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Should Everyone Consume Less Sodium?

Has the time come to institute the World Salt Police to save us from ourselves?

by
Theodore Dalrymple

Bio

August 19, 2014 - 9:00 am
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The opening words of a novel are acknowledged to be among the most important of the book, my own favorite being Chesterton’s “The human race, to which so many of my readers belong.…” But rivaling these words for impact are those of the Methods section of the abstracts of two papers in a recent edition of the New England Journal of Medicine. The first was “We studied 102,216 adults from 18 countries,” surely the the equal of, say, “There was no possibility of going for a walk that day” (Jane Eyre). The second, by the same authors, was “We obtained morning fasting urine samples from 101,945 persons in 17 countries,” again easily the equal of “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” (A Tale of Two Cities).

However, this was science, not literature. The object of the papers was to cast light on the association, long noted, between sodium intake in the diet and high blood pressure, and to help decide whether a reduction in the sodium intake of entire populations would be a worthwhile public health measure. High blood pressure is one of the principle causes of stroke and heart attack, which are themselves one of the principle causes of death in the world.

All Comments   (13)
All Comments   (13)
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If you think sodium is bad, you should see the information on Dihydrogen Monoxide! http://www.dhmo.org/facts.html

Important note: read the information on the cited page and those linked to it. But before you get really worried, understand that the common term for "dihydrogen monoxide" is water. If you read carefully, you'll see that everything on the page is carefully written to sound ominous while carefully avoiding the admission anywhere that this apparently noxious substance is just good old water.

Sometimes I think that the real intent of all of these safety scares is to
see how frightened and anxious we can be made and/or to mock non-technical people by saying something utterly silly under the cover of technobabble to show just how easily led they are.
4 weeks ago
4 weeks ago Link To Comment
That girl in the photo does not have a thigh gap. Therefore, salt must be bad. Q.E.D. I'll add the "/sarc" for the snarkastically impaired.
6 weeks ago
6 weeks ago Link To Comment
One problem with the salt debate is the old "correlation does not imply causation" problem. Someone who eats large amounts of salted nuts, potato chips, fries and bacon will consume more salt and will be more likely to have cardiovascular problems - which does not necessarily, and probably doesn't, mean that it's the sodium salts causing the problem.
6 weeks ago
6 weeks ago Link To Comment
We've had the informal salt police in the US for ages. The faked background material claiming the dangers of salt in the diet was perpetrated by Lewis Dahl back in the '70s. We're finally starting to get publications to speak out about this junk science and how it's negatively affected society...but now someone is talking about World Salt Police? Sheesh, it's just like the growing intensity of the glow ball worming idiots. They see truth starting to shine out from under the bushel basket they placed over it and are in a panic to get bureaucracy established to enforce their bias because everyone knows, once a bureaucracy is born nothing can kill it.
6 weeks ago
6 weeks ago Link To Comment
I was background watching a German documentary on the Spanish islands the other night. A woman from one island said that their salt was lower in sodium than that elsewhere. Go figure.
6 weeks ago
6 weeks ago Link To Comment
Which is actually possible, particularly if she was referring to the difference between rock salt and locally produced sea salt. Sea salt is not 100% NaCl - not even close - whereas rock salt is.
6 weeks ago
6 weeks ago Link To Comment
Depends on the rock salt.
6 weeks ago
6 weeks ago Link To Comment
Wait a minute, sodium is bad now? What about eggs? They were bad once, then good, then bad, then kinda sorta good. Just trying to keep up.
6 weeks ago
6 weeks ago Link To Comment
My maternal grandmother never used salt (or any seasoning I could discern) in her dishes, and she lived to be 84. My maternal grandfather, who was forced to eat this exceptionally bland food, only lived to be 64. Several other elderly relatives have avoided much salt in their diets and lived long lives.

However, they were all exceptionally senile at the end, so I don't see the advantage of a tasteless, salt-free life style.
6 weeks ago
6 weeks ago Link To Comment
No salt! No salt! Someone's food might actually taste good. We need bland food ... umm ... for the children ...
6 weeks ago
6 weeks ago Link To Comment
Wow! struck a nerve there with Mk V. I agree with Mark 100%. I don't like statements like when they say 'US compared to the rest of the world'. Are they including Germany and Japan? Both have very salty food. Or are they including people with water softeners, or people who live where the water is naturally salty? We sure need world salt police to solve this non-problem. How about bringing CLEAN water to people in Africa? That would save more lives than fighting stupid fantom fears like global warming and salt induced high blood pressure.
6 weeks ago
6 weeks ago Link To Comment
Hogwash. Ignorant, but oh, so fashionable! hogwash.

Nobody consumes sodium. Nobody.

Lead is not noticeably poisonous, neither is mercury. They are almost benign.

Carbon is not a greenhouse gas.


This kind of talk is pure ignorance.

This ignorance is probably a large part of the problem of trying to sort out the effects of dietary SALTS on human health. We lump it all under the label of "sodium", when in fact, it is sodium SALTS that are being consumed, and not all sodium SALTS are created equal.

This fashionable ignorance is also confusing the debate on the dangers of lead and mercury COMPOUNDS in our environment, and the issue of carbon DIOXIDE on the atmosphere.

Ignorance helps nobody, regardless of how fashionable that ignorance may be.





6 weeks ago
6 weeks ago Link To Comment
No need to get apoplectic. Replace "sodium" with "sodium chloride" in the article and perhaps you'll feel better. While it is true that "not all sodium SALTS are created equal," every inorganic sodium salt that I know of ionizes in water into Na+ and its counterion. Vis-à-vis the presence of sodium in the bloodstream, it really doesn't matter which salt it was at that point.

As to whether "too much" Na+ in the bloodstream is harmful, that's a separate question. Based on the evidence I have seen, the answer is probably "no" for any plausible level of sodium salt consumption -- except perhaps for certain susceptible individuals.
6 weeks ago
6 weeks ago Link To Comment
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