects, and that sodium restriction may have net negative effects at a population level.

In addition, low sodium intake is associated with poor outcomes in Type 2 diabetes. A 2011 study study showed people with Type 2 diabetes are more likely to die prematurely on a low-salt diet, due to higher all-cause and cardiovascular mortality. (6) Additionally, a 2010 Harvard study linked low-salt diets to an immediate onset of insulin resistance, a precursor to Type 2 Diabetes. (7) These studies call into question the appropriateness of guidelines advocating salt restriction for patients with Type 2 diabetes.

Restricting salt is also problematic for athletes, particularly those participating in endurance sports. (8) Recent studies have shown that endurance athletes commonly develop low blood sodium, or hyponatremia, even in the absence of cognitive symptoms. In the 2002 Boston Marathon, it was found that 13% of 488 runners studied had hyponatremia, and studies of other endurance events have reported the incidence of hyponatremia to be up to 29%. (9101112)  While the majority of these sodium deficient athletes are asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic with nausea and lethargy, severe manifestations such as cerebral edema, noncardiogenic pulmonary edema, and death can occur. (13) It is extremely important that athletes engaging in high intensity or long duration exercise be sure they adequately replace the salt lost through sweat.

Salt restriction may be especially dangerous for the elderly. Elderly people with hyponatremia have more falls and broken hips and a decrease in cognitive abilities. (1415) Hyponatremia is a common finding in the elderly, with an especially high prevalence in those with acute illness. (16) This is another population at risk for serious health consequences due to universal sodium restriction.

Why is the government still recommending salt restriction?

Conventional healthcare experts have been recommending salt restriction ever since the 1970s, when Lewis Dahl established “proof” that salt causes hypertension. (17)  In his research, he induced high blood pressure in rats by feeding them the human equivalent of over 500 grams of sodium a day; 50 times more than the average intake in the western world. (181920) Dahl also invoked evidence that cultures consuming higher levels of salt tend to have higher blood pressure than those who consume less salt. (21)

Figure 2. Correlation of average daily salt (NaCl) intakes with prevalence of hypertension in different geographic areas and among different races, from Dahl, 2005

However, when Intersalt researchers investigated this possible association, while controlling for confounding factors, the correlation between blood pressure and salt intake almost disappeared. (2223) For some reason, this contradictory evidence is still being used today to justify restricting salt intake.

In 1998, Gary Taubes wrote an article for Science magazine highlighting the clash of public policy with controversial scientific evidence for salt reduction. (24) He described how most of scientific discord over salt reduction has been overshadowed by the public attention given to the benefits of avoiding salt.

As Taubes explained over a decade ago, “the data supporting universal salt reduction have never been compelling, nor has it ever been demonstrated that such a program would not have unforeseen negative side effects.”

The 1988 Intersalt Study, designed to resolve contradictions in ecological and epidemiological studies, failed to demonstrate any linear relationship between salt intake and blood pressure.

Now, in 2012, we have data that suggests long-term salt restriction may pose serious risks for much of the population. Yet major health organization guidelines still recommend the restriction of salt for all Americans, regardless of blood pressure status.

In short, there is a healthy range of salt consumption for most people. When eating a whole foods diet, most people tend to consume an appropriate amount of salt simply due to an innate preference for saltiness.

In fact, the consumption of salt around the world for over two centuries has remained in the range of 1.5 to three teaspoons per day, which appears to hold the lowest risk for disease. (25)

Our bodies may have a natural sodium appetite through which our ideal salt intake is regulated. By following a whole foods, Paleo diet, and eliminating processed foods, excess sodium in your diet will be drastically reduced. Thus, you can be confident in following your own natural taste for salt when adding it to your food during preparation. In other words, there are few reasons to deprive yourself of salt!

In my next article, I will discuss the conditions in which salt reduction may be warranted, and nutrients that may be more important than sodium in controlling blood pressure and promoting overall health.

221 Comments

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  1. I am 72 almost 73 and am suffering quite badly from Atrial Fibrillation. I am fighting off the doctor’s insistence on an ACE inhibitor and Beta Blacker, but I have reluctantly started on an anti-coagulant (Apixaban/Eliquis). I have noticed that my AF seems worse if I reduce my carbo-hydrate consumption, which is very annoying as I am trying to lose weight. My brief experiments with non-starchy veg with a little meat (stir fry or ratatouille) produced encouraging results. But now I have accidentally ‘overdosed’ on salt by using what I thought was a pepper mill into a baked bean filling I was brewing up for use on jacket potatoes. The pepper mill turned out to be a salt mill, and since baked beans are already loaded with salt, I couldn’t eat much of the resulting mess. However, a few hours later I felt much stronger and my heart rate was more normal. I have since tried using a salt shaker when eating out, also with good results. I wish I could somehow narrow down the effect so I could gauge just how much to use.

  2. I was impressed with Chris’ article. Free thinkers get my attention. Makes sense about low salt/high salt controversy. I am increasing my salt intake by using the salt shaker. However, I do not eat processed salt. I eat Himalayan salt, etc. I eat 75% whole, very healthy foods. No processed, no fast food…

  3. My brother has type 2 d. In the past year he has had problems with not being able to urinate and just having constant bm’s and ends up in er having to have a catheter in order to relieve himself. Doctors don’t know what problem is but he figured it was salt intake cause it happens when he has eaten a hot dog of Chinese food. He really has to watch it cause it doesn’t take much. blood pressure is good and he is pretty good at watching what he eats cause of the type 2 d. Is there anything that can be done to not have this problem. When this happens it is usually very late at night early morning.

    • How exactly do you conclude salt from chinese food/hot dogs? Those have plenty of other ingredients that could be culprits instead. Why doesn’t he try just eating his normal diet with extra salt to confirm it’s even salt?

      • I guess because doctors can’t figure it out so he changed diet to even lower contents of salt and the problem he had hasn’t happened again That’s why he figured it was salt. Maybe you can give a suggestion as to what it could be.

    • I am a type 2 diabetic. I was getting weak kidney function, but over the last 4 weeks have been increasing my salt intake and my kidney function is improving. It is still early days but I am beginning to see a glimmer of other benefits too. My blood pressure is fine, my sight has improved a little, I have lost the saggy skin under my chin and elsewhere, my skin is looking great, my digestion has improved a lot, and I am sleeping more soundly.

      I eat a good whole food high plant diet with some eggs and chicken but no wheat/gluten and keep my refined sugar intake to a minimum. Despite eating a fair amount of fruit and some starchy veg – usually viewed as anathema in the diabetic community, my insulin resistance has improved somewhat and I actually need a quarter less insulin than I did when eating HFLC/Paleo. I am hoping that will further improve on the salt as my body dumps the toxins it is clogged with (from years of eating lower but processed salt). Certainly my body is beginning to detox and digest and absorb nutrition much better now since increasing the salt.

      When I say salt, I mean REAL salt. Good, natural, complete, unprocessed, unrefined Celtic Sea Salt, not nasty processed table salt that has been stripped of all its protective and supportive electrolytic minerals and trace elements.

      It annoys me that incomplete refined salt is even called salt. True salt is rich in different electrolytes, stripped refined salt isn’t.

  4. All of you arguing over how much better the “natural” sodium and chloride are in plants are killing me. The most basic of chemistry classes quickly puts that fantasy to rest. Sodium is sodium. Now, that isn’t to say that *equal masses* of sodium are equivalent. Table salt, or very pure NaCl readily dissociates into its ions under the right conditions, however the sodium in living things potentially occurs bound in many compounds of differing affinities. However, I like to think of salt with the same (and pardon the pun) grain of salt that we should have considered dietary cholesterol with all these years. The simplest and most obvious truth is that, as in all things, over-indulgence is likely bad, absolute abstinence is likely worse, and moderation is golden. So, reviewing the actual evidence of the role of low sodium diets on hypertension leads one to conclude that adherence to low-sodium diets potentially decreases systolic blood pressure in otherwise normotensive patients by less than 4mmHg (at absolute most), and grossly hypertensive patients (those with systolic blood pressures >170) by absolutely no more than 7mmHg. Keep in mind that Cochrane did a systematic review that found that low-sodium diets only resulted in an average 1mmHg reduction in systolic BP with a negligible effect on diastolic.

    Going back to the cholesterol point, we were told for decades to avoid dietary cholesterol because the arterial plaques are predominantly composed of cholesterol. Scientists, pundits, and concerned citizens blithely ignored all that pesky (and significant) data that showed that blood cholesterol was minimally correlated to dietary cholesterol. So for decades we heard “eggs are bad” “no, people who eat eggs are fine!”, “no, you’re wrong because eggs are loaded with cholesterol!”. Now, after decades of pushing a diet we *never* had any evidence to support, the national heart organizations have finally dropped restricting dietary cholesterol from their recommendations. Instead, they now recommend statins for reducing cholesterol in people with elevated blood levels because they’ve finally, FINALLY, have accepted that high blood cholesterol is overwhelmingly the result of individuals being genetically more likely to simply make much more of it than their bodies require. I work in cardiology, can you guess how many times I’ve heard other nurses and physicians tell our patients to avoid foods high in cholesterol?

    Lastly, these stupid fad diets are literally killing us. The original AHA diets shifted people away from healthy, naturally-occurring fats to highly-processed, carbohydrate-laden foods. Even with the incredible, and I mean absolutely *breathtaking* advances in how we medically treat patients with coronary artery disease, heart attacks, and congestive heart failure, there is no reason heart disease should be the number 1 killer in America.

    • Your right, salt is salt is salt…. No matter where you get it from, it’s the same thing.

      On cholesterol, again your right. Dietary cholesterol has little or nothing to do with your serum cholesterol. Maybe if you have familial hyperlipidemia it might have an impact, but otherwise no. Sames goes for statins, in that they are mostly useless unless you have familial hyperlipidemia.

      On AMA/AHA recommended diets, right again. The low fat high carb crap is what is currently killing most Americans. Not salt, not fat. It is almost impossible to buy any “processed” food that hasn’t had HFCS or some form of sugar (or sugar like starch) added to it.

      Well, I for one can attest that eliminating carbohydrates from your diet will make your blood pressure drop dramatically. As well as the excess fat, and other bad things (like the severe edema that I “use to have” in my legs).

      I had a resting BP of 160/90 to 165/96 a few years ago when I weighed nearly 300 pounds. The edema in my legs & feet were so bad I couldn’t stand for more than a few hours. I tried exercise (for over a year), standard caloric restriction, & limiting salt, nothing worked to lower my weight or had any significant impact on my BP.

      Upon advice from my doctor, I did an Atkins style diet (ketogenic) along with a 5:2 intermittent fasting regiment. I quickly dropped 30 pounds (in 30 days). And although I was actually increasing my intake of salts (NaCl, KCl & magnesium citrate), my BP also dropped dramatically.

      I didn’t know this at first, until I had my wife take my BP one day (after reading in a blog that ketogenic diets drop your BP). In under 2 months my BP had dropped to 130/78. Within 6~7 months it had gotten down to 120/70. That’s a 40+ point systolic drop, and a 25+ point drop on the diastolic with zero drugs (only diet, no exercise).

      I religiously avoid carbs now, but I’m known to just douse food with extra salt. I use Morton lite salt (50/50 NaCl/KCl) not for BP reasons, but because I need the extra potassium (as I can’t eat potatoes or bananas). I probably use even more salt than before this diet, as the excessive amount of water I drink everyday depletes my electrolytes (upwards of 1 gallon per day). My liver requires a lot of water to make ketones, and thirst is a sure sign that I’m in ketosis.

