Can a low salt diet be harmful?

Can a low salt diet be harmful?

 

The dangers of a low salt diet

Salt helps maintain the body’s balance of fluids and a low salt diet could be risky . Salt is found in many foods as a preservative that helps to keep it from spoiling. According to the FDA, nearly all Americans consume too much salt, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

The FDA’s recommended salt consumption guidelines

The natural salt in food accounts for about 10 percent of total intake, on average, according to the FDA guidelines. The salt that we add to our food when cooking and at the table adds another 5 to 10 percent. About 75 percent of our total salt intake comes from salt added to processed foods by manufacturers.  The FDA states that the possible negative health effects of salt include heart disease, stroke, heart failure, and kidney disease.

The amount of salt in products can be found listed as “sodium” on the nutrition facts label. The recommended daily salt intake is no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day. Some people are more sensitive to the effects of salt than others. The FDA suggests that in order to lower your daily salt intake you should eat more fresh fruits and vegetables. Flavor food with pepper and other spices opposed to salt. We should choose unsalted snacks and read food labels and choose things with lower sodium.

The FDA also suggests that you should consume foods that are rich in potassium. Potassium can help dull the effects of sodium on a person’s blood pressure. You can also choose to use a salt substitute to replace the salt in your diet. There are no known ill effects in healthy individuals from consuming potassium. People with medical conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease, and heart disease, could experience effects from increased potassium. You should always check with your doctor before consuming salt substitutes. For the full FDA guidelines you can visit FDA.GOV.

Scientific research behind low-salt diet’s

Recent research conducted by Population Health Research Institute (PHRI) of McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences suggest that only those who have hypertension and an extremely high salt diet, should be concerned by a low salt diet. According to Hamilton University, the worldwide study shows that a low salt diet may actually increase the risk of Cardiovascular Disease. The study consisted of more than 130,00 people across the globe. Research show’s that regardless of whether a person has high blood pressure, a low salt diet is associated with more heart attacks, strokes, and mortality. This is in comparison to those who consume an average amount of salt.

The Population Health Research Institute looked at the relationship between the amount of salt consumed and its relation to mortality. They also looked at the relationship of salt and its contribution to heart disease and stroke. All of which differs in people who have high blood pressure, in comparison to those who have normal blood pressure.

“These are extremely important findings for those who are suffering from high blood pressure,” said Andrew Mente, lead author of the study,. Also the principal investigator of PHRI and an associate professor of clinical epidemiology and biostatistics at McMaster’s Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine. “While our data highlights the importance of reducing high salt intake in people with hypertension, it does not support reducing salt intake to low levels. “Our findings are important because they show that lowering sodium is best targeted at those with hypertension who also consume high sodium diets.”

Is the low salt diet good for everyone?

Previous studies have also shown that low salt intake is related to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and death. This is despite the fact that low salt intake is considered relevant to achieving lower blood pressure. The new study shows that the risk of consuming less than 3 grams per day, is consistent regardless of if the person has hypertension. It is believed that even though there is a risk to how little salt a person should consume; the harm associated with high sodium is limited to those who have high blood pressure.

It was noted that the normal daily consumption set for many may indeed be too low. “Low sodium intake reduces blood pressure modestly, compared to average intake, but low sodium intake also has other effects, including adverse elevations of certain hormones which may outweigh any benefits. The key question is not whether blood pressure is lower with very low salt intake, instead it is whether it improves health,” Mente said

Dr. Martin O’Donnell, a co-author on the study and an associate clinical professor at McMaster University and National University of Ireland Galway, said: “This study adds to our understanding of the relationship between salt intake and health, and questions the appropriateness of current guidelines that recommend low sodium intake in the entire population.” “An approach that recommends salt in moderation, particularly focused on those with hypertension, appears more in-line with current evidence.”

Conclusion

It appears that while we have all been acknowledging salt guidelines to reduce the amount of sodium that we consume, we may have in fact been doing more harm to our bodies than good. A low salt diet may not be benefiting your health at all unless you suffer from high blood pressure. Regardless, you should always speak to your doctor or health care professional before making a drastic change in your diet. This includes removing or reducing your salt intake.

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