Salt and Hypertension

SALT DOES NOT CAUSE HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE

In another piece of contradictory research covering 8,670 French adults, scientists have concluded that the case for salt being a cause of high blood pressure is overstated, and more complex than once believed.  In fact the authors of this particular study have concluded that there is no direct link between salt consumption and hypertension.

It seems that other lifestyle factors such as excessive alcohol consumption and obesity were strongly linked to a rise in blood pressure.  Eating more fresh fruits and vegetables was found to be linked to a drop in blood pressure.

Stopping weight increase should be the first target in the general population to counteract the hypertension engine. ~ The American Journal of Hypertension.

On the other hand, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have just issued a report finding that 90% of US children eat more salt, (sodium chloride), than is good for them.  The science surrounding salt ‘is crazy confusing’.  In fact the long held belief that salt causes cardio-vascular disease is coming under increasing scrutiny.

Salt is essential for good health in people and animals.  Too little salt is very bad for you, causing a condition called hyponatremia.  The symptoms are confusion, chronic fatigue, and dizziness.  Bad hyponatremia can cause strokes and heart attacks.  If the condition goes on long enough it can be fatal.  Too much salt can also be fatal.

Low salt diets can cause an increase in hormones and lipids in the blood.  A 2012 study in The American Journal of Hypertension found that a low salt diet can cause elevated plasma levels of renin, cholesterol and triglycerides.  A low salt diet is linked to early death in people with type 2 diabetes.

A low salt diet is particularly dangerous for the elderly.  Hyponatremia is linked to broken hip joints due to falls caused by confusion and a decrease in cognitive ability.

The original ‘proof’ that salt causes high blood pressure was in a 1970s study by Lewis Dahl, who induced high blood pressure in rats by feeding them the equivalent of 50 times the average human salt intake in the western world.  Dahl also stated that cultures who regularly consumed higher levels of salt tend to have higher blood pressure.

the data supporting universal salt reduction have never been compelling, nor has it ever been demonstrated that such a program would not have unforeseen negative side effects.  ~ Gary Taubes in Science magazine.

There is a healthy range of salt intake for most people, the range seems to be 1.5 to 3 teaspoons of salt a day.  Too little salt and food tastes bland.  To much salt in food makes it almost inedible.  The key, as always is to take everything in moderation, avoid processed foods, and avoid modern wheat.

Modern wheat tends to result in an increase in fat around the stomach, and the Mayo Clinic says this is really bad for blood pressure.  In another piece of contradictory research, the Mayo Clinic found that an increase of just 5 lbs in fat around the stomach will cause a rise in blood pressure.

To our knowledge, for the first time, we showed that the blood pressure increase was specifically related to increases in abdominal visceral fat… ~ Dr Naima Covassin.

Abdominal visceral fat is the classic ‘beer belly’ and it is caused by sudden increases in blood sugar, such as when drinking alcohol, sugary drinks, eating white bread…  Take this theory far enough and it’s obvious that sugar causes high blood pressure, and not salt.

drunk-man

this man almost certainly has high blood pressure

In order to reduce blood pressure, it seems likely that losing weight, cutting down on alcohol, and avoiding modern wheat, is likely to be more effective than cutting down on table salt.  The recommended maximum sugar intake is between 5 and 7 teaspoons a day.

It is sugar not the salt that may be the actual causative factor for high blood pressure. ~ Dr James DiNicolantonio in the American Journal of Cardiology.

Exercise helps too ~ an hour of walking a day is enough to help reduce blood pressure.  Walking to work reduces stress and improves brain power, according to the University of East Anglia’s Norwich Medical School.

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