Ending the War on Salt

For years, salt has been an “enemy” in our diet. As naturopaths, we hold a somewhat different view of sodium (see below) and it’s one that’s beginning to gain more and more traction in the media.

Scientific American published a piece last month, “It’s Time to End the War on Salt” that suggests that there’s little evidence that reducing the salt in our diet has much long-term benefit.

From the article:

“This week a meta-analysis of seven studies involving a total of 6,250 subjects in the American Journal of Hypertension found no strong evidence that cutting salt intake reduces the risk for heart attacks, strokes or death in people with normal or high blood pressure. In May European researchers publishing in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that the less sodium that study subjects excreted in their urine—an excellent measure of prior consumption—the greater their risk was of dying from heart disease. These findings call into question the common wisdom that excess salt is bad for you, but the evidence linking salt to heart disease has always been tenuous.”

For a naturopathic perspective on just why salt isn’t the big hairy deal that we’ve been making it out to be for years, I’ve included an article that appeared in The Collingwood Enterprise Bulletin last summer. Enjoy! – Tara

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Making Sense of Sodium
by Tara Gignac, ND

A look at the daily news tells us sodium is implicated in such high profile health concerns as high blood pressure and heart disease. And to be fair, it’s true: sodium is a problem. But the reality is that it’s only half the problem.

Sodium does a lot of good in our body.  It helps our nerves and muscles work properly, and maintains our pH and water balance. Without sufficient sodium, we’d die.

But here in North America we’re not in any danger of dying of a sodium deficiency. We’re putting back a whopping 3200 mg on average – more than triple our cavemen ancestors.

But there’s more to the story. It’s not just sodium, but the ratio of sodium to another mineral, potassium, that’s important for our health. Potassium is sodium’s soulmate  – the two complement each other in the body, and while our high sodium intake does throw off the ratio, we’re also consuming about a quarter of the potassium that our ancient ancestors did. That makes the imbalance even worse.

It also means, though, that we can tackle the sodium problem from both ends: by reducing our sodium intake and increasing our potassium intake. The simple formula? Decrease your processed foods (high sodium) and increase your consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, which tend to be higher in potassium, to a minimum of 10 servings a day.

Tara Gignac, ND practices at StoneTree Clinic in Collingwood, ON. You can learn more about your sodium levels by booking a complimentary visit with a naturopathic doctor at 444-5331, or www.StoneTreeClinic.com

 

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