      I don’t think I’m an isolated case, as I’ve read many accounts of other people doing a ketogenic diet having their BP significantly lowered, even while increasing their salt intake.

      I think salt can easily exacerbate high BP, but I don’t think it is the actual cause. It is not unlike when MD’s for years and years told patients with bleeding ulcers that it had to do with stress (and only with stress). The real cause was of course a bacterium called H-pylori. Yes, stress or salt can exacerbate almost any medical condition, including high BP. But it is NOT the root cause (and never was).

  5. I have been reading now for the past half hour all these different comments and replies of all these individuals and think that this one guy Allen, who has been running more than 20 years hit the nail right on the head with his explanation. Therefore I’m of the belief that moderation is the key to this zero salt dilemma. Depending on your activity level, that should dictate the amount of any nutrient your body requires, provided it comes from the best of sources, and if you feel healthy in how you live and feed your body then that should be your goal. Read Allen’s article and you should get a pretty good idea.

  6. Salt is also a disinfectant – low salt will cause all kinds of infections, viral, fungal, bacterial of vital organs such as lungs, kidneys & skin

    • Complete and utter rubbish. Salt is irrelevant to the human metabolism.

      No doubt like many before you, the myth that salt is a requisite, is endlessly repeated by people unable to understand basic English grammar. SALTS or electrolytes are essential to a human metabolism. NaCl or salt is not essential

      • Animals I’ve sheep camels and other types like rocks to get their salt and get sick with out doing so, we are in the animal group is we are neither vegetable nor mineral.

        • Which is totally meaningless! The body needs no salt or NaCl or sodium chloride whatsoever, it is complete rubbish spouted by people who have no understanding of the fact that the body needs *SALTS* ie sodium, potassium, magnesium, chloride etc etc. These are salts that the body requires, there is no requirement for salt ie NaCl whatsoever, it is a myth the toxic salt industry loves to promote and doctors health practitioners have swallowed the hook and repeat this rubbish ad infinitum.
          The word salt and the term *SALTS* are not interchangeable, even if you incorrectly use them so.

            • Exactly Ally. Not only that, they are used by the body in the greatest quantity. So yes it is a great idea to SALTS your food with NaCl or sea salt…. whatever you want to call it, because it’s the same thing! Henry is either very confused or a bit insane.

  7. I can’t help but think that theae studies are promoted and skewed by the very companies that make processed food like Monsanto. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, just keep digesting those large amounts of sodium. The average person who eats out a lot and eats process prepaired foods are on average consuming about 7500 mg of sodium per day. That is the true silent killer. First your kidneys, then your arteries, then other vital organs including the brain by means of stroke.

    • JZ,

      No sooner had my 78 year old father adopted a very low sodium diet that he began experiencing distressing health issues. Edema ensued and quickly after cellulitis, hospitalizing him for six days. Then came the kidney damage. Interestingly he was in pretty fine health before the severe salt restriction, which he pursued on his own accord without his doctor’s advice.

      • The body does not need sodium chloride ie NaCl or salt. It is a complete myth that the body needs salt. It needs SALTS and they are not interchangeable terms.

        • So you keep saying, but if you stop to notice, the body needs both sodium and chloride for electrolytes. Table salt is just the two of those together.

          • So what? You aren’t concluding anything other than NaCl is not essential. So what’s your point other than the obvious, which makes no difference to the outcome that NaCl is not essential to the human metabolism.

            • I’m not saying that table salt is the be all and end all, or that it is a necessity. I’m simply saying that table salt is a valid way to get those two essential electrolytes. It’s not the only way, but neither is it a terrible thing to be avoided at all costs as you seem to be suggesting. You are adamant that sodium and chloride are essentials (and science agrees), yet you are saying that table salt should be avoided when, in fact, table salt is nothing more than those two essential electrolytes combined. My point is simply that some people will get some of their sodium and chloride from table salt, and as long as it’s not being used to excess, that’s ok. You may not desire to get your sodium and chloride from table salt, and that’s ok too. There’s more than one way to be healthy. Literally my only point. Not trying to prove that table salt is something it isn’t.

            • Our bodies are made of salt water telling people they don’t need salt is wrong and dangerous. When we talk about drinking salt water we aren’t talking about table salt , its Celtic salt or Himalayan salt.

  8. Does a non- salt diet contribute to the kidneys (not bladder) making so much more urine….due to the needs of the blood to balance out the salt in the body? (that is low) I am 77, urinate about 15 times in a 24 hour period. I run 3 miles 5/6 days per week, lift weights daily, train judo and taekwondo have never smoked nor drank alcohol. I am 5 8, weigh 138 lbs…and my blood pressure is always 105/115 over 60/68 with a resting heart rate of 42 to 47. Thank you for helping!!!!

    • “Does a non- salt diet contribute to the kidneys making so much more urine….due to the needs of the blood to balance out the salt in the body?”

      If a non salt diet is the case, why pose an answer that involves blood balancing out the (non existent) salt in the body?

      • You know what he means. You are being deliberately obtuse. You’re very hung up on sodium vs salt. You could just help by answering the question instead of letting your ego take the wheel.

        • Some people are happy to work with misinformation, try and read in between the lines and then get the diagnosis wrong. My preference is to know exactly what someone means and leave others to cock it up.

      • To answer your question: I assume you are referring to the possibility of a low sodium diet causing you to pee more and the answer is yes. Sodium helps retain water. So if you are on a low salt diet and are not eating enough veggies with natural sodium, you could become deficient and will pee more. Sodium is important to your diet. Salt is not. Hope that helps.

    • Here’s a quick check on whether you are retaining enough water. Squeeze the tip of one of your fingers. If it springs back quickly you are hydrated with sufficient water. If not you are dehydrated. Dehydration can be because of not drinking enough water or urinating too much due to either not ingesting or not retaining enough minerals. I suspect that you aren’t ingesting enough high quality sea salt. High quality sea salt is not white. It contains a lot of minerals beside sodium and chlorine. It acts as a salt lick for humans. I don’t salt my food heavily while cooking or preparing it, about 2-1/4 tsp. per day and a extra 1/2 tsp. with water before going to bed. Sometimes I need a little more. Check with a doctor of functional medicine if you need specific medical treatment advice in this area.

      • Doctor,
        The skin test doesn’t work for me.
        I spend 4 hours in a steam room, but drink 3 litres of water (without added salt or electrolytes) in that time frame, to the point where I feel hydrated and my skin is fine, but I never have to pee so I’m guessing all the water I drink is sweated out. So am I truly staying hydrated?
        Is it true that the water will be sweated straight out through my skin, and won’t be able to be retained in my intestines and colon during such excessive sweating? Will taking salt help to retain water in my digestive system?
        Because I do have digestive issues, bloating, water retention and just recently developed acne, itching and some nerve problems, which I’m pretty sure are all related to electrolyte imbalances, which I do have a history of due to being so athletic. And also my lifestlye is very active, aside from the sweating I do in steam rooms. I even work out before I do that. The acne and itching I think are detox symptoms (because it only gets better if I drink tons of water) that happen as a result of my body being forced to flush out toxins, but I don’t think it’s able to flush out enough toxins because I’m not retaining enough water into my colon. And from what I understand most toxins and waste are removed through feces. I might sweat a lot during that time, but none of it is leaving my body through urine or bowel movements. And by the time I get home, I’m usually hungry so I eat a large meal and don’t really feel like drinking much more water for the rest of the day, so I don’t have a bowel movement or pee for the rest of the day.

  9. Any dietary advice, including the safety of salt, can mean life or death to a heart patient, and this sweeping advice can be dangerous to the wrong person.

    To add another anecdote to the pile, my otherwise healthy and young husband is preparing for heart surgery in 4 weeks to treat sudden heart failure. While he is encouraged to continue to consume low amounts of sodium (which is present in almost every food), he is entirely restricted from salt. Even a pinch of salt is considered a danger to him. There will come a day when he is on the mend and he CAN have a small amount of salt in his diet, there will never be a day when he MUST consume salt. No one NEEDS salt. So sayeth a cardiologist and, separately, a leading heart surgeon in Los Angeles.

    • “No one NEEDS salt.”

      ding, ding. Sodium is needed – salt is not. Salt happens to have sodium in it, which is why people think they need salt. Sodium is naturally in whole, raw foods. If “salt” was needed that badly, most raw vegans (for example) would be dropping dead.

    • I’m sure she said this after asking his diet and because people eat so much processed or packaged food nowadays salt isnt needed. And because of this it is not needed to be added to your meals on the table or whilst cooking. But the body does need salt just not from the salt cellar

      • The body needs *SALTS* magnesium, sodium, potassium, chloride, etc etc
        The body does not need NaCl or salt or sodium chloride, it is a myth perpetrated by the toxic salt industry.

  10. I too followed the recommendations of a low-salt, low processed food diet. I lost 40 pounds, got a great tan and a lot of compliments, but my father said I looked sick. He was right. I went to the hospital with hyponatremia (too little sodium in the blood), had an IV drip, and the doctor told me I drank too much water. He was wrong. I have Addison’s disease and had many of the symptoms others have described: aching legs, fatigue, low blood pressure, weight loss, vomiting and extreme headache (especially after drinking alcohol), increased skin pigmentation, and in the extreme, coma.

    I’m writing this not to get into the debate on having more or less salt in the diet, but because I think some readers may, like me, have these symptoms for years without a diagnosis of Addison’s. I’ve found that many medical professionals are not very knowledgeable of this somewhat rare condition.

    http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hyponatremia/basics/causes/con-20031445

    • Not surprisingly, the article doesn’t mention the word salt.

      Clearly the article mentions sodium.

      A hospital uses a drip because they buy and sell pharmaceuticals. Though the body may initially use the second rate chemical reaction from the IV drip, this is not the way to maintain a metabolically useful sodium level.

      Over millennia, the body would have almost entirely used plant based sodium.

      Modern living has shown that people do not understand what a wealth of sodium is lying in wait for them in simple vegetables. This sodium is rich, abundant and metabolically usefull over a long term, unlike the toxic industrial chemicalised salt in everyday use.

      IV sodium at best, is a temporary stop gap, with potentially dangerous side effects and yet another crisis in waiting.

      Having too little sodium in the blood can be alleviated on a daily basis by simply consuming raw beetroot and celery.

  11. Don’t natural foods such as meats, fruits, and vegetables contain enough salt already? It seems a bit suspect that we now need to add additional salt to our diets? What other animal needs to do this?

    • Paul, naturally meats, fruits and vegetables, do not contain any NaCl at all. What they do contain is Na, sodium and Cl, chloride.

      These are essential *SALTS* as is potassium, magnesium etc etc. The confusion lies in articles like the ones presented on this site, that omit to clearly define the difference between essential Na and essential Cl and non essential NaCl or salt.

      And no we don’t need more salt at all, what we need are essential *SALTS*.

