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by
Charlie Martin

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July 13, 2013 - 11:00 am

I’ve always been one of those people for whom the potatoes in french fries are a condiment added to a serving of salt.

shutterstock_98843054

Pretty much any of the usual suspects in nutrition would tell me that I was being an idiot, that it would give me high blood pressure or a heart attack or something. And the fact that even at my heaviest I never had blood pressure over what’s considered normal — 120/80 — and my recent blood pressures are running like 110/60 never seems to deter them.

So it was interesting to come across a recent, extensive, study on what the actual health outcomes are for low-salt diets. (You can go to the link and buy the whole book for $43.20 or you can download the PDF for free. Guess which I did.)

Remember a few weeks ago when we looked at a controversy over what an actual healthy weight is? It turned out that especially as we get older, being a little bit heavy was good: there was a greater risk of dying at a “normal” weight than there was for someone who was “overweight” according to body-mass index.

According to this study — which was a “meta-study”, it evaluated many different primary studies to try to decipher what the evidence was suggesting — it appears that something similar happens with salt intake. Here’s Finding 2 of the study:

The committee found that data among prehypertensive participants from two related studies provided some evidence suggesting a continued benefit of lowering sodium intake in these patients down to 2,300 mg per day (and lower, although based on small numbers in the lower range). In contrast, the committee found no evidence for benefit and some evidence suggesting risk of adverse health outcomes associated with sodium intake levels in ranges approximating 1,500 to 2,300 mg per day in other disease-specific population subgroups, specifically those with diabetes, [chronic kidney disease], or pre-existing [cardiovascular disease]. …

Emphasis mine, and I expanded the abbreviations.

What to make of this?

Well, first of all, I’m not your doctor, and in fact I’m not anybody’s doctor or even a doctor at all. If you’re on a low-salt diet because your doctor recommended it, don’t change it because of this article; talk anything over with your doctor first. But if you’re avoiding salt just because you’ve been told you should, and your blood pressure is normal and your kidneys are working well, it may be that worrying about your salt intake is more harmful than having some salt.

One more thing: some of the studies suggest that low salt diets may in fact increase insulin resistance and thus exacerbate type-2 diabetes.

This is the end of the sixth week of my current 13 week experiment: so far, my weight is down about 8 pounds (broke the plateau? Maybe so.) and my glucose is hovering around 115 on average. You can follow the conversation daily at the 13 Weeks Facebook page, and you can follow my fitful exercise endeavors by signing up for a free membership in Fitocracy.

Charlie Martin writes on science, health, culture and technology for PJ Media. Follow his 13 week diet and exercise experiment on Facebook and at PJ Lifestyle

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
It has always irritated me when the medical community announces some diet change that will be beneficial to a select set of individuals, with a particular type of metabolism, and suddenly popular media pushes it as a panacea for everyone and their brother. Eat this way and live forever!!!

GAH!

A case in point, my sister who is extremely slender (always has been and periodically borders on skeletal if she's not careful) was faithfully following a "low fat diet" because that's what she was told was the best thing to do. It was not right for her and she lost far too much weight. I had to insist that she add fat to her diet because she needed it - regardless of what the popular media was constantly preaching. *sigh*

The same is true for any type of food. It will cause problems for a select set of people. This does NOT mean it causes problems for everyone or even most people.

It comes down to this:

The Media is bad for your health. Read or watch at your own risk!!!
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (6)
All Comments   (6)
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Salt is BAD!


Just like carbon dioxide is a pollutant.


We do a lousy job of teaching science. Have for decades now, and it shows.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
Diabetics benefit from salt since raising the % in blood solution counters the cellular influence of hyper-glycemia ( high blood sugar) concentration % soluble in blood. The effect is because the two (salt & glucose) solutes provoke different dynamics of osmotic "stress" on a cell.

Osmotic environment outside a cell leads to alterations of the inside cell's cyto-skeleton alterations. The 2 types of osmotic drivers (salt & glucose) cause different splicing of part of the cyto-skeleton proteins; the same protein(s) is made but it is of a different molecular weight.

The cyto-skeleton is, in addition to forming the scaffolding for internal cell traffic, vital to external cell membrane signal organization. Diabetics insulin resistance is partly a signaling malfunction.

Glucose based osmotic stress on a cell leads to a splicing of proteins (vimentin & cyto-keratin) integral to cyto-skeleton organization that keeps, for example, a molecular weight variant of vimentin close to the cell nucleus. Normal (non-diabetics) blood sugar elevated after meals will drop &, for them, in hours the cyto-skeletal protein can move out into the cell for that cell to organize it's 10 nano-meter internal filaments.

In normal conditions the rebound from meal glucose spike, being followed by blood sugar reduction , ends up leading to less glucose osmotic stress is fine. This is because the cell's cyto-skeleton rebounds & fills out strongly with the (so called) intermediate type of scaffolding filaments.

Salt (NaCl) based osmotic stress splices a molecular weight vimentin protein that doesn't hug the cell's nucleus & the cyto-skeletal intermediate filaments ramify. This helps the cell have real time signal activity going on at it's external membrane for things like insulin receptors & thus trans-duction inward to cell's interior insulin receptor substrate when meal glucose comes along.

In normal condition the circulation rebounds from meal salt spike over time by salt % dilution in blood. This ends up causing a variety of cyto-skeletal filaments to forms a denser network around that cell's nucleus after time.

Osmolarity is a natural design with something like an ebb & flow dynamic; so challenges from salt or sugar (glucose) osmotic stress are fine. Except the diabetic & chronic hyper-glycemic don't get much respite from glucose osmotic stress. Thus diabetics, by adding salt, are pushing a change by introducing a different acting osmolar stress & they enhance cyto-skelton functions conducive to insulin sensitivity.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
Teresa said it best as always. The way I see it, if you shop on the perimeter of the grocery store and don't venture far into the evil processed food corridors you can add salt to taste. How do you spell that word that is a homophone for isles anyway....
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
I second this. Shop the outside and cook your own. We always hit:

1) produce
2) seafood
3) meat
4) dairy
5) frozen (eggs, yogurt, etc.)
6.) aisles

By the time we get out of meat, we've usually spent about 50% of our budget. And when we get to the aisles, it's often close to 2/3 to 3/4. It works out really well for the most part.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Aisles"
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
It has always irritated me when the medical community announces some diet change that will be beneficial to a select set of individuals, with a particular type of metabolism, and suddenly popular media pushes it as a panacea for everyone and their brother. Eat this way and live forever!!!

GAH!

A case in point, my sister who is extremely slender (always has been and periodically borders on skeletal if she's not careful) was faithfully following a "low fat diet" because that's what she was told was the best thing to do. It was not right for her and she lost far too much weight. I had to insist that she add fat to her diet because she needed it - regardless of what the popular media was constantly preaching. *sigh*

The same is true for any type of food. It will cause problems for a select set of people. This does NOT mean it causes problems for everyone or even most people.

It comes down to this:

The Media is bad for your health. Read or watch at your own risk!!!
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
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