The willful ignorance of the conventional medical world really irks me. And how little they know about nutrition is just the icing on the cake.
In fact, I’m going to rephrase that. Because what they don’t know is the most frightening part. And that’s a real problem—now, more than ever. Because with the lightning fast 24-hour news cycle, nobody really bothers to read much beyond the headlines.
And, especially where this latest news is concerned, the consequences could prove lethal. (Not for the reasons you might think, either.) So, let’s dive right in…
Salt is back in the spotlight
Recently, I came across a new meta-analysis that is sure to fuel the controversy over sodium and heart health. Why?
Because it suggests that if you cut your salt intake, it will lower your blood pressure—even if your systolic blood pressure (your top number) was only 120 mmHg to begin with.
Specifically, lower salt consumption delivered correlating drops in systolic blood pressure of 0.66, 1.89, and 2.76 among patients with normal blood pressure, among a mix of normal and hypertensive subjects, and among hypertensives, respectively.
To which I say: So what?!?
Why, exactly, does anybody need systolic blood pressure below 120 mmHg? I can’t tell you how many patients I have for whom my main goal is to increase their blood pressure. That’s because low blood pressure comes with its own set of issues: lightheadedness, vertigo, passing out, generally not feeling well… you get my point.
So tell me again, are we supposed avoid salt completely? What is that going to do to our bodies—and especially our kidneys—considering the fact that sodium keeps every cell in our body operational?
Our bodies need salt to live. So why does conventional medicine insist upon villainizing it? Yes, there is an awful lot of sodium in packaged, processed, and fast food—and that needs to be addressed on a public health level. (I never recommend eating those foods, anyway.)
But this blatant attack on something humans have been eating healthfully since the dawn of time is truly preposterous.
A return to common sense
Allow me to offer another perspective: Research on the value of salt reduction is contradictory at best. Not only that, but some research—including the recent PURE study—shows that low sodium levels are just as dangerous for your heart as high sodium levels.
And if you look at the data from this latest study, it shows that blood pressure barely changed among subjects with normal blood pressure anyway.
So it seems to me that these authors may have hyped up that particular effect in the hopes of making news. Especially since they failed to mention the fact that extremely low sodium intakes can sometimes backfire, and stimulate systems that actually drive blood pressure up.
In other words? I’m all for using common sense in this department. Clearly, if you have high blood pressure and you eat a ton of salt—which, let’s face it, a lot of Americans do, thanks to our national love affair with fast food—cutting back will help you lower your blood pressure.
But if you have normal or even borderline blood pressure and you don’t live off of packaged, processed, and fast food, there is absolutely no reason at all to retire your salt shaker to complement your fresh, whole food meals.
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“Even Normotensives Benefit From Cutting Sodium: Meta-analysis.” Medscape Medical News, 02/27/2020. (medscape.com/viewarticle/925858)