      • Sodium is not stable unless it is bound to some other element. Pure Sodium Explodes VIOLENTLY when it comes into contact with water. So their is no such thing as unbound sodium in any plant or animal unless it has been placed in it’s ionic form. As you dry it out it will find a neighbor or a protien to bind itself too. Classic chemistry experiment up through the 1990’s was to put pure Sodium into water in chemistry class and what it explode. Exothermic reaction big time! If you bit down on a piece of pure sodium it would explode your teeth and jaw. Look at the difference between heme iron and iron oxide. Either will work in the body but the body has to work harder to convert one than the other into a usable form. What type of ignorant person thinks that sodium chloride presents some challenge to the body to separate and make use of the sodium and the chloride? I can make almost anything into a salt amphetamines are often made into the form of a salt! That does not magically make it good or bad but it sure makes it easier for the body to use it! I can make cyanide into the form of salt but you do not want that in your body! Some of you are talking about chemistry and physiology you clearly do not understand. Your body does not for instance use complete proteins either. Everything you eat get’s hit with acid or alkaline in the stomach then it get’s hit with bile and enzyme and other goodies. Each step breaking apart complex bonds to separate the whole food into it’s micro-nutrients. Different cell’s along the path absorbing different nutrients. The body than takes those individual building blocks not complete anything and builds what it needs to build. If a form is toxic than you have a problem but other than that if it can be broken down it does not matter. Some forms are so hard to break down that you body just does not have the time to break enough down with the resources it has to use what is being taken in but that is another problem. This is what a salt is and is why they say “Salts” in Anatomy and Physiology texts’s since it cover’s all metals and cations: any chemical compound formed from the reaction of an acid with a base, with all or part of the hydrogen of the acid replaced by a metal or other cation. You can turn any metal into a salt!

    • Kell, just because SOME doctors still believe we don’t really NEED (very much) salt, doesn’t make it true! In fact, my mothers doctor recently told her to INCREASE her salt, especially in hotter months, to avoid dehydration – one of the REAL killers of the elderly. She was stunned! She said she drank plenty of water every day, but as it was explained to her, that’s all fine and good, but if your body simply flushes that water out without being able to retain it, it can actually be WORSE because it flushes salts, minerals and other things our body needs. Since INCREASING her salt intake her cholesterol and triglyceride (the bad ones that is) have DROPPED and she is now off the medications for that. So, just because SOME/MANY doctors believe what they were taught from the Government study, doesn’t make it true! So your statement that “No one NEEDS salt.” is MORE dangerous that someone recommending higher levels of salt. Don’t believe me, then just eliminate ALL the salt from YOUR diet and see where it takes you. Oh, and read the NEW studies done by MANY organizations and nations instead of just that one old one that the Government keeps pushing from the testing on rats from the 70’s…

      • I don’t need to try it, I haven’t eaten any sodium chloride for years.

        The truth is that you need salts, not salt. Salt is not essential to life, but salts are. The two words are not interchangeable Doctors are useless at nutrition. Recommending salt, instead of advising that sodium is plentiful in fruits and vegetables, as is chloride, and these are just two of the salts the metabolism requires to function healthily. The amount of first class sodium in celery and beetroot is second to none. Chloride in abundance is also available in plant based food.

        • Unfortunately not everyone eats veggies which are a natural source of sodium. Some people just refuse to eat them. I love them. Sadly those who refuse to eat veggies but then go on a no salt diet may have some issues. Ideally solve that by eating veggies. If you won’t then salt is an option, just not a very good one.

          • Extropian, you are very misinformed. Dairy, animal meats contain sodium, or as Archibald says natural “salts”. Matter of fact, animal meats actually have quite a bit per serving. These numbers/nutrition facts you should look up and educate yourself on them. So I am at a loss for when you say “some people don’t eat vegetables”, I take it you are talking about Eskimos and Zero Carb / Low carb dieters, etc. Otherwise, the only thing that is left, really, are fruitarians – which I won’t go there, other than saying fruit has sodium levels as well. So you must be referring to yourself or dust mites.

      • Alan – I have eliminated salt from my diet and it is not a problem at all. What you can’t eliminate, what you do need, is SODIUM. Sodium is different than salt. Maybe your family member is in the position of needing salt specifically and I can’t attest to that, so you are right that I should not speak so definitively, particularly since I am not a medical professional. What I said was written flippantly as part of a personal anecdote, and was meant to represent my personal experience with my personal doctor.

        But my bigger point, and the point that I actually do care about, was that articles like this making big sweeping statements are harmful. So my comment on a smaller scale could also be harmful, and I will not try to spread the message that everyone’s medical advice should be the same on this issue just because of my personal experience. But this article by a person who is seen as a professional is irresponsible and incomplete.

        And to put it back to personal terms, if my husband didn’t have someone to help him/watch him, and he read this article during a time when he was looking for relief and on a lot of medications that made it difficult to think clearly, he could have had salt at a time when it could have actually killed him. Obviously that is a dramatic statement and I don’t think that people are specifically dying over this article, but I think this is very irresponsible for a supposed expert, and at an emotional time I couldn’t resist commenting so.

        • Kell, you are right. Sodium/natural salts in food is needed, not salt (sea salt, him. pink salt, celtic salt, table salt – whatever salt you want to call it – its not needed!!). People are very misinformed. But things ok, if people want to continue thinking that “salt” is needed, keeping eating processed foods and adding “salt” to your foods……it will lead to issues soon or later, most of which you are unaware of. More people need to die anyways….this world is overpopulated.

    • “What other animal needs to do this?” Umm, only EVERY living animal on earth. Large herds in the days of old used to migrate constantly from places of salt licks to watering holes.

      • No animal or human “needs” salt. It is electrolytes or SALTS that animals and humans need.

        The fact that animals ate addictive sodium chloride and went to a watering hole after proves nothing except that salt would make them thirsty.

        No animal would die without a salt lick, they may of course die if they didn’t consume the correct electrolytes or in other words SALTS.

        The terms salt (non essential) and SALTS (essential) are not interchangeable, despite some people’s misunderstanding of what the correct grammar actually means.

  12. Raw salt is typically 80 to 85 percent Sodium Chloride (NaCL)
    With the rest being trace elements.

    Processed salt, what we typically think of as table salt, is typically 95 to 97 percent sodium with the remaining being trace amount of iodine and the rest flow enhancers. Realize there is virtually no chloride in processed salt.

    Sodium does not equal Sodium Chloride.
    Processed salt is not salt, it is basically sodium.
    A too low salt (NaCL) intake is as high in health danagers as a too high salt (NaCL) intake, it is about balance

    • James I totally agree with your sentiments regarding the separation of terminology regarding sodium and chloride and salt. Concluding you state that:

      “A too low salt (NaCL) intake is as high in health dangers as a too high salt (NaCL) intake, it is about balance”.

      You can have a “too low” sodium intake and you can have a “too low” chloride intake, but not a too low NaCl intake as there is no essential metabolic requirement for the compound NaCl.

      All sodium requirements and all chloride requirements are more than adequately met from plant based foods or the animals that ate the plants. It is a myth that NaCl intake might cause health problems at low doses.

      What is missing, more likely and would cause health problems, is sodium and or chloride, not NaCl.

      • Henry
        To a point I agree with you, if your largest physical exacerbation is twelve ounce curls, you may be correct. However, since my normal work day consists of six to seven hours of sweating from head to toe, yes it is very physical, I do not believe you can simply eat enough to make up the loss. I do temper my additional intake on those days I know I will not be as physically active, Balance
        I do have a problem wrapping my mind around the concept you present the sodium and chlorine (a chloride forms when the chlorine atom gains or loses an electron) exists as independent molecules in plant or animals. Sodium is a soft metal and is extremely reactive (it will burn in water) and does not exists in nature by itself but as a compound with other elements. Chlorine is a gas, although a “ton” (maybe ton is a poor choice here) it also exist as a compound with other elements and not a lone element. I look forward to further discussions as I attempt to understand this concept.

        • James, thanks for courteous reply, I wasn’t emailed responses so apologies for delay in your interest to discuss. your point

          “I do have a problem wrapping my mind around the concept you present the sodium and chlorine exists as independent molecules in plant or animals”

          “Plants face a dilemma about sodium metabolism. Uptake of ubiquitous sodium ions is desirable as a way to build osmotic potential, absorb water and sustain turgor, but excess sodium ions may be toxic. Information from a number of plant species about the proteins involved in sodium-ion uptake helps to explain how plants manage to take in just the right amount.”
          I have taken this from genome biology and wonder if this is relevant to your point regarding sodium molecule uptake in plants?

      • Sir, you blasting comment lends nothing to the discussion except to confirm that when you open your mouth foolishness comes out. If you had taken the time to properly research and present that research, you would have proven that my facts on the make up of processed salt was incorrect and stretch my mind to a new idea, but alas you have failed, not miserably to achieve great things, just failed. Please look at the following article ( ), I did some slicing and dicing on the article but hopefully have kept the intent of it intact.

        Contents of Refined Iodized Salt
        Sodium ≈39%
        Chloride ≈60%
        Ferrocyanide, Up to 2%
        Aluminum Silicate,
        Ammonium Citrate,
        Dextrose
        Iodide .01%
         
        Major Contents of Unrefined Sea Salt (different raw salts may have different trace elements based on where there are mined.)
        Element Mg/1/4 tsp % Element Mg/1/4 tsp %
        Chloride 601.25 50.9 Zinc 0.03 .00275
        Sodium 460 33.00 Copper 0.02 .00195
        Sulfur 9.7 0.820 Erbium 0.02 .00195
        Magnesium 5.2 0.441 Tin 0.02 .00192
        Potassium 2.7 0.227 Manganese 0.02 .0018
        Calcium 1.5 0.128 Cerium 0.02 .00172
        Silicon 1.2 0.052 Fluoride 0.01 .00109
        Carbon 0.6 0.049 Rubidium 0.01 .00084
        Iron 0.14 0.012 Gallium 0.01 .00083
        Aluminum 0.11 0.0095 Boron 0.01 .00082
        Praseodymium 0.04 0.0029 Titanium 0.01 .00079
        Strontium 0.03 0.00275 Bromine 0.01 .00071

        Also from the same article

        Why is Salt Refined?
        You may be asking yourself the above question. Salt is refined for four main reasons:
        1. Refined salt, having all of its minerals removed (i.e., “purified”) is essentially a lifeless product. Being a lifeless product assures a long shelf life. In fact, refined salt can sit on the grocery shelf forever. A long shelf life is a valuable tool to maximize profits for food manufacturers.
        2. Manufacturers believe that an all-white salt product will look cleaner to the consumer and, therefore, increase sales. Refined salt is bleached in order to obtain the white color.
        3. If the salt is taken from a polluted area, the refining process will remove the toxins associated with the salt.
        4. Iodine is added to refined salt to prevent goiter (swelling of the thyroid). However, as pointed out in my book, Iodine, Why You Need It , Why You Can’t Live Without It, there is insufficient iodine in salt to prevent thyroid illnesses or to provide for the body’s iodine needs.

        Unrefined Salt
        As contrasted with refined salt, unrefined salt contains much more than sodium and chloride. Unrefined salt contains all of the elements necessary for life. Celtic Sea Salt (Light Grey) contains 33% sodium, 50.9% chloride, 1.8% minerals and trace elements and 14.3 % moisture. Table 2 shows the major contents of unrefined Celtic Sea Salt. Unrefined salt does not contain appreciable amounts of iodide. Unrefined salt has not been put through various machines to remove the minerals and other elements that are naturally part of the salt. In addition, unrefined salt has not been exposed to harsh chemicals. Finally, unrefined salt will have the minerals and elements associated with its origin.

