• Is It Dangerous To Avoid Salt?

  • Salt

    Some experts say that we should avoid salt because it's not good for our health as we are getting to much through the foods we already eat. Do we really need to avoid it?  Find out just how much salt we need and what kind of salt is best!  We think you'll be pleasantly surprised!

    By Dr. Mercola

    The vilification of salt is similar to that of fat. Just as there are healthy fats that are necessary for optimal health and unhealthy fats that cause health problems, there are healthy and unhealthy types of salt. The devil’s in the details, as they say, and this is definitely true when it comes to salt and fat.

    Salt provides two elements – sodium and chloride – both of which are essential for life. Your body cannot make these elements on its own, so you must get them from your diet. However, not all salts are created equal.

      • Natural unprocessed salt, such as sea salt and Himalayan salt, contains about 84 percent sodium chloride (just under 37 percent of which is pure sodium). The remaining 16 percent are naturally-occurring trace minerals, including silicon, phosphorus, and vanadium
      • Processed (table) salt contains 97.5 percent sodium chloride (just over 39 percent of which is sodium). The rest is man-made chemicals, such as moisture absorbents and flow agents, such as ferrocyanide and aluminosilicate.

    Besides the basic differences in nutritional content, the processing—which involves drying the salt above 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit—also radically and detrimentally alters the chemical structure of the salt

    Appropriate vs. Inappropriate Salt Restriction

    In the United States and many other developed countries, salt has been vilified as a primary cause of high blood pressure and heart disease. According to research presented at last year’s American Heart Association meeting, excessive salt consumption contributed to 2.3 million heart-related deaths worldwide in 2010.

    However, it’s important to realize that most Americans and other Westerners get the majority of their sodium from commercially available table salt and processed foods—not from natural unprocessed salt.

    This is likely to have a significant bearing on the health value of salt, just as dangerous trans fats in processed foods turned out to be responsible for the adverse health effects previously (and wrongfully) blamed on healthy saturated fats.

    Current dietary guidelines in the US recommend limiting your salt intake to anywhere from 1.5 to 2.4 grams of sodium per day, depending on which organization you ask. The American Heart Association suggests a 1.5 gram limit.

    For a frame of reference, one teaspoon of regular table salt contains about 2.3 grams of sodium. According to some estimates, Americans get roughly four grams of sodium per day, which has long been thought to be too much for heart health.

    But recent research, which has been widely publicized, suggests that too little salt in your diet may be just as hazardous as too much.  Moreover, the balance between sodium and potassium may be a deciding factor in whether your salt consumption will ultimately be harmful or helpful.

    Too Little Salt Raises Heart Risks Too, Researchers Find

    One four-year long observational study (the Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology (PURE) study), which included more than 100,000 people in 17 countries, found that while higher sodium levels correlate with an increased risk for high blood pressure, potassium helps offset sodium’s adverse effects.

    The results were published in two articles: “Association of Urinary Sodium and Potassium Excretion with Blood Pressure” and “Urinary Sodium and Potassium Excretion, Mortality, and Cardiovascular Events.”

    I’ve discussed the importance of getting these two nutrients—sodium and potassium—in the appropriate ratios before, and I’ll review it again in just a moment.

    In this study, those with the lowest risk for heart problems or death from any cause were consuming three to six grams of sodium a day—far more than US daily recommended limits.

    Not only did more than six grams of sodium a day raise the risk for heart disease, so did levels lower than three grams per day. In short, while there is a relationship between sodium and blood pressure, it’s not a linear relationship. As noted by the Associated Press:

    “‘These are now the best data available,’ Dr. Brian Strom said of the new study. Strom, the chancellor of Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences, led an Institute of Medicine panel last year that found little evidence to support very low sodium levels.

    “‘Too-high sodium is bad. Too low also may be bad, and sodium isn't the whole story,’ Strom said. ‘People should go for moderation.’

    The authors propose an alternative approach; instead of recommending aggressive sodium reduction across the board, it might be wiser to recommend high-quality diets rich in potassium instead. This, they surmise, might achieve greater public health benefits, including blood-pressure reduction.

    As noted by one of the researchers, Dr. Martin O'Donnell of McMaster University,“Potatoes, bananas, avocados, leafy greens, nuts, apricots, salmon, and mushrooms are high in potassium, and it's easier for people to add things to their diet than to take away something like salt.”

    You Need Salt, But Make Sure It’s the Right Kind

    From my perspective, the answer is clear: avoid processed salt and use natural salt in moderation. I believe it is hard for a healthy person to overdo it if using a natural salt, as salt is actually a nutritional goldmine—again provided you mind your sodium-potassium ratio. Some of the many biological processes for which natural salt is crucial include:

    Being a major component of your blood plasma, lymphatic fluid, extracellular fluid, and even amniotic fluid Carrying nutrients into and out of your cells, and helping maintain your acid-base balance Increasing the glial cells in your brain, which are responsible for creative thinking and long-term planning. Both sodium and chloride are also necessary for the firing of neurons
    Maintain and regulate blood pressure Helping your brain communicate with your muscles, so that you can move on demand via sodium-potassium ion exchange Supporting the function of you adrenal glands,which produce dozens of vital hormones

    The beauty with Himalayan salt is that in addition to being naturally lower in sodium, it’s much higher in potassium compared to other salt—including other natural salt like sea salt or Celtic salt. Himalayan salt contains 0.28 percent potassium, compared to 0.16 percent in Celtic salt, and 0.09 percent in regular table salt. While this may seem like tiny amounts, Himalayan salt still has a better salt-potassium ratio than other salt, especially table salt. Again, remember that besides the basic differences in nutritional content, it’s the processing that makes table salt (and the salt used in processed foods) so detrimental to your health. What your body needs is natural, unprocessed salt, without added chemicals.

    How Much Salt Does Your Body Need?

    Normally, the homeostasis of your body fluids is corrected primarily by your kidneys, and proper renal handling of sodium is necessary for normal cardiovascular function. Given that your survival and normal physical development are dependent on adequate sodium intake and retention, the question is – how much salt do you really need?

    A strictly vegetarian diet contains about 0.75 grams of salt per day, and it’s been estimated that the Paleolithic diet contained about 1 to 1.5 grams, which was clearly sufficient for survival, even though it falls far below the currently recommended amount.

    I believe it’s clear that most Americans consume FAR too much processed salt that is devoid of most any health benefit. But if you want to find out whether you’re eating the right amount of salt for your body, a fasting chemistry profile that shows your serum sodium level can give you the answer, so that you can modify your diet accordingly. As a general rule, your ideal sodium level is 139, with an optimal range of 136 to 142. If it is much lower, you probably need to eat more salt (natural and unprocessed varieties, of course); if it is higher, you’ll likely want to restrict your salt intake. Keep in mind that if you have weak adrenals, you will lose sodium and need to eat more natural salt to compensate.

    RSS-Banner

    Read full article: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/08/25/sodium-potassium-ratio.aspx?x_cid=20140825_lead_facebookdoc


    Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook Email

    No comments yet... Be the first to leave a reply!