The Fear of Salt
History says we LOVE salt. Have you guys ever heard of the saying “Worth one’s salt” or “Worth your weight in salt”? It used to be a highly prized substance and used as a form of payment in ancient Rome. The absence of salt on a Roman dinner table was interpreted as an unfriendly act that would raise suspicion. It was the life force of the ancient world. Salt is also prominent in the Bible.
FAST FORWARD TO TODAY
Our society has been told to fear salt! Epidemiological studies claims that salt is linked to high blood pressure and we should minimize it especially as we get older. For those that don’t know, using epidemiological studies for health does not show or prove much of anything. It shows correlation of health events, but does not prove causation! Basing any health or nutritional advice on epidemiological studies is just dangerous as we see over and over again with things like the fear of salt, fat, and cholesterol.
The fear of salt goes hand in hand with fear of fat. Just like saturated fat, salt was blamed for what sugar was doing. It wasn’t the salt that was raising our blood pressure it was the salt along with the unnatural amount of sugar we are having every day. The government decided on limiting the wrong substance…
Thanks sugar industry!
WHY SHOULD YOU BELIEVE US?
On average our kidneys process 1 teaspoon (~4.2g) of salt ever 5 minutes!
Let that sink in for a second… 1 teaspoon of salt EVERY. FIVE. MINUTES!
Most health agencies tell us that 1 teaspoon per day of salt is too much; however, our kidneys filter this amount of salt every five minutes.
The salt restriction recommendations hardly make sense from a physiological viewpoint. The amount of salt we eat per day is truly a drop in the bucket compared to the amount the kidneys filter on a daily basis. In fact, the stress on the kidneys mainly comes from having too little salt and needing to conserve it.
When the kidneys are forced into conserving salt it requires a lot of energy; making a low salt diet an energy hog and a tremendous stress to the kidneys.
EFFECTS OF LOW SALT DIETS
- Kidney stress
- Conserving salt is more stressful on the kidneys than too much salt.
- Low Energy
- Conserving salt requires WAY more energy than using salt. Low salt consumption results in low energy
- Weight Gain
- Low energy = less movement: Your body won’t want to sweat out the salt that it’s trying to conserve.
- Risk of Heart Attack: the heart rate increases reducing circulation throughout our body and increasing the hearts need for oxygen.
- When the heart beats too rapidly, it pumps less efficiently. Blood flow to the rest of the body (including the heart) reduces. Also, when the heart beats faster, the heart muscles need more oxygen. In time, oxygen-starved cells can die, leading to a heart attack
DO YOU STILL FEAR SALT?
By the 16th century Europeans were estimated to consume around 40g of salt per day, in the 18th century their intake was up to 70g. That is seven times the current intake of salt in the western world.
The consumption of salt throughout Europe during the last several hundred years was likely at least twice and even up to 10 times what it is today. During this time, rates of high blood pressure and heart disease were minimal.
Now we can see the consumption of salt is inversely proportional to the rise of chronic diseases.
Nowadays when we look around the world and find populations like South Korea where the daily intake of salt averages 13.5g per day; but somehow it has one of the world’s lowest rates of high blood pressure and deaths due to heart disease. This is known as the “Korean Paradox”, but it is prevalent in 13 other countries like France, Japan, Portugal, Spain etc.
We’ve been noticing these “paradoxes” (French Paradox, Korean Paradox, Japanese Paradox, etc…) are not really paradoxical after all. They’re just right in how to nourish ourselves and we just got it wrong!
Salt is vital to a human body’s health, don’t fear it if you’re eating a healthy diet!