        • Ummm….table salt is NaCl, and the tiny cube like structures that you see are due to the ions of sodium and chloride binding together in ionic bonds to form a crystal lattice. PERCENT of sodium and potassium by WEIGHT is misleading. There is one sodium ion for every chloride ion. However, the atomic mass of sodium and chloride differ significantly, hence the different percentage by mass. The value you seek is MILLIEQUIVALENTS (mEq) which describes the IONIC content of the salt, which is exactly 50-50 in any given crystal of salt (or, you know, extremely close to 50-50). If there was a big difference in the amount of sodium compared to chloride, you would find that the salt was electrically charged. If it were only sodium, you would find that it was a highly reactive metal. So, in fact, NaCl, or “table salt” is pretty much 50-50 sodium and chloride, although iodine is added in the store. Salt is NOT bleached. NaCl is crystalline white in its pure form. There are some minerals in the impure salts, but it does not matter with regards to your health. In fact, pure salt is better, I am not too keen on eating Silica and Strontium….or even more fluoride than what they already put in the water. So, refined NaCl with iodine is the best for your health. Just bringing some chemistry to the table….

          • Refined NaCl is not good for your health, on the contrary, it is associated with stomach cancer just for starters.

  13. I crave salt! Growing up, my older brother would call me a salt vampire. When I was pregnant my husband was sure my bp would skyrocket. Nope. I maintained a healthy 120/70 range. I found that salty foods made my nausia go away, so saltines were at my bedside. At work I had a cup of salty sunflower seeds handy. I’d even pop green olives one after the other until I’d have to push them past my puckered lips…mmmm…good times! And the minimal swelling in my ankles happened due to the increasing weight of the baby, not the salt. Anyway, everyone is different, you shouldn’t impose what physiologically works for you on someone else. My husband doesn’t like a lot of salt, so appatently he doesn’t need a lot. “Season to taste” seems to be spot on!

    • “I crave salt”

      That is because NaCl it is an addictive compound.

      “You shouldn’t impose what physiologically works for you on someone else”

      Physiologically it is sodium (Na) that “works” for the human metabolism, not salt.

      Physiologically it is chloride (Cl) that “works” for the human metabolism, not salt.

      “My husband doesn’t need a lot of salt”

      No one needs a lot of salt. However we all need the requisite amounts of sodium and we all need the requisite amounts of chloride for our personal metabolism.

      • “No one needs a lot of salt. However we all need the requisite amounts of sodium and we all need the requisite amounts of chloride for our personal metabolism.”

        All of the sodium (aka natural salts) your body needs comes from whole foods, not processed foods.

        Its mind blowing to me the things that people want to argue about, other than common logic and sense.

    • Salt absolves you. It banishes room for other energies. This is why people are on meds without an emergency. They change a little due to becoming accustomed to something and only jump to suppress it. It takes some thinking to figure out what to do yourself instead of suppress the oncoming change.

  14. Ingesting salt as NaCl, wich is a mineral salt, has very diferente effects than ingestin sodium as organic salt like sodium citrate or acetate sodium wich is abundant in a lot of plants, like the fruit of Lemon, Orange, the leafs of most plants we eat. Nevertheless NaCl (like the one it exists in the ocean water at aprox. 3% concentration) has chloride wich is a very important micronutrient in plants (quantities similar to some macronutrients, more important to plants than sodium. Chloride is also very importante to mamals, humans included, because it is the ion wich is used to manufacture the chloridric acid wich permits to make digestion of food (it is a mineral acid by chemical convention ). The sodium wich is mainly in the stomach walls then reacts with the acid and protects the stomach walls from being corroded by this very strong mineral acid wich corrodes food and gives bad smell to vomit. The reaction wich happens in our body, in the stomach, between this very strong acid and this very strong base (they are very strong by chemical convention), originates NaCl wich is equal to the most part of ocean salt (99% is NaCl), when we piss to the earth, like a dog or a wild animal does, the ground gets NaCl, and the plants if they exist, if we put urine not diluted in plants we can kill plants because of this NaCl wich originated in our stomach, or in dogs stomach, or in other mamals stomach. Organic sodium is better to health and has not the danger if hardening the arteries and veins. But nevertheless we should consume Chloride, wheter in plants or in NaCl, so the animals, like cattle or humans, or any mamal pets, be normal healthy animals. Humans are animals. Cattle is full of NaCl in fodder, wich is not good, it should have a lot less NaCl, and a lot more sodium and chloride in fertilizer to plants, so they can manufacture organic molecules and then the cattle like pigs or chichens ingest it and humans also.

    • “But nevertheless we should consume Chloride, whether in plants or in NaCl, so the animals, like cattle or humans, or any mamal pets, be normal healthy animals.”

      ______

      No, we should definitely not consume chloride from NaCl, when it is in abundance in plant based food, or animals that ate the plants. The best source of chloride is not NaCl.

      • thank you Henry. I am reading through these comments and some people are very misinformed. Perhaps they are being paid by big pharma to spew this nonsense.

  15. Salt is not the primary reason behind hypertension its too much sugar and water..Hyponatremia is when too much water in the body flushes the sodium needed to function..You cells swells because the salt that regulates the in and out fluids in cells decreased..Salt is eliminated though sweat and urine but sugar stays in until it is burned it up in either exercise or some physical work ..That’s why we have high blood sugar and not high blood salts….Sugar can cause glycation in the body which hardens tissues and sticks to cells like a magnet….Now, I use to eat jars of pickles with salt , saltine crackers, and other salty foods (sauce meats) with no problems….There is no proof that sodium causes high blood pressure and any health issues unless you are not drinking enough fluids especially water..FYI, Too much water is not good for you either its biblical( 1 timothy 5:23), because too much water and low or no sodium your kidneys cant processs water without sodium.. The kidneys will hold that water in your tissues and body and now your bloated with water weight gain and other issues will follow….That B.S. about drinking 8 -8 oz glasses of water a day with no sodium , keep doing it and see what happens!..I was never given a blood sodium test for HBP just the meds and guess what !.. My body was like balloon with water that needed to be eliminated.. Now i.m fine,listen to your body it will tell you if something too is too much or you allergic too something…Stay Healthy

  16. Low salt helped kill my mother-in-law and it almost killed my sister-in-law a couple of years ago.

    I have been helped so much by my salt and water. I use either Redmon’s Real Salt, or Celtic Sea Salt, plus a large glass of water. I take 1/4 at least three times per day with water about 30 to 40 minutes before my meal. Sometimes I take it about 30 minutes before bedtime. I have been doing this over a month now. It has completely stopped my foot cramps and leg pain. I have lost 15 pounds. Look at all the minerals in these salts, which someone mentioned the Himalayan and it’s good, too, then you’ll see how they can help you with electrolyte balance. I think of those has over 80 trace minerals that our bodies need.

    A person cannot survive without salt, period. Try some of the healthier ones. Also check out Water Cures, and that’s helped a lot of people. You can find it typing in Water Cures and Sea Salt.

    • I am sorry to hear about your family illnesses.

      It is a total myth that people cannot live without NaCl.

      Humanity has done so for tens of thousands of years.

      Sodium should come from plants or the animals that ate the plants. Chloride should come from plants or the animals that ate the plants.

      To claim that a person cannot survive without salt shows a complete ignorance of the subject.

      I and millions of others have experiential proof that you don’t understand the difference between sodium, chloride and salt. These terms are not interchangeable.

      • No, you really, really really need salt in your diet, it is a macro-nutrient and is not that easy to find in diet without occasional supplementation, which is why it seems to make ordinary food more attractive, and dampens down bitter tastes, usually a danger sign for inedible food. It even has a tranquillising effect in prey animals because it is so valuable that that it is worth the extra risk of being preyed upon to get that salt into the system.

        • Salt has never been an essential compound for human metabolism to function correctly.
          You are totally fooled by a myth.
          Sodium is essential as is chloride. NaCl is not essential and never has been.
          Sodium from plants or the animals that ate the plants and chloride from plants or the animals that ate the plants is where humans derived their sodium and chloride for tens of thousands of years. I have experiential proof that NaCl is not essential.
          As for suggesting that sodium and chloride are hard to find in a diet shows a massive ignorance regarding the sodium and chloride content of fruits and vegetable.

        • Rubbish. You do NOT repeat NOT need to add salt, sodium chloride, NACL …call it what you will.. to your diet.

          This nonsense is perpetuated by those funded by the salt industry and its lobbiests.

          Excess salt is a poison. Anyone who tries to claim different is following their own agenda.

          • Andrew and Janice, thank you. Correct: you do not need salt or NaCl. Natural salts from whole foods is all you need, so eat enough of them. People that read this and still think you need “salt”? Go ahead, keep eating it…..you wonder why the cancer numbers are growing at a crazy rate? This has something to do with it.

      • ‘To claim that a person cannot survive without salt shows a complete ignorance of the subject.’
        Well, this statement proves you are the most ‘ignorant’ on the subject. Perhaps you have not had of the word ‘salt defficiency’.
        Many people have been rescued from looming death by astute doctors wise enough to make immediate prescriptions for more salt intake.

        • “Perhaps you have not had of the word ‘salt defficiency’ ”

          Err, no I haven’t actually as there is no such word.
          Salt deficiency is a term, not a word, therefore it is an expression used by doctors, quacks, so called health care professionals and a host of sundry members of the public

          Sodium ions and chloride ions are the requisite “salts” that the metabolism requires to function normally. The fact that the average diet is devoid of sodium rich foods from plants or the animals that ate them, is the primary reason for electrolyte imbalance. The quick fix sodium chloride infusion is merely a pharmaceutical stop gap for an inherent sodium deficiency, which will have started shortly after birth when toxic NaCl would have been used on a massive scale by the toxic food industry as a preservative, allowing junk convenience food to remain on the shelves for months. Laced with toxins and devoid of nutrients, this product is well known in stomach cancer circles, after decades of its use instead of ingesting sodium rich foods as the norm. Therefore it is not surprising that some may be deficient of the electrolytes the body rquires

          No one is salt deficient, because the compound NaCl is not part of plasma or blood. True, sodium ions separate from chloride ions have vital roles to play in totally different functions in the blood stream, however to confuse the roles of sodium ions and chloride ions with salt and claim that NaCl is “essential” is not only ignorant, but truly dangerous. The fact that a doctor who is taught to use drugs gives someone a sodium chloride infusion, may assist in the short term, but as usual with pharmaceuticals, they never see the cause, only a symptom. It is a temporary pharmacy fix.
          An infusion of any sodium rich plant juice would have the same effect..
          There are countless numbers of people who have suffered at the hands of drug salesmen.

          Side effects associated with use of intravenous sodium chloride include:
          hypernatremia (high levels of sodium),
          fluid retention high blood pressure, heart failure,
          intraventricular hemorrhage, kidney damage,
          electrolyte abnormalities.

          For as many that are helped by this stop gap, quick fix, countless are suddenly rushed to intensive care. I have personal experience of this disastrous method of meddling with electrolyte imbalance, in the end the chances of living became 50/50.

      • I find it funny to read comments about lack of salt from “so called professionals,” covered by “50 +” years of study. First off, you need to establish a “baseline” for yourself to determine if you need more or less salt. For instance, I am in my early 30’s, I consume over 3000 mg of sodium/salt a day. I am 6’2, 198 lbs. I workout 6 days a week, 2-3 Times a day. My heart rate is 58-72 beats per minute depending on how sick I am, and I consume roughly 2000 calories a day from healthy whole foods and little to no processed foods (cheese, luncheon meat, some whole grain pasta and whole wheat bread). I drink 16 (8 oz) glasses of water daily, more if training for a large event. I have no sign of hypertension as of right now. I don’t eat paleo, vegetarian, or vegan, I just watch what I eat because of being on a budget (I eat ice cream, donuts, cinnamon roles with cream cheese icing too, hope the wife doesn’t’t read this).
        I did a study for a specialist a couple of years ago. I ran, swam, biked, weight lifted, ate, drank, whatever was asked for the study. I performed like a man in my prime, and still do, as I get older I am getting better, weird?! The secret is to listen to your body to establish what you need, indulge a little, moderation is key with most diets, stay active, be positive. Eat your vitamins and consume minerals, healthy fats, real protein (meat, eggs and/or fish), drink water, and eat carbs! The minute you go to fad diets for any reason other than health concerns, than you are messing with the natural order of things. Organic or budget is the only real choice, and even that is relative. Different things work for different people. Find an organization, federation, association, group or whatever of like-minded individuals and hope what they do works for you if that is your cup of tea. Speaking of tea, I’m going to go grab a nice big cup of sweet tea. I hope everyone finds what works for them, good luck and good health wishes to you.

