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

Shaking up the Salt Myth: The Dangers of Salt Restriction

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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. 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

  2. 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.

        • Another ignorant comment from someone who doesn’t understand the difference between salt and sodium.

        • “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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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

  6. The link in note 4 to the American Journal of Hypertension doesn’t work, because that journal has moved to Oxford.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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?

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

    • 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

        • Every creature on our earth dies without sodium chlodide. It is our biggest mineral requirement.

          • You are talking absolute rubbish, no animal or human dies because they don’t ingest NaCl.

            I don’t ingest any NaCl and I am alive ok!

  12. 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!

  13. 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?

  14. 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?

  15. 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.

  16. Salt restriction + drinking large amounts of water (which is what is recommended) can’t be a good combination.

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

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