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Around 2012, and immediately before and after, Health Impact News featured some seriously thought provoking attacks on reigning dogmatic nutritional salt myths.
The reports were from several experts such as Dr. Joseph Mercola, Dr. David Brownstein, author of Salt Your Way to Health, and the satirical approach of Scottish M.D. Malcolm Kendrick.
My favorite Health Impact News article on the matter was by Dr. Kendrick, who explained that the low sodium diets seem to forget that salt is composed of two molecules, salt (Na) and chloride (Cl). The chemical formula for salt is NaCl, or sodium chloride, which is salt.
Then he flashed a study that warned low serum chlorine was more dangerous than previously considered, concluding:
Low, not high Serum Cl- ( < 100 mEq/L), is associated with greater mortality risk independent of obvious confounders. Further studies are needed to elucidate the relation between Cl- and risk. (Study abstract)
Despite the growing evidence that low sodium causes more harm than high sodium, and using unprocessed salt has more benefits than commercial processed table salt, the mostly unsubstantiated belief that salt needs to be demonized persists.
The revelations of good science are continually crushed by the pressures of public health policy.
Or as Dr. Kendrick states,
“… the ‘salt hypothesis’ is rather like a monster from a 1950s B movie. Every time you attack it with evidence it simply shrugs it off and grows even stronger.”
To this day, the American Heart Association (AHA) considers consuming more than 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium a day, which is the FDA and other government guidelines’ limit, too much, while recommending an ideal limit of no more than 1,500 mg per day (around a half teaspoon) for most adults. (Source)
But in order to be at the 2,300 mg sodium limit, one needs to consume over 5,000 mg of salt as sodium chloride (NaCl). So are there really any concerns to most people’s salt consumption today in terms of eating too much?
Enter Dr. DiNicolantonio to Continue the Attacks on the Salt Hypothesis Monster
Just recently in 2017, another highly credentialed medical expert has come out with the same message and more. Dr. James DiNicolantonio, Pharm. D., is the author of recently (2017) published book, The Salt Fix: Why the Experts Got It All Wrong – and How Eating More Might Save Your Life.
In the USA, a Pharm.D. or Doctor of Pharmacy is a postgraduate professional degree that offers opportunities in research, teaching, clinical practice, industry, manufacturing, judicial, and many other areas. (Source)
Dr. DiNicolantonio is a cardiovascular research scientist and doctor of pharmacy at Saint Luke’s Mid-America Heart Institute in Kansas City, Missouri. He is also involved as an associate editor and editorial board member for several medical journals.
The CDC claims the average American eats over 3.4 grams, or 3,400 milligrams of salt daily, but however they got that “average” is a mystery. The USDA publication Dietary Guidelines for Americans considers that amount will cause high blood pressure leading to strokes and heart attacks.
Dr. DiNicolantonio sees that amount as perfectly natural and healthy, stating:
“There is an inherent drive for humans to consume around 3,000 to 4,000 mg of sodium every day.”
He first started questioning the doctrine of lowered sodium when he was working as a pharmacist.
Patients on blood pressure medications would complain of dizziness and rapid heart beat rates, symptoms of insufficient sodium. He knew they were also instructed to eat less salt. So he advised them to have their sodium levels tested.
“Sure enough, when their doctors tested their sodium levels, they were very low,” Dr. DiNicolantonio said. “At that point, the doctor either stopped the medication or cut the dose in half, and the doctor would tell them to add salt back to their food.” (Source)
So we need sodium and that other component of salt, chloride, to be healthy. Dr. DiNicolantonio also references studies that show how low sodium encourages body fat accumulation and insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is what makes type 2 diabetes.
This is a cellular resistance that inhibits insulin from escorting glucose, a necessary metabolic fuel from sugars, into our cells. If not being used by our cells, glucose remains in the blood and the obvious diabetes symptom of high blood sugar results. Low sodium helps create insulin resistance. (Source)
Reverse osmosis depletes water’s trace minerals. So add a pinch of unrefined salt to your purified water. Dr. DiNicolantonio also advises adding a little more unrefined salt to your diet if you drink coffee, since coffee also reduces your body’s sodium levels. (Source)
Insulin resistance can be reversed with exercise and a good healthy diet that excludes processed foods. Whole foods, especially citrus fruits, green leafy vegetables, and legumes, are high in potassium. What’s more important than the amount of sodium in our serum is the balance of sodium and potassium.
Processed foods are high in sodium but low in potassium. Not only is there an inherent sodium/potassium imbalance, the type of sodium in commercially refined salt is deprived of important trace minerals. The high heat involved in that processing also harms salt structurally.
Eliminating processed foods and consuming organic whole foods allows one to add unrefined salt according to one’s taste, which is often influenced by one’s physiological need. Unrefined salt is commonly known as sea salt. Salty seawater has an innate balance of potassium and sodium as well as other vital minerals.
But all salt originally comes from the sea, which indicates the life supporting dynamic of salt. Our blood serum’s content resembles seawater. Therefore Himalayan salt taken from glaciers might be a cleaner source of “sea salt” as the world’s oceans become increasingly more polluted.
Processing salt for commercial use destroys much of its healthy values. Your selection of unrefined salts are usually off white, slightly gray, or pinkish, and come from caves or dried salt lakes and elsewhere.
“In 1897, the French biologist René Quinton proved that there were similarities between the mineral composition of seawater and the interstitial milieu and blood plasma. He concluded that the human body must surely react well to treatments and preparations that contain substances from the sea.” (Source)
The Politics of Institutional Nutritional Guidelines
Around the same time that saturated fat had begun to be vilified, the same fate fell on salt. The low sodium diet craze had begun as salt was blamed for high blood pressure or hypertension leading to heart attacks during the 1970s.
Could both of those scientific hoaxes have been influenced or even bought by the same industry that promotes and sells the true culprit of obesity, diabetes and heart disease – sugar?
It was around that time that sugar was beginning to be suspected of increased negative health issues, especially obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
Dr. DiNicolantonio posed the question:
“If a health organization is funded by the sugar industry, which white crystal do you think they’re going to pin their hats on? All of the harms that have been placed on salt lie at the feet of sugar, and people are just starting to realize that.” (Source)
Here’s another Dr. Kendrick blast at health organization propaganda with the background of hospital policies using IV saline drips at nine grams per liter, sometimes twice a day, to help critical patients too weak to eat or drink survive:
So, we are quite happy to give critically ill patients 18 grams of salt [intravenously] per day to help them get better – which has no discernable effect on their blood pressure, or anything else. Yet we tell people that they cannot eat more than six grams a day. Ho, ho. You earthlings are so funny. (Source)
Listen to this interview with Dr. Joel Wallach who states that current nutritional advice against salt is “criminal” and killing people.
By Paul Fassa, Guest author