    • This article is seriously irresponsible. Full of pseudo science and selective statistics.
      All professional medical authorities confirm sodium as the prime factor behind hypertension.
      To suggest otherwise is pure bunk.
      Ignore this article and get your advice from a qualified medical specialist.

      • Phil, a man after my own heart! I have to say though, that I am definitely a fan of sodium! Reasons are above in the post you replied to, as don’t want endless repetition.

        Sodium from plant sources rich in Na, (celery beetroot) to name two, are to me, a life blood. Utterly essential.

        Excess sodium from sodium chloride in processed junk food is what your quote “professional medical authorities confirm sodium as the prime factor behind hypertension” will be talking about; that is the toxic industrialized additives in salt used by the food corporations. Its ubiquitous use of adulterated and subsequently therefore, unnaturally toxic sodium chloride is the real concern.

        Meanwhile a small amount (half a gram daily approx’) of sodium remains essential. Its process and horribly excessive use as a preservative and seasoning, is our undoing, not the sodium.

      • And who are these ‘ professional medical authorities’? You also advised to ‘get your advice from a qualified medical specialist’ Well, my own medical specialist have in many cases been recommending adequate salt intake and in some cases more salt in take for years and the patients including myself have been the betterfor the advice.

      • And Die Younger!!!
        Most Doctors who follow their own Medical Advice die younger (like in their 50-60’s). It’s called population control. I had extremely high blood pressure (220/110) and on the advice of a Dr went on a low salt diet (cutting out almost all salt from my diet). I became extremely Lethargic & my Dr didn’t know why. Then I read the book “Your Body’s Many Cries For Water” by Dr Batmanghelidj and tried adding a pinch of salt to my water & it pulled right out of the Letharic condition I was in. We just need to make sure we are drinking enough water to flush out the excess salt. I was chronically dehydrated & needed more water. I have asked around & everyone who uses a lot of salt & drinks a lot of water has normal (low) blood pressure.

  17. A distinction must always be made between science and advertising. This flimsy assault on salt elimination was paid for by the International Salt Miners Association.

  18. I’ve been on a sodium restricted diet since last Tuesday. After consuming 10 glasses of water on Wednesday, I noticed today that I had symptoms of low blood sodium. I’ve had about 2,430 mgs of salt today, but that still wasn’t enough to raise my levels!

    As I’ve been trying to cut out refined foods from my diet, I want to know how do I naturally raise my salt consumption eating foods like garden burgers (mine happen to be 280 mgs), tuna salads (no salt tuna/vegenaise), and black bean soups?

    Any advice would be appreciated!

    –Yvette

    • What made you drink ten glasses of water?
      You noticed you had “symptoms of low blood sodium” what symptoms, and how do you know that was low blood sodium?

      You say you have been on a sodium restricted diet. Do you actually mean salt ie sodium chloride? If not, why would you want to restrict sodium, it is an essential electrolyte?

      You also say you now want to raise your salt consumption, why? If you are on a restricted sodium diet, how will you maintain that by increasing salt?

      What you absolutely have to be clear about is what are you trying to restrict and why, and what are you trying to increase and why? You also have to be clear on the difference of processed toxic salt ie sodium chloride in packaged junk food, and sodium from plant material, or from animals who have eaten the plants. One is junk salt. the other is an essential electrolyte.

      What is a garden burger? This sounds horribly like American packaged food and therefore full of sodium chloride.

      If your tuna is canned it is full of salt too, so will the beans be if they are canned.

      You really need to be more specific to get good advice.

      • For the longest time I couldn’t sleep, laid in bed until morning, had half a tablespoon of salt and slept like a baby and haven’t had sleep issues since.

        • Forgot to mention my blood pressure went down from 150/95 to 135/75 (still not good, I know) after that half tablespoon of salt. The only other time this happened to me was when I was drinking 8 cups of water a day and restricting salt, I couldn’t sleep and would wake up with a pounding heart, ABSOLUTELY POUNDING, I’m sure that even though I didn’t have my blood pressure cuff at the time, it was VERY high.

  19. I’m type 2 diabetic but more importantly I have friend who at 52 yrs old has 10 percent of her that is in working order she needs to be on a no salt diet. I need information on this where are the most reasonable places to per chase this food. I’m sure you are aware anytime your diet require healty eating habits it requires extra money so many of us are on very limited incomes due to illness or no work due to limitations I just wonder if you have any suggestions as boths of us need reasonable solutions to this concern. Thank you

  20. I’m glad this topic is being discussed. Now what about the dramatic increase in potassium levels due to substitution of sodium chloride with potassium chloride in foods, especially so-called “low Salt” or “healthy Salt” products.
    I’m led to believe that the body can’t regulate potassium directly, and uses sodium levels as an approximate gauge of electrolytes. If we flood ourselves with potassium and remove sodium, I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t live to tell anybody about our mistake.

    • It’s almost impossible to get enough potassium through diet in less you drink gallons of OJ. Using no salt liberally on 3 meals a day may provide about 600 mgs potassium per 1/4 teaspoon. If you’v ever tried the stuff it’s bitter and a heavy sprinklING may net you 1/8 teaspoon at best. So you’d still be well below the Rda of 4700 mgs. I am of the opinion every one is mineral deficient. I suffered chronic fatigue for 4 years potassium showed 3.5 so docs never suggested supplements until I went to a bio identical hormone doc. She put me on microK 8 ME twice a day. I am no longer exhausted or weak! Worked within a few days.

      • Drinking gallons of orange juice for any reason is an incredibly foolish thing to do as is the statement foolish.
        High levels of fructose or fruit sugar are contained in every type of orange juice.
        All fructose is metabolised by the liver, so an excess of it contributes to visceral fat.
        As a result heavy fructose consumption can lead to cirrhosis of the liver. obesity and cardiovascular damage.
        The damage caused by excess fructose is very hard to spot, because those suffering from it tend not to look fat.
        When you eat a whole piece of fruit, the fructose in it comes equipped with fibre, giving your liver far more time to metabolise it, than with fruit juice.
        Smoothies are not any better, when the fruit is blended the insoluble fibre is torn to smithereens.
        Also “pure” orange juice can be up to two years old!

    • “If we flood ourselves with potassium and remove sodium, I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t live to tell anybody about our mistake.”

      No one in their right mind would suggest removing sodium, an essential electrolyte, from a diet. Industrialised sodium chloride, yes, but not sodium. So the hypothesis is irrelevant.
      The removal of toxic polluted sodium chloride would be beneficial, whilst maintaining intake of plant based sodium, or eating the animals that have consumed plants.

  21. Fascinating article. I am 64. I started a running addiction at age 43 and since then I have run about 60,000 miles including finishing 40 foot races of 100 or more miles. I also have 38 in-completes at the 100-mile distance. I will be attempting the Lean Horse 100 mile race next Saturday. First when I started running I avoided all fat and had issues with dry skin. Then I added Udo’s Choice oil as a supplement (2 tablespoons 5 days a week). I avoided salt and had issues with cramping during marathons and longer races. Now I consume lots of Succeed S-Caps (NaCl, Na citrate and other electrolytes) during running events of longer than 3 hours. I also do NOT worry about adding salty things like ketchup to some foods when I eat out. I now eat at buffets 3 days a week and at home 4 days a week. I started eating lots of pasta and now I eat very little pasta, but LOTS of lightly cooked vegetables (like broccoli, cauliflower, squash – winter and summer types, peas, corn, green beans, carrots, brussel sprouts, kale, kohlrabi, collard greens, swiss chard, asparagus, potatoes, tomatoes), fruit (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, bananas, watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, pineapple, pears, apples, grapes, peaches, plums), nuts (pecans, almonds, walnuts) and meats, (salmon and some other fish, chicken and turkey (without skin), sirloin steak, pork tenderloin) and oatmeal. I do not eat wheat products or desserts very often. I am 68 inches tall and currently weight 151-154 pounds depending on how much salt I had. My testing suggests I am 10-12% body fat. My blood pressure is 100-115 over 58-65 with a resting pulse of 42-49. My LDL is about 140 and my HDL is about 75. Before I started the running addiction my HDL was under 30 and I weighed 2-=26 pounds more. My glucose is 60-80 and my triglycerides are 90. A combination of exercise and appropriate whole foods (based on individual tolerance) I think will allow anyone’s body to be at their optimum health.

      • You are wrong! Some people do care. Like me, some people like to see what others are doing & how their Salt or Low Salt intake compares. I learn from what others say. Yeah maybe he went into a little more detail than was needed but we can still learn from him.

  22. Over the past few years I’ve come to think of those responsible for propagating official health advice as clueless bunglers. The problem seems to have started around 1950 and got progressively worse. So when self-appointed experts began recommending salt restriction I immediately smelled a rat and went back to look at the past fifteen years of my own annual blood test data. The result was not unexpected; my sodium level was consistently maintained just below the lower limit of the recommended guideline range. Now, my diet has been anything but consistent over this period so apparently evolution has, as we might expect, equipped the body with a sodium control mechanism.. No doubt the data linking hypertension to salt intake is derived from the few people who the medics see with hypertension problems resulting from a dysfunctional sodium control system. I believe there is even research data to support this conclusion. However when there is insufficient dietary sodium the control mechanism would be unable to function. And this is why for generations farmers have provided unlimited access to salt licks to ensure this problem doesn’t happen. Notably, the animals are simply given access without restriction. Once again we have the bunglers regulating something taken care of by evolution, something they apparently never studied, along with any consideration of all-cause mortality.

    • Salt licks (a non essential compound as inorganic sodium chloride) have no metabolic correlation to essential organic sodium, a required nutrient.

      NaCl is an addictive substance in pharmacological expression.

      Most farmers would expect and want their herds to remain nearby where an addictive substance was made available.

    • David AND Samantha

      Farmers did NOT provide saltlicks FOR their herds. MOST towns were settled where there WERE saltlicks. That was a sign that there was salt enough to sustain life and provide an income to those who settled there.

      Many towns and indeed great cities arose because salt was available. Most dynasties, Chinese for instance were funded on salt tax, because salt is essential to life. You simply die without it.

      As to “Salt licks (a non essential compound as inorganic sodium chloride) have no metabolic correlation to essential organic sodium, a required nutrient”

      There is no such thing. Sodium cannot exist except as NaCl. It conflagrates with exposure to air.

      As to Andrew,

      “No one in their right mind would suggest removing sodium, an essential electrolyte, from a diet. Industrialised sodium chloride, yes, but not sodium. ”

      What is “industrialised Sodium Chloride”? We have companies that take one of the most prevalent minerals in the WORLD and we SYNTHESIZE it. Puhlees!

      Avery Island, home of McIhennyTabasco sauce is built on millions of tons of solid salt. Mountains in the Mid-East are solid salt. You COULD combine Chlorine and Sodium to make Salt but you would have to first split Salt, the only way Sodium or Chlorine can be here on Earth

      Mayhap you mean the Ghandi salt. Rake it!. Too bad. For about 5000 years man HAS “raked” Salt. It was exactly the same salt that comes out of the “industrialised” mines. Well, I should not say that. I eat NaCl. Most sea salts are combination salts.Different Chlorides. Potassium. Magnesium. Strontium. These elements do not exist except as salts. I suppose that many of you who consider your bodies as “temples” are going to have to reconsider.

      You HAVE to eat a ROCK and you do not like it. You would rather eat a piece of an animal that ate a rock. That makes you feel OOH so less bad.

      George

      • “Chinese for instance were funded on salt tax, because salt is essential to life. You simply die without it.”

        Only a fool believes that. No one dies because they do not ingest salt. My diet of fruit and vegetables contains the required electrolytes or *SALTS* My diet contains no NaCL.

        I am alive and I don’t consume salt. Get it?

  23. I have been told and agree not all salt is made the same and sea salt is the best to use. Maybe someday you will discuss the differences? And my mother has it ingrained in her mind we need Iodine salt, is there research on that? I agree our bodies tell us how much salt we need. My 12 year old daughter was constantly putting LOTS of salt on her food. We were always telling her to stop putting so much salt on her food. We had her tested (because she has food sensitivities and we were afraid she was malnourished) She was actually sodium deficient.

    • Sodium chloride, salt or NaCl, is the worst possible way to satisfy the bodies need for organic sodium.

      No doubt, without an adequate or required abundant supply of an essential nutrient, organic sodium, the nearest evil, inorganic salt, was the only available substitute.

      This salt (sodium chloride) in no way fulfils essential sodium deficiency, it is merely an attempt to grab sodium in any form available, even if that form is second rate, or even toxic, to satisfy low organic sodium.

      In the long run, sodium chloride, instead of abundant organic sodium could be a metabolic nightmare in the making.

      • No, we need sodium chloride, it is the fluid our entire body runs on. Sodium alone doesn’t do. If it did, in emergencies people could be put on MSG drips. But they can’t. We need our internal oceans.

        • The fluid our body runs on is blood and plasma.

          To claim in your post that “salt is a fluid that our entire body runs on” suggests that you have no knowledge whatsoever of human metabolism.

  24. Dr. Joel Wallach (“Dead Doctors Don’t Lie”) made quick work of the salt paranoia decades ago by pointing out that a salt lick is the first thing put out on farms for cows to have at as much as they want. I also recall watching a show on elephants in Africa that make some epic pilgrimage every so often to a natural salt dense area and gorge on salt. Yeah, clearly it’s deadly! Yet another Western medicine backwards piece of garbage advice. But that is the bulk of Western medicine, so one can hardly be surprised.

    I do have some reservations for refined salt however and personally only use Himalayan or other naturally occurring sea salts.

    • Under the headline “drug addiction” the medical world has exclusively been interested in psychoactive drugs. For diagnosis of substance dependence (addiction), seven criteria apply and fulfilling at least tree of them signifies addiction. When studied, salt intake according to these criteria, it is seen that most of them are fulfilled, showing that sodium chloride, which is not classified under the psychoactive drugs, is capable of producing addiction. Animals may become addicted.

    • “Dr. Joel Wallach (“Dead Doctors Don’t Lie”) made quick work of the salt paranoia decades ago by pointing out that a salt lick is the first thing put out on farms for cows to have at as much as they want.”

      Interestingly there is a massive referenced article on the fraudulent claims of the delusional Joel Wallach here if you want an insight into his misconceptions.

      http://www.quackwatch.org/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/DSH/colloidalminerals.html

    • Evan,

      I am sure you will not, a year later read this but HOW in the Hell do you get a Himalayan “Sea salt”.? Himalayas are WAY up in the mountains..

      For thousands of years mankind has followed animals to find where salt could be found. Many towns and cities were founded close to “saltlicks” salt rich soil.

      Those of you who say you can live on the salt in your diet would die because if there WERE no salt for an animal to lick, there would be no animals for you to get salt from their meat. THEY would have died off for lack of salt.

      As to those who say “natural salt is good”, it is ALL natural. Mined. There are salt domes that contain millions of tons of salt worth billions. Some are pure white, NaCl. Eating salt some are different color, Mg, Mn whatever the only source of some of the strategic metals we need. You want pure seasalt, go to India buy what Go fought the British for,the right to gather salt off the sea. It did not pay tax, so it was forbidden.

      Most of the world has been financed by salt, whether by tax or by selling price. Absolutely vital to human life or the animals we eat. Salt is salt. Did we grow up on Potassium Chloride, I think NaCl would taste off.

      So many of you say that you are medical people, I doubt you are, else you would not be here.

      Google makes us all so smart, does it not? You may not understand what Google says, but you can damned well mimic it.

      George

  25. Reference number 5 link to the 2012 Journal of Hypertension article doesn’t link to anything specific. What issue was it from? I’m a nursing student and would love to read the entire article. Thanks!

  26. I’ve been told by people who are not medical professionals that not all salt is created equally and should all be consuming the Pink Himalayan Salt as it is in some ways better salt.

    Is this true? If so, how is it better?

  27. Yes, I have seen the effects of an inappropriately low-salt diet in some of my patients.
    It is particularly an issue for those with depleted adrenals. Poor adrenal function means they produce less cortisol and less aldosterone, which is needed to reabsorb sodium. And of course cortisol and aldosterone are built on a backbone of cholesterol. For some people improving fat digestion is the key that makes a difference.

    • With salt reduction, there is a small physiological increase in plasma renin activity and aldosterone. So might this actually be of benefit to your point about weak adrenals and lack of aldosterone?

      Instead, NaCl whips up adrenal activity, but is there much point to flogging a tired horse?

      Much better to feed it daily with nourishing organic salts of sodium, than suspect NaCl

      Fat digestion might simply be giving the permeable cell the correct fats first? So adjust two food stuffs and a number of issues might resolve themselves?

  28. In the studies you have referenced, was iodine in salt controlled for? For many in western countries iodized salt would be the main source of iodine in diet, which begs the question whether the correlations shown are linked to sodium or iodine.

  29. Someone please help me with the conversions here. The study Chris cites indicates 4 to 6 grams of salt excreted in urine per day is associated with lowest CVD risks. They are measuring by weight and not by sodium density? It’s a strange way to express this from urine measurement?

    By my calculations, one teaspoon of salt is roughly 4.8 grams of weight, so basically this study is saying that one teaspoon per day is a reasonable target intake?

    • Anyone excreting 4 to 6 grams of sodium chloride daily will sooner or later run into serious glomeruli filtration problems.
      500mgs of natural sodium from plants is plenty for the day, unless you are metabolically challenged and need a little more.
      You will also get your necessary chloride from plants.
      The RDA of salt requirements is a figure for corporations to exist, whilst their food sits on shelves. It is not a figure for human requirement, simply money driven, and sanctioned by bodies that are basically “owned” by billion dollar industries.

      • Do you have a citation for glomeruli filtration problems? There are a lot of Paleo people doing more than four grams of sodium a day and not showing any adverse effects.

        • Hello Pone you say:

          There are a lot of Paleo people doing more than four grams of sodium a day and not showing any adverse effects.

          Four grams of salt or sodium? And how many years have the Paleo people been ingesting?

          The reason I am asking is you have mentioned:

          “The study Chris cites indicates 4 to 6 grams of *salt* excreted in urine per day ”

          Are we talking salt or sodium re quantities?

          • My bad, we are talking salt. I was just asking for citations showing 4 to 6 grams of sodium chloride excretion would cause the problem you cited.

            • Effect of dietary sodium chloride on the development of renal glomerular and vascular lesions in hypertensive rats.

              Liu DT1, Birchall I, Kincaid-Smith P, Whitworth JA.

              Abstract

              1. The hypothesis that high levels of NaCl in the diet aggravates hypertension-associated renal vascular lesions was examined in unilaterally nephrectomized deoxycorticosterone acetate treated (DOCA) and two kidney one clip (2K1C) hypertensive rats, as well as normotensive controls. 2. High NaCl diet significantly increased systolic blood pressure (SBP) in DOCA rats, but had little effect on SBP in normal control rats, and did not affect the rise of SBP in 2K1C rats. 3. High NaCl diet was associated with a higher percentage of glomerular lesions and renal arterial and arteriolar lesions in DOCA and 2K1C rats (P < 0.05). 4. Thus high NaCl intake exacerbated renal arterial and arteriolar and glomerular lesions in both DOCA and 2K1C hypertensive rats. In 2K1C rats this effect may be in part independent of blood pressure.
              PMID: 8306519 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

              I grant you the 4-6 grams aren't indicated, but this amount of excretion and therefore intake of toxic NaCl is in my opinion, high, in fact very high. I am sorry the figures that you or I quoted, are not included, but in the spirit of saving one's kidneys from the eventual slow but sure damage in later life, that I have personally witnessed, 4-6 grams of salt is a high intake for anyone, even the metabolically challenged; who would be far better off using Organic salts of sodium from plants, which are the essential nutritive cellular sodium requirement, and not to substitute this with the short term gain, but long term damage of NaCl.

  30. During the 1960s I worked for an internist, Irwin Salkin, M.D., F.A.C.P., who wrote an article that was published in the New England Journal of Medicine and detailed problems seen in patients where salt restriction had been extreme.
    I typed the document but do not retain any of the details after so many decades, but find it interesting that recent, widely quoted, articles detail findings similar to those he noted some FIFTY years ago.

  31. Thank you for this. I’ve been on a low salt diet due to high blood pressure and I’m now going to start rethinking that. I’ve had aches and pains, have noticed my heart beating harder than normal, and have generally felt fatigued and crummy ever since starting on the diet. It now seems that low sodium may be the cause. I also found a very informative New York Times article about this topic: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/03/opinion/sunday/we-only-think-we-know-the-truth-about-salt.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

    • The problem with that interesting link, is that their is no mention of whether the salts in question were organic from plant base material, equalling useful metabolic sodium, or from inorganic salt, less useful for human metabolism.
      Rock based minerals are not so readily or easily absorbed by the body as plant based minerals. Plant based material fulfils all the electrolytes for a reasonably healthy person, and are the correct organic source for sodium and other salts.

      • How did you come by this idea? I keep hearing people going on about plant-based this or that and can’t think of a single reason why the feel plant sources to be superior. There are good moral grounds perhaps but scientific and health grounds seem highly unlikely. Plus, there is no such thing as organic sodium.

        • Moral grounds are a reason to get minerals and electrolytes from plant based food?

          Well, perhaps they are for some, fine by me.

          As for the false notion that there is no such thing as organic salts of sodium, how has humanity in antiquity survived without the essential?

        • Photosynthesis combines photons with inorganic matter to create organic matter, also known as plants.

          Do you think that powdered nails are a good source of iron for the body?

          • Well, yes, powdered nails are a perfectly acceptable source of iron for the body. In fact, most fortified breakfast cereals contain iron filings (your powdered nails) and these dissolve in your stomach acid and are absorbed and used. Why on earth would they not be? If you doubt this,get a good magnet and put it against the side of a packet of cereal and shake it – you’ll see the “powdered nails” collect against the inside of the packet. Also, the distinction between organic and inorganic is basically a formal distinction between two branches of chemistry, and not somehow something different about the matter involved. So the sodium ions from any source are indistinguishable once they enter solution in your bloodstream. Finally, photons are immaterial particles whose role in photosynthesis is just to supply the energy for the matter (both organic and inorganic substrate, by the way) to be converted from one form to another.

            • I thought you would be an advocate of heavy metal acceptance in junk food. None the less, thank you for the response, I really do appreciate it.
              We will never agree. and come from totally opposing schools of thought.
              I will never choose to get my minerals from any other source than plants. The cell membrane is far too important to be plaguing it with ferrous from ground up nails.
              The chemical reaction may be the process or concept which fools people into believing that iron from nails is ok but the cellular response is in no way the same.

              Finally, photons are not “immaterial” particles. “Their role in photosynthesis is to supply the energy for the matter (both organic and inorganic substrate, by the way) to be converted from one form to another”… Exactly, converting disorganised inorganic salts, into organised organic salts.
              I wish we could meet, because these posts are limited for various reasons, and we can endlessly put varying views, but will always fundamentally disagree. I am tired of the way scientists view food, they gave us hydrogenated fats for decades, convinced the science was good, only to discover in fact, a toxic, lethal cellular disaster
              If you would like to swap a link, that would be a nice conclusion.
              I think this one among many is interesting.
              http://www.doctorsresearch.com/articles3.html

            • “Even early nutritionists made an error in reasoning, by assuming that a chemical similarity in minerals also meant there was a nutritive similarity between organic and inorganic minerals. While it is true that the same minerals found in the human body are also found in the soil and water it is wrong to assume that the minerals in the soil are food for man. We are not soil eaters—we are plant eaters.

              It is necessary that the minerals in the soil be elaborated into organic compounds by the plant before they can be |assimilated by the body. The various mineral compounds produced by the chemist differ in their structure and in the relative positions of their component molecules than those produced in the plant.

              Over sixty years ago a German scientist named Abderhalden conducted a series of experiments comparing how several species absorbed different forms of iron. He found that animals fed with food poor in iron, plus in addition of inorganic iron, were unable in the long run to produce as much hemoglobin as those, receiving a natural iron-sufficient diet.

              While the inorganic iron may be absorbed into the body, it is not utilized in the formation of hemoglobin, but remains unused within the tissues. Abderhalden also concluded that any apparent benefit of the inorganic iron resulted from its stimulating effect.

              Chemically, it is true that iron in the bloodstream and iron in nails are the same and that calcium in rocks (known as dolomite) is identical to calcium in the bones.

              However, it is a grave error to believe that the body can digest and assimilate and utilize powdered nails and crushed rocks.”

          • Very distressing to hear so much cog dis coming from I’m sure intelligent people. There are at least 3 very different meanings to “organic” – including carbon, approved pesticide-free (etc), bound to carbon-based life-forms. There are many ways of “binding” inorganic minerals to biological use – including IN THE GUT of animals that consume them, assuming an appropriate bio-flora. Since ALL SUCH USE IMPLIES SOME POINT OF BINDING – I find it inconceivable that inorganic salts of Sodium and Chloride should have either toxic or no use to animals directly – including human beings.
            AND THE REASON WE ARE HERE instead of the other twenty sites I have open – is because the med sites are COMPLETELY AVOIDING THE SUBJECT. True…!

      • Presumably your plants get their salt from minerals as salt is just a mineral. I think you might be saying that if you get all your salt from plants and don’t add it directly from a mineral source it is beneficial but I don’t know why that should be.

  32. You mentioned in the previous instalment that the potassium / sodium ratio may play an important role. I can’t help but wonder if a salt restricted diet is only detrimental when consuming small amounts of potassium as well. I don’t have time to check all the studies you referenced, but I wonder if that was the case for those participants. Someone that is exercising salt restriction but still sticking to low-sodium processed foods would most likely be not consuming a lot of potassium. Conversely, someone consuming whole foods (no salt added) will be getting lots of potassium while still not getting a ton of salt.

    • I’m not surprised. I eat nothing processed and live on vegetables fruits nuts seeds. Haven’t eaten sodium chloride for years. Get all the sodium and other “salts” from diet. Unless you are metabolically challenged there is enough sodium in above diet. Sodium and salt are not interchangeable terms.
      As for farmers using salt licks, this has no bearing on metabolic needs, as like humans, animals can become addicted to sodium chloride. They certainly wouldn’t die without it, neither would an ordinarily healthy human. I have experiential proof, as does the naturopath mentioned.

  33. I can’t seem to find a link to articles you subsequently write on certain topics. For example, in this article you said, “In my next article, I will discuss the conditions in which salt reduction may be warranted, and nutrients that may be more important than sodium in controlling blood pressure and promoting overall health.” Is it possible that once you have written that article you could provide a link at the end of the previous article so that readers can follow the topic extensively? It would help immensely. Unless of course you already do and I’m just way too blind to see it 🙂

  34. I have severe pain in my knees and hips and recently been getting cramps in my fingers and calves, I sauna almost every day, could my symptoms be caused by lack of salt due to sweating. I am male, 55, and otherwise fit and well. My G.P. is useless and just keeps saying “wear and tear” keep taking the pain killers, I’d rather have a cure. Can anyone help please?. steve

    • Yes! Eat tons of animal fats from pastured animals (grass fed) and bone broth (using organic/pastured animals) with lots of gelatine (you can add chicken feet) – you need to nourish and moisturize your bones and joints from the INSIDE! and get off the painkillers, get off the pharmaceuticals, without getting into big details here, they are making the problem worse.
      don’t take it from me, watch the oiling of america on you tube for free by sally fallon, watch anything by the following people:
      sally fallon and mary enig
      lierre keith, the vegetarian myth
      the catalyst show episodes called heart of the matter
      watch lectures by dr. sinatra, underground wellness,
      google anything regarding the cholesterol myth and about butter being GOOD for you. And of course right here on Chris Kresser, he goes into lots of detail in his articles about this.

      Just stay the course because it takes a while but this is really the key. Also another great tip is to have half a teaspoon of fermented cod liver oil – fermented! any health food store.

      I really hope you are not avoiding healthy fats. They WILL heal you. WILL.

      Good luck.

    • Have you tried Glucosamine or any substance with it ? Maybe Chondroiton as well , whichever works . Sometimes they are combined and work just fine.

  35. i developed type 2 recently and was adviced to go on low salt diet. After six months my health started deteoriating badly,Problem with my vision, general weakness and also develop a huge appetite. Always having aches all over my body. I collapsed with driving one day and was ambulanced to the hospital ,to recomend low salt. I knew there was something wrong with my salt level. I told the doctor how i might need salt. Immediately i was given salt intravenously, i became o.k. I started adding salt to all my foods even my morning milk . I discovered after a week saltrying my foods. i don’t experience insulin surge again and i went to do my blood test and the diabetes symptoms all gone.
    I love this article of this writter. please tell the whole world that low salt diet is the cause of early death. The paleolthic people were never highly populated. May be because of low salt diet makes them to die young and also infertile. My wife has not conceived once since our 8yrs marriage living on low salt diet. A month of living on high salt diet gives her the conception she’s having now.

  36. I have been on a no salt diet for some time, meaning no salt at all and i have to disagree with many things that are stated in this article. First of all the studies talk about a danger in a low sodium diet, but here the author is equating salt as the only source of sodium in a diet, implying that if one does not eat salt then one will not have enought sodium in their diet. This is definetly not true, as there are many good organic sources of sodium out there, celery being one example.. and humans are the only ones that apparently ‘need’ salt while most animals can go well without it.. plus salt is a mineral.. not organic source meaning the body does not assimilate it.

    • I agree. I don’t add salt to my food nor eat processed foods and NO restaurant foods. I looked at the sodium content of foods I eat and I still get sodium.
      I don’t crave sodium or i would eat it.
      I crave certain restaurant food and processed food I used to eat. When I eat them, like the ridiculously salty cookies at whole foods, then unpleasant symptoms occur.
      The unpleasant are numerous. I haven’t noticed any unpleasant no-added-salt symptoms. What would they be?

    • Well said, the most basic and simple truths are that plants have organic sodium in abundance. For the average person, not metabolically challenged by health problems, plant based sodium would always suffice electrolyte needs.
      If we are metabolically challenged, then the plant kingdom has all the earths minerals to help set the balance right again.

      • Please, please, please remember that your body doesn’t just require sodium, it requires sodium chloride. MSG has a bad reputation. Nothing too awful about it other than it makes people cut out sodium chloride. Sodium alone can raise blood-pressure in a a subset of people, please don’t try and consume sodium and cut out sodium chloride. Sodium alone does nothing good for you whatsoever

        • You don’t understand the body’s requirements for electrolytes.

          Sodium is essential in its own right!

          Chloride is essential in its own right.

          It is not a case of “consuming sodium and cutting out sodium chloride.” It is about consuming sodium and consuming chloride as individual electrolytes. Sodium chloride (NaCl) is not essential for life. I don’t consume it. I am active, fit, healthy and don’t ingest NaCl. I am still alive! Get it?

  37. Good article. Those studies are still just correlations. For references 3-4, as well as the others you mentioned, sodium/electrolyte excretion is NOT synonymous with salt intake. That’s an important distinction to make because those studies only showed that sodium/electrolyte excretion has a “sweet spot” for CVD. For reference 5, the last thing any physician in their mind would do is to suggest increasing salt intake for hypertensives. The sodium/potassium balance may be the real culprit, among other possibilities…For references 6-7, diabetics obviously have to urinate more because of excess sugar in the bloodstream. A low-sodium diet in this case would obviously be the opposite of what is needed. According to TCM, the kidney-adrenal function weakens in old age, and salt acts to stimulate the kidneys. Therefore, the elderly do benefit from a moderate amount of salt and a low-sodium diet would be contraindicated.

    I must respectfully disagree with you about the salt/hypertension connection. According to TCM and Western Medicine, if you (or any other animal for that matter) consumes too much salt, it will most definitely increase your blood pressure, put strain on your heart muscle, and long term, it will damage your kidneys among other things. Fact is, the reason why the government imposes an upper limit of 2300 mg/day, as you mentioned, is that processed food is loaded with sodium, which is used as a food preservative. It is my understanding that Americans consume on average, way more than the recommended limit because of widespread usage of processed and junk food. The last thing anyone on a SAD diet should do is to increase their salt intake.

    Salt requirements vary widely by individual. But 1.5-3 teaspoons is quite high! In the long run, you risk numerous health complications. For those on a meat-centric paleo diet, salt intake must usually be higher to compensate for the excess of meat. Salt is alkalizing and lubricating and is therefore craved by those eating too much meat, which is what paleo entails. (There’s a reason why every steakhouse has a large salt-shaker on the table and Japanese people have been eating fish with soy sauce for centuries) TCM indicates as much. Whole, unrefined sea salt used in moderation in conjunction with a vegetarian grain/vegetable-based diet is beneficial, however.

    • You are not analyzing this correctly.

      First, my blood pressure when sodium is normal is 119 / 71. When I get low sodium my pressure jumps to 150 / 88. My pulse goes very high and I lose glucose control. So the first problem with your post is that you only look at what high sodium can do and you fail to address what low sodium can do. My low sodium went undetected by four doctors for three months and destroyed my health. I was on about 1/2 teaspoon per day.

      Second, you are committing the fallacy of designing the diet to treat the symptom without first understanding is the symptom the result of the diet. The hypertensive may be suffering because of low sodium. The correct solution for that patient is to normalize sodium levels.

      Here is how scary my low sodium became. If would walk for one hour low intensity and then drink water to satisfy thirst. But because of low sodium kidneys excreted all that water quickly. I would spend entire nights every hour getting up desparately thirsty and drinking, immediately urinating, never resolving dehydration. If would describe these symptoms to multiple doctors and not one could figure it out.

      It resolved immediately by adding salt to diet.

