You are very salty!
The human body is an electrochemical system that contains many salts, with sodium chloride being the major one. Sodium and potassium regulate the total amount of fluid in the body and play a major role in the nervous system and muscles. The movement of sodium, inside and outside of the cells, is critical for generating electrical signals. Without salt, your brain wouldn't work!
Salt makes up around 0.4% of the body's weight. A 75kg person would therefore contain 300g of sodium chloride.
- 50% of the sodium travels around outside our cells, mainly in the blood plasma as sodium chloride.
- 10% is found inside cells and within cartilage.
- 40%+ of the sodium is held within our bones because it has a crucial role in maintaining a magnesium and calcium balance.
We have around 5 litres of blood in circulation, and our kidneys process this every 30 minutes or 48 times per day! So our kidneys are happily processing 150g of salty plasma every 30 minutes, or 7 kilos of salt per day! Our bodies are designed to cope with large amounts of salt in our diet. Although, historically this was done with a diet much richer in potassium.
If the blood is low in salt, then it is retained. If there is too much salt, then it's going to ultimately hit the porcelain. Humans and animals have a clever feedback system for salt. The desire for salt decreases as your levels rise. When salt is low, the cravings increase and salt becomes more and more delicious.
They blamed salt, but the real killer was sugar.
There has been a demonisation of salt with it being blamed on high blood pressure and heart attacks. The medical establishment recommends a tiny amount in the diet and the push is to make everything low-salt. The past 50 years have seen a war on salt, with the RDA for sodium set at just 2.3g (or around 5g of salt).
The Japanese have an average salt intake of 11g per day, yet they are the world's number one in terms of longevity. Also, the Japanese levels of heart disease are incredibly low. Why can this be so? For decades now, the medical and food establishment has pushed the narrative that salt is the villain. Before the advent of refrigerators, salt was used to preserve a wide range of foods and average salt intake was huge. Heart disease, obesity and high blood pressure were relatively unheard of.
Thanks to the demonisation of salt, most people are not getting enough. Especially people who do lots of exercise or live in hot countries. If you are constantly tired, have headaches and have muscle problems, you are probably low on electrolytes. So top up your sodium, potassium and magnesium.
The government recommendation for salt seems to be reasonable for a couch potato. It's very important for active people to have a good salt intake. This also applies to people who live in hot climates or are regular sauna users. Sweat typically contains 3g of salt per litre.
- Runners sweat at a rate of 1-2 litres per hour.
- In a typical sauna session, you would lose over a litre of sweat.
- A person doing a manual labour job could lose 10-15g of salt via heavy sweating per shift.
Don't forget the potassium.
- Potassium is mainly found inside the cells and works with sodium to control cell volume.
- Sodium is mainly found outside the cells. When sodium levels rise, the body retains more water or tries to excrete the sodium in urine.
- Consuming more water and more potassium will mean lower sodium levels and less water retention.
- Potassium deficiency may lead to water retention causing oedema, swelling, and weight gain.
The best way to get a higher ratio of potassium to sodium is to eat specific fruits and vegetables, plus the use of a low sodium salt. These typically have two thirds potassium chloride and one third sodium chloride. You get a healthy 2:1 ratio of potassium to sodium.
In conclusion: Salt isn't bad for you!
- People have become scared of salt. Low salt intake causes huge problems that far outweigh any issues with a high salt intake. (see video 2).
- 11g of salt a day seems to be optimal (if you sweat a lot, you will need more).
- Your body is designed to get rid of excess salt, but it's not designed to function on very low salt levels.
- Get the correct balance of potassium to sodium.
- Never be afraid to salt your food.
- A low sodium salt is a fantastic way to increase your sodium along with potassium.
- Take an electrolyte drink each morning to start the day. We recommend low salt, a Berocca and magnesium.
- Himalayan pink salt, which is mined in Pakistan, is a marketing myth. Low-sodium salts are way better.
- Don't use standard shaker salt. This contains nasty anti-caking agents such as ferrocyanides and aluminosilicate.
Low salt intake causes these problems.
- Pregnant women have natural salt cravings and low salt levels are very bad for fetuses and babies.
- Increases insulin resistance.
- LDL cholesterol, insulin and uric acid levels rise sharply.
- Heart rate will rise.
- Coffee drinkers should use more salt as caffeine increases urinary sodium excretion.
- Fatigue will rise if you have low salt.
- Can produce too much of the hormone, aldosterone. This increases blood pressure, insulin levels and water retention.
- Causes dizziness.
- Increases stress levels and cortisol.
- Causes insulin resistance.
- Can lead to osteoporosis as the skeletal sodium store is used as a reservoir.
- Heart rate variability increases.
- Adrenal fatigue becomes an issue.
- Blood volume lowers.
- Uric acid levels go up as salt levels fall, this is very bad for gout.
- Cholesterol LDL goes up and HDL goes down.
- Elevated BUN levels (Blood - Urea - Nitrogen). This blood test is indicative of a salt deficiency.
- Reduce stomach acid production (the chloride ions in Sodium Chloride are used to make stomach acid).
- Magnesium levels are affected.
- Vitamin C distribution, especially to the brain, is impaired as it disrupts Sodium Vitamin C Transporters (SVCTs).
Lumpy table salt is a first-world problem!
The RDA for potassium is huge at 4.7g per day.
Standard shaker salt contains 97.5% sodium chloride and 2.5% anti-caking agents such as sodium aluminosilicate, sodium ferrocyanide and potassium ferrocyanide. Natural anti-caking agents are used in more expensive table salts, but it's best to source raw salts or rock salts with no additives. Check the label on your salt, and if it says, anti-caking agent 5 5 4, it will contain aluminosilicates. It's best to avoid aluminium where possible, so avoid salt with caking agents.
You are very salty part 2
This video will look at the serious problems caused by salt restriction. If you are constantly tired, suffer from headaches and have muscle problems, you are probably low on electrolytes.
Without salt, we become a lethargic mess.
Our bodies are designed to cope with large amounts of salt. But we start to struggle when salt level fall. It's also very important for people who sweat a lot to have a good sodium intake. This could be due to living in hot countries, using a sauna, exercising, or doing manual work. Sweat typically contains 3g of salt per litre, which can easily be lost in under an hour.
Low salt intake is a disaster.
- Pregnant women have natural salt cravings and low salt levels are very bad for babies, with a significantly lowered birth weight. Iodized salt is especially important when you're expecting. Iodine is a trace element added to table salt that supports normal fetal brain and nervous system development. The renin-angiotensin system is upregulated due to salt restriction, resulting in the underdevelopment of cardiovascular organs and decreasing the number of nephrons in the kidney. It is even responsible for the onset of hypertension in adulthood.
- Low sodium diets increase insulin resistance as the body reduces body water contents. This increases epinephrine, renin, and angiotensin levels, all of which inhibit the action of insulin and increase insulin resistance.
- LDL cholesterol, insulin and uric acid levels rise sharply on a low-salt diet. This is especially bad for people who suffer from gout.
- Low sodium elevates BUN levels (Blood - Urea - Nitrogen). This blood test is indicative of a salt deficiency.
- Heart rate will rise. A four-beat/minute rise has been observed in people with a low salt intake. Heart rate variability also increases.
- Coffee drinkers should use more salt because caffeine increases urinary sodium excretion. 4 cups of coffee are thought to excrete 2 grams of salt.
- Early signs of low sodium include tiredness, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and headache. Serious symptoms of low sodium, such as, seizures, and even coma.
- Low salt leads our body to produce too much of the hormone, aldosterone. This increases blood pressure, insulin levels and water retention. Aldosterone is crucial for sodium conservation in the kidney, salivary glands, sweat glands, and colon. Aldosterone is synthesized exclusively in the adrenal gland and Adrenal fatigue can become an issue.
- Hyponatremia is when there are low sodium levels in the blood. It can lead to lethargy, confusion, fatigue and dizziness.
- Increases stress levels and cortisol.
- Low salt intake can lead to osteoporosis. Our bones store half of our sodium as a reservoir and this can be consumed in periods of low intake.
- Blood volume lowers as salt levels fall. Fluid and salt losses through sweating reduce plasma volume which leads to a heart rate drift,
- Whilst low salt diets slightly lower blood pressure, cholesterol LDL goes up and HDL goes down.