      • I fully agree with Mr Pone’s situation…I have been going through similar situation for last few months…While Blood serum levels are about 135 for me,if I increase salt intake,the symptoms like palpitations etc vanish…Although BP is under control only with medication

        • It’s true that we analyze quite a bit with absolute thinking and assuming we will all react the same.
          We have a very complicated set of different measurements, one thing creates another reaction, etc. Some laws or behaviours for how certain body parts and chemicals work may be the same but our starting points within our bodies vary WILDLY. We are like different types of cars with different types of engines where some parts work well and others work differently, the gears and belts may all generally operate the same, but the current state of ones parts and fluids are never identical to the other, plus wear and tear and enviro exposure is totally different! So keeping with this analogy, a mechanic cannot apply the exact same remedy to each vehicle with all these varying situations thinking it will all be the same result. it’s not logical! It doesn’t work for us either to say “all humans should stick to this amount of salt intake, period”. Some absorb more than others based on soooo many different factors, some just can’t retain it, some are not eating it, some are eating the wrong kind, or different kinds, some have more celery than others, added salt is different from inherent salt, plus testing isn’t always accurate because of factors – a test might indicate it’s there, but can’t indicate if it’s actually being used properly by the body? how can that be tested completely accurately? SOOO many factors.

          Also, One man’s meat is another man’s poison. perhaps one body just functions better at a different level. We already know that’s true.

          So arguing and accusing or whatever can really be a waste of energy just rile us up for no reason.

          Best thing we can do is share ALL the info, as much info as possible and let each person do their own research and determine what’s best for them. Become our own health managers.

          Good luck people .

          • Wonderfully considered comment and I thank you for that. I would like to add one point re the mechanic analogy, with which I whole heartedly agree.
            He would of course, no matter at all, what the engines symptoms were, never put contaminated oil or petrol in the engine if he could help it.
            So hopefully everyone would follow suit and never put contaminated, industrialised and processed junk food salt in their bodies, whatever their health. Same choice available as the mechanic. So often a different choice made by humans.

      • Glad you are better, but sodium and salt are not interchangeable terms, which is a huge problem in arguing “salt” needs. Actually humans need “salts” especially organic sodium. Sodium chloride is not a necessity for survival if equal amounts of organic sodium are used.

      • That is very common. My husband is in the same situation and was advised in hospital to up his salt consumption.

  38. Frequently, the elderly people who have low sodiums are sickly, taking a lot of meds including ones that lower their serum sodium (such as diuretics), so it may be a stretch to say that the low sodium causes their problems primarily.

  39. also, it’s weird, because even though my sodium levels have been low for the past few years, i didn’t crave salt and always had to remind myself to salt my food. hm……?? i crave sugar more.

    • Jackie, have a look at Dr. Natasha McBride’s you tube video talk called Food is the best Medicine, and if you can find it there’s another great interview she does with dr. mercola where she explains very well how processed foods with their chemicals have been DESIGNED to have that bliss point flavour that addicts us to precisely a can of some specific soda, or specifics foods like a pizza pop – a trademarked secret recipe food, and turns your brain into an addicted brain, where your natural cravings that really reflect what your body actually needs, is totally put on manual override by these chemicals so you will crave THEIR food and go buy it.

      Not that I am accusing you of eating processed foods, obviously you would not be here on Chris Kresser’s site 🙂 but I am wondering/ musing even just for myself, if a history of eating processed foods even for a short period of time in our teenage years or at birthday parties or friends houses messed up our young developing brains and if we could still be healing from this derailed neurology.

      Just a thought I had while I read your post about you consciously adding salt, while still craving sugar.

      Good on you for being aware and conscious about these issues. Good luck

  40. i personally eat a lot of himalayan salt because my blood sodium level is chronically low (maybe because of adrenals?), but i just listened to an interview of charlotte gerson, of the famous gerson cancer therapy, and she says NO salt, ever. she is super healthy at age 90 or 91. so i guess just as tyler above said, everyone’s different. 🙂

    • jackie I am so glad you brought up this topic of the gerson therapy. I was a totally believer in it and embarrassingly was recommending it to anyone and everyone to look into, and now I understand that a) as you said everyone’ different (one man’s meat is another mans’ poison) and and b) I have learned from other sources that a veggie juicing diet is just a cleansing one, to cleanse from toxins.
      gerson protocol doesn’t advocate sugar which I agree with but I don’t believe gerson protocol is a good idea beyond the cleansing period. She advocates as a life style.
      I surprise myself because I was such a staunch believer in being a vegetarian and did NOT want to believe gerson might not be the miracle I thought it was. But I have since learned it can be a great healer just for the detox period, and I would rather step down and realize I was wrong about vegetarianism and veganism when I finally accepted the cholesterol/diet/heart evidence.
      it’s a relieve to live with the truth instead of my pride…
      anyways, good point jackie!

  41. I’ve often wondered about salt. Since paleolithic man ate low amounts of sugar, wouldn’t it be similarly wise to reduce intake of salt likewise? Keep up the good work, Chris, very interesting.

    • Good point, I used to be worried about salt intake as well however himalayan salt and sea salt have trace minerals we evolved with and need for our bodies, and have been abundant in many materials on the earth throughout human history. The exposure and necessity of salt is totally different than that of sugar. Firstly, sugar was only available from honey and sweet fruit which was rare (because fruits are sweeter today than they used to be – they are hybridized to be bigger and sweeter) plus they only were available once a year- when they fell off the tree, and fattened us up for the winter famine when less food was available). We live in abundance now with so many crazy choices for food available 24/7/365. We have to eat the way our bodies evolved to eat. So my opinion, based on the facts we have available to us, the research, the articles, is that we must limit sugars as much as possible and if we did eat it, have a tart whole piece of fruit with the fibre and flesh, not juiced, if we want to eat it at all (it’s not necessary at all actually) and salt – yes – eat the himalayan salt or at least sea salt or utah salt – NOT the processed table salt. Again, we’re back to avoiding denatured processed foods aren’t we? Eating as whole and natural and historical as possible right?
      Same thing, same thing, same thing.
      Sugar bad, healthy salt good. Once we reset our brains (avoiding processed food and grains) by letting our neurology guide our tongues/cravings and tastes, your body will very intelligently do the job of telling you when you need salt or when you’ve had enough. That’s what our bodies had always done – guide us with our tastes, then the processed crap messed up our neurology and made us addicted to garbage and chemicals. Great talk by Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride called Food is the best Medicine and she explained this neurology craving topic very well.

      GOOD luck and enjoy!

  42. Chris, this is overall good advice – but most of the endurance athlete studies that you cite acknowledge that plasma sodium levels were often maintained, but the issue was overconsumption of hyoptonic fluids – in other words – drinking too much water and/or sports drinks during the event, effectively diluting the body’s fluids. Noakes himself will admit that sodium supplementation is not necessary, even for long, hot and humid events, due to endogenous sodium stores and decreased loss via kidney excretion.

    • Good observation. I believe over consumption of fluids, particularly water, is actually a much bigger problem than most think. It’s under most people’s radar. Matt Stone has done a great job reporting on it and what can be done about it. Dilution of the fluids at the cellular level causes people to dump water – causing symptoms such as a very strong urge to urinate, anxiety, adrenaline rush, light headedness, fatigue, etc. This can be a devastating problem for people who have metabolic issues, hypothyroidism, “adrenal issues”, etc.

      People should check out this interview with: http://180degreehealth.com/2012/02/mild-water-intoxication.

      • Totally agree. Very few people die of lack of water but do die of lack of salt(s). If really dehyrated you need electrolytes and fluids, not water. And in general, drink just enough water and a tiny bit extra, in hot weather or working hard carry water and salty snacks with you.

    • I wouldn’t get wrapped up in any diet rules out there. Everyone is different and each person’s body demands different foods, ratios, nutrients, etc. in it’s own unique way. Subscribing to set diet rules and recommendations is like driving down a road blind folded. Sure there are some great general guidelines to follow such as eating whole natural foods and staying away from PUFAs, gut irritants, etc. But it’s important to listen to your body’s needs and follow through with them. If you’re craving more salt or carbs .. it’s a good idea to follow your intuition.

      • I have to disagree with the intuition approach. I cut back on salt because I was eating it like a food unto itself. Routinely salting salty things..like cheese, and.eating salt by itself, etc. And apparently my body “needs” a lot of wine and pancakes too. With those sort of cravings, a few rules can keep things from getting crazy…

        • Right, if you find yourself indulging in processed food at every meal or binge drinking, you’ve probably got some other issues to work out. Every now and then, in my opinion, it can be very beneficial to let yourself go and destroy a stack or 2 of pancakes or order that large pizza and take it down followed by some good craft beers. That can actually do wonders mentally.

            • Tyler and ChrisG –

              Your “cheat day” is really a gambling-for-a-stroke day. It’s a embolism-to-the-brain day.
              Find the largest hospital in your area and visit the stroke rehab ward.

              R

    • Industrialised table salt is metabolic poison.
      Sodium requirements can be satisfied by eating or juicing sodium rich plants. Were athletes encouraged to ingest organic plant based sodium rich drinks, instead of the fake unhealthy sports drinks they have been duped by, hyponatraemia would not be an issue.

  43. Great post. I’m very interested in reading what you have to say about other nutrients involved in BP regulation (magnesium? potassium?) because I have high BP with NO other issues – i.e. I am lean, very physically fit, with normal blood sugar, cholesterol, everything. It’s just the BP that is elevated. Do you think tall people have higher BP because it takes more to pump that blood to our (farther out) extremeties?? 🙂

    • Great question, I’m personally very interested in this because I’m in much the same situation. Lean, eat paleo, health metrics appear good except BP. And also tall!

      In particular, there seems a lot of talk of the ratio of sodium to potassium in the diet being a (or the) key factor in blood pressure disregulation.

      Do we have a sense at all of how much sodium is taken in by hunter gatherer societies?

    • I am in the same situation as Mary and Ben. The only thing I am having is hypertension. I am not tall. I have even lost some weight and nothing is happening. All my numbers are great. No high cholesterol, AIC is good, I mean everything is good except the blood pressure. I just started increasing my consumption of celery because I read that it provides nitric oxide.

      • I am the same. Do you have a low pulse rate – mine is always 50-55 which apparently makes high BP less of a problem. One theory is that a slower (healthier) heart rate allows chambres in heart to overfill causing high upper reading, but is otherwise benigbn.

    • Magnesium and calcium balance is very related to blood pressure, and many people do not get enough magnesium, but lots of calcium. It’s no wonder, then, so many people have high BP.

  44. It’s so amazing how long it takes for conventional advice to go out of favor. People are STILL talking about lowering fat … HUH???!!

  45. I DEFINATELY crave salt on some foods, since cleaning up my food palate. The body demands, the body receives. 🙂

    I have some Qs about gall bladder, for you Chris, where can I send them?

    -Richard

  46. Great article. My mother suffers from terrible hypertension and several years ago, was prescribed a low-sodium diet. My mom was never one to eat much in the way of processed foods, the healthier the food, the better, so she took to this new diet with gusto. I watched as her health declined rapidly – her heart problems worsened, there were frequent mini-strokes, and memory was suffering. We didn’t know why this was happening. Years later, one doctor finally has the common sense to note that she was suffering electrolyte imbalance and mom was subsequently put on a higher sodium diet. Mom now adds fleur de sel religiously to her meals and her health has improved. She still suffers from hypertension, but she is much more stable and her memory has improved (despite the strokes).

    I now warn friends about recommending a low sodium diet to others. It’s better for them to recommend eliminating processed foods.

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