- Reduce stomach acid production (the chloride ions in Sodium Chloride are used to make stomach acid).
- Magnesium levels are affected. Low salt intake and fluid restriction decrease magnesium load to the kidneys and downregulates transport molecules.
- Vitamin C distribution, especially to the brain and neurons, is impaired, as low sodium disrupts Sodium Vitamin C Transporters (SVCTs).
- Human cells have complex membranes, they rely on the transfer of sodium and potassium back and forth to control cell volume. It is
You are very salty part 2: Blood pressure.
Low salt diets reduce blood pressure, but not by much.
The main narrative in the war on salt is that a low salt diet is good for you because it lowers high blood pressure (hypertension), which in turn reduces heart attacks.
A simple Google search will show some cherry picked studies that show big drops in blood pressure on a low salt diet. But a meta-analysis by the New England Journal of Medicine, including 34 trials, showed that a reduction in salt intake to under 4.4 g/day was only able to reduce blood pressure by an average of 4mm of mercury systolic, and 2mm diastolic. This is a tiny decrease at the cost of some horrible health issues associated with low salt levels.
A better way to lower blood pressure would be by:
- Losing weight. You can expect to lower your blood pressure by about 1 blood pressure point for each kilo of weight you lose. In a meta‐analysis of 25 randomised trials, decreasing weight by 5.1 kilos reduces systolic and diastolic BP by 4.4 and 3.6 respectively. Weight loss should be considered the first step in all patients with hypertension, especially if overweight and obese.
- Regular exercise. A stronger heart can pump more blood with less effort. As a result, the force on the arteries decreases and blood pressure goes down by 5 to 10 points, even with just 30 to 60 minutes of exercise per week (this was from the American Journal of Hypertension).
- Increasing your potassium consumption. Potassium is mainly found inside the cells and works with sodium to control cell volume. Consuming more water and more potassium will mean lower sodium levels and less water retention. Potassium deficiency may lead to water retention causing edema, swelling, and weight gain. The best way to get a higher ratio of potassium to sodium is to eat specific fruits and vegetables, plus the use of a low sodium salt.
- Thinning the blood. There are several natural ways to thin the blood, one is to take cinnamon which contains a natural blood thinner. In a 2021 study in the Journal of Hypertension, Cinnamon was found to be effective in weight loss and reduction of systolic and diastolic blood pressure in patients. Those who took cinnamon daily over 12 weeks experienced an average reduction of 5.4 in systolic blood pressure and 2.6 in diastolic blood pressure.
- Widening the arteries. There are many foods that can vazodilate our blood vessels, making it easier for blood to flow. These foods typically contain nitrates, such as celery. Or they contain the amino acid arginine, which breaks down to nitric oxide. In studies involving L-Arginine supplementation, reductions of 11 in systolic blood pressure and 5 in diastolic blood pressure were seen.
- Quit smoking. It is a paradox that while smoking instantly increases blood pressure by 5-10 points, a slightly lower blood pressure level has been found among smokers than nonsmokers in larger epidemiological studies.
- Reduce the booze. Alcohol decreases blood pressure initially (up to 12 hours after ingestion) and increases blood pressure after that period. Alcohol will also contribute to weight gain and so increase blood pressure over the long term.
- Get better sleep. The less you sleep, the higher your blood pressure may go. A 2014 study described sleep being relevant as the primary prevention of hypertension.
- Reduce stress. The body releases a surge of hormones when under stress. These cause the heart to beat faster and the blood vessels to narrow. These actions cause spikes in blood pressure and also higher blood pressure over time.
- People have become scared of salt because they believe a low salt diet will lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of a heart attack.
- It's so much easier to implement some lifestyle and food changes to really drop blood pressure.
- But low salt intake causes huge problems that far outweigh any issues with a higher salt intake.
- 11g of salt a day seems to be optimal, (if you sweat a lot, you will need more). But always check with your doctor first, as they have a history of always being right.
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Optimal blood pressure is thought to be a systolic blood pressure lower than 120, and a diastolic blood pressure lower than 80. When this rises to 140 over 90, it is considered as hypertensive.
Source: Dr. James Dinicolantonio (Author of the salt fix), mercola